I’m almost two years younger than my sister, Melissa. I’ve always been her trusty sidekick throughout life. We ordered our parents a personalized Jones Soda once with the caption “Partners in Crime & Making Our Parents Cry Since 1980” and the following photo:
Melissa was always full of mischief. I wasn’t always in the middle of whatever trouble she was getting into, because I wasn’t always that brave, but I was never far away.
We shared a bedroom until Ashley got married when we were eleven and thirteen. I remember many times in elementary school when the lights had been turned out for the night, we would stay awake and talk. We would sometimes hear Mama or Daddy approaching and one of us would loudly whisper, “Act asleep!” and we’d do our best job pretending.
In our shared room as kids, we would play house with all of our Cabbage Patch Kids, but we called it “Parts”. When we played Parts, Melissa was always ultimately the boss because her part of the room had the bedroom door. I had to ask permission to come into her part, so we basically played Parts until Melissa was tired of playing Parts. I wasn’t leaving our room until she gave me permission. It was fun though; I was probably always happy to keep playing.
When we managed to get grounded for bad grades or for whatever other reason, we would wait until Mama was taking her afternoon nap. We would quietly go in her room and whisper, “Mama …. Mama … “ until she said, “Huh?” We’d ask, “Can we go to Alicia and Lauren’s house?” She’d reply, still asleep, “Uh-huh.” Great! Permission! We’d head over to our friends’ house to play and then later would come a phone call to Alicia and Lauren’s mom. She’d confirm that we were there and send us on our way. Mama would always get on to us for going over there when we knew we were grounded. We would always tell her, “We asked! You said we could go!” Sneaky sneaky. It worked like a charm. I’m certain it was Melissa’s idea, but, like I said, I was right behind her. I wasn’t about to stay home like a goody-two-shoes while she played with Alicia and Lauren.
As young kids, we did a lot of role playing games, but Melissa was always the boss. The big sister would tell the little sister what was going to happen, and little sister would fall in line.
I remember Melissa saying, “Let’s play Nadia. I’ll be Nadia.” You know Nadia Comaneci. She was a gymnast in the early 80s who was amazing and scored a perfect 10 in an Olympic event. Melissa was Nadia. I was the lesser talented gymnast teammate. (This really was fitting since I’ve never even been able to execute a proper cartwheel.)
Then there was Jessica McClure who fell down a well in west Texas in the 80’s. Yes, that’s right, we played Jessica McClure. “Let’s play Jessica McClure. I’ll be Jessica McClure.” I suppose I was a news reporter? I can’t remember, but I was never Jessica. Melissa was the starring role, so Melissa was the child who fell down the well.
Ashley told me we also would play Annie. Melissa and I don’t remember that, but I believe it was a role we would go with. Ashley told me it went like this: “Let’s play Annie. I’ll be Ms. Hannigan and you be Annie.” (I think I got to be Annie because Ms. Hannigan got to boss Annie around.)
Then there was this one. I remember this one. I remember this photo. I had not seen it in years and had no idea where it was, but I knew this picture existed. I remember playing Santa Claus where Melissa was, of course, Santa Claus. She wore red and had a pillowcase full of toys slung over her shoulder. I was the reindeer. On a leash.
Mama found this photo last night and I was so happy! Bless. Melissa is so cute. Her face is adorable. Her hat cracks me up. Also, I think she had on some of Mama’s brown cowboy looking boots. She thought this through – Santa wore a red suit and boots. I’m sure I was told to wear red as well, in the spirit of Christmas. I guess the rope/leash was tied to my belt loop on the back of my little Osh-Kosh overalls. My hair looks like a rat’s nest. Also, I can still sit like that, just not for very long. Melissa thinks we look annoyed because Mama made us stop playing to take a picture, but we’re so glad she did.
I’m glad I had Melissa around to give me supporting actress roles in our childhood games. We had fun.