One of my sisters commented that she had read my blog, that it was "alright. . . kinda funny," and with a glance that is both glaring and sinister--like she's dying to say something she KNOWS I won't like, but she wants me to ask for it first-- said, very nonchallantly and calmly, "But I didn't want to post a comment or say anything. . . " I waited, suspecting the inevitable, stared back, knowing she had something to say, but making a point not to ask for it, so I wait for it. . . wait. . . for . . . it. . . "but I'm SO GLAD you FINALLY got all that out and written down about Debra Norville because I'm SICK of hearing about it!" She exploded, her voice getting louder and her face getting increasingly animated, "You guys go on and on about her (when?) and how she's a man or something (did I say that?) and you talk about it all the time and now we can be DONE WITH IT! Cause you've got it WRITTEN DOWN. . ." she trails off, her wide eyes return to their suspicious slits and she quietly says, "What? I don't mean to be rude. . . " and she smiles her pearly whitestrips smile. The smile I've seen her practice in the mirror a hundred times for family photos.
I have a younger sister named "Tina" (names have been changed to protect identities) who is both my closest friend as well as my personal nemesis. When I told her I was going to write a blog about her just so she would post something, she was both flattered and suspicious.
It's not easy being Tina. As the literal middle child of 5 kids, Tina fought for her own identity, and has come out the stronger for it. She is by far the most confident, self-assured, physically strong member of our family. While the rest of us wear jeans and t-shirts and talk about concerts we've been to, Tina wears twin sets and trains for marathons. She self-admittedly started dressing like a 40 year-old mom by the time she was 12, and lettered in football in high school (she was the manager, but still. . .). She majored in Athletic Training in college, and in a family of all nonathletes, she is the true revolutionary. She also decided to get married at the tender age of 19. I know that's no big deal for a lot of Mormon families, but for our family this was a really big deal. Our parents had taught us to finish college first. We had grown up on lessons about how our parents had been engaged for years so that our mother could finish college first--this was part of our legacy. Then Tina goes and announces her engagement, sans talking to the parents about it first. Well, Tina says she did talk to them, but they wanted her to wait, but she didn't see that it was their decision. Are you catching the flavor of the situation? Tina does what Tina wants and when we, to this day, talk about her being the "teenage bride," she reminds us all that she did indeed finish college like she said she would AND cost my parents the least amount of money to raise than any of the other kids (I come in at a close second). That earns her big points in the Valentine household because we're all a bunch of cheap-os.
And lets talk about the announcement: Tina decided to announce her engagement at MY wedding reception. She and her boyfriend were to welcome the guests into MY reception, and instead Tina and her FIANCE welcomed everyone in with the flash of her ring. My dad egged me on and kept whispering to me with his sly smile, "Are you going to let her get away with that?" So on her wedding day when I ACCIDENTALLY pulled off her veil as we were taking a family picture outside the temple, everyone assumed I had been planning it for months. My dad yelled, "I knew you'd do something to get her back!" laughing as if he had orchestrated the entire plot. I stand by my original story: it was an accident. A fortunate, funny, accident.
Tina's great when you need to know the truth. DO my thighs really look big in these pants? SHOULD we really refinance our home? These are great questions to ask TIna. She will give you the truth on a platter. No frills, no dressing it up to look pretty. Just consise honesty. Everyone needs a close friend like Tina.
Nemesis: the Greek goddess of retributive justice. Tina doesn't forget anything. And while that's handy when you lose your car keys or can't remember when your Aunt's birthday is, it's inconvienient when you embarrass yourself. I have about 7 really, really good "Tina Stories" I like to retell to my 2 brothers and sister on holidays, and close friends who have grown up with Tina whenever the conversation gets dull. They involve names and lifting really heavy things. I won't publish these stories because Tina's got some really good stuff on me too and girlfriend, I don't wanna go there.
Tina's nothing if not resourceful. One day Tina decided to make a quilt. She didn't know how to. Nobody taught her. She just taught herself how to do it. And you should see these quilts. She makes one for each one of my babies--they are incredible. When people ask me if they could pay her to make her one she says, "No. I don't want to do that." None of the usual guilt or peer-pressure to do a favor for a friend, she just won't allow herself to play that game. On the third of July, while the rest of us are watching tv, Tina whipped up two incredible store-bought worthy skirts for her two little girls out of scraps of fabric she had lying around. "It's no big deal," she tells me, "it didn't take very long." This, she says, as she hands me a decorative fourth of july headband she's made for my daughter. She's always trying to get me to can applesauce. My family doesn't like applesause, I tell her. "So what! It's really good and you can save a lot of money. Well, not a lot of money once you figure everything in, but you can still get the apples for almost free." Who can argue with logic like that?
Tina loves Dr. Laura, running, quilting, eating ice cream and treats in enormous quantities, picking at stuff, shopping for a bargain, and reading. Sometimes I worry that Tina will loose her incredible independence and individuality living in a planned community with Stepfordian-like qualities, but she assures me that she'll never name her kid McKenzie, but a boat just 'cause, or get fake boobs. "They'd get in my way" she says nonchallantly. And I believe her, I mean, she DID finish college.
But the most interesting thing about Tina is that she's always wanted to be famous. "I don't care what for--quilting, a talk show, singing, whatever, I just want my 15 minutes! I would use if for good, too." And so I'm trying to make that dream come true for Tina, in my small way. Lets hear it for TINA!