Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Christine

I have this monthly ritual with G-Mac. I go pick her up and drive her to my parents' house where we have dinner and gossip about all of the latest dating scandals at her assisted-living center. Then I drive her back home and walk her to her door, arm-in-arm. On more than one occasion she has yelled out to geriatrics we've passed in the hallway, "have you met my new booooooyfriend?" And she says "boyfriend" holding out all of the Os just like I typed out.

Sunday was a G-Mac dinner day, which meant that it was something of a "perfect storm" Sunday because once a month Bob and Cathie have all seven of their grandchildren over for dinner as well and this month the G-Mac Sunday happened to coincide with the grandchildren Sunday.

By the end of the night my anxiety had a headache. Yes, you read that correctly.

G-Mac and I both took turns saying the safe word ("GETMEOUTOFHERE!") and then promptly got up and left before she could build enough of a case for elder abuse.

When we got in the car and started to pull away, she told me "children are wonderful. But usually from a distance."

Savage.



Every single time I drop G-Mac off she asks me why I haven't "done an ipod" with her recently (translation: "interviewed me for the podcast"). She tells me she still has things to say. I tell her that you all want to hear those things and that there are repeated requests for more G-Mac content. I promise to deliver on that sometime soon.

In our October episode we brought someone else's grandparent to you. Meg's grandpa, who called me "Levi" no less than five times during our interview. We also had some really fun segments from a few others, including the wonderful writing of Meg Morley Walter.

Do yourself (and us) a solid and click on the little play button thingy below. I promise you won't regret it. Bonus: the second you hear my voice in the first few seconds you'll start growing more magnificent hair.


And for the hearing impaired, and to hopefully entice the rest of you to check out the episode, I've included the text from a story I shared as an intro for this episode below.

Please enjoy!

*****


I grew up learning about my older sister, Christine, who died tragically in a car accident on prom night. Her tiara was the first thing they found. She had been crowned queen only an hour before. Everyone expected her to win. She was also Ms. Utah for three years in a row.

I found out about Christine when I was 7 because my two living older sisters told me about her. They explained that Christine died a week or two before I was born and so I never had the chance to meet her.

She was blonde, they told me. And beautiful. She sang like an angel. My sisters had tapes of her singing. The recordings always sounded distant and haunting. And suspiciously like my living sisters. But that made sense. Christine was, after all, my sister as well. They showed me pictures of her, too. Pictures that had been cut out of magazines (Christine was a model). She looked so nice. So full of life. I was sure we would have gotten along.

I was told repeatedly that I could never talk about Christine in front of my parents. The wounds were too deep, and my mom and dad had decided after the funeral, which was beautiful by the way—her casket was carried in by ponies and the queen attended—they decided that they would never speak of Christine again.

I was a little annoyed that my parents were going to go their whole lives without ever letting me know that I had an older sister. But I also understood that pain can make people do crazy things.
As the months went on, Christine’s presence in my life became more and more tangible. My sisters explained to me that Christine actually haunted the basement, where their bedrooms were, and so it was probably best that I didn’t go down there unless I wanted to see a ghost.

From time to time I heard haunting cooing sounds coming up the stairs from the basement. On occasion Christine would leave messages for me written in bright red lipstick on the bathroom mirror. They were simple messages. Vague, in the way most messages from ghosts are. “I am with you” one said. “Don’t forget,” another told me.

Around the time that Christine started trying to communicate with me from the other side, I decided I should begin telling the neighbor kids about her. Jared Dimick next door was an obvious choice for my confidence. He and I had spent countless hours over the last year telling one another stories about our encounters with aliens who we were sure were zeroing in specifically on our suburban neighborhood 35 minutes south of Salt Lake City.  By the way,  I had sold those alien stories so convincingly that I actually believed them myself.

I told Jared about Christine. I showed him the pictures. Played the tapes of her short-lived music career. He accepted all of it. And he suggested that we set up a tape player in the basement to try to capture her voice.

I had no interest in this. I knew better than to disturb the dead. She terrified me. And all I wanted was for her to go away. But I had brought Jared into this, and I didn’t want to look like a wimp in front of him.

We consulted Jared’s older brother Jon for help. After explaining the situation to him, Jon started poking holes in the narrative. Jon was smarter than us because he was really old. He was 9.

He asked me if I thought it was strange that we only had pictures of Christine from magazine cutouts. He asked me how it was even possible for my parents to have had a child in the late 60s considering that they didn’t get married until the late 70s. And he suggested that my sisters’ direction that I never bring this up in front of my parents was at least a little suspicious.

I didn’t want to believe that this was all a lie. Christine had become such a real force in my life that it was nearly impossible for me to accept that she may not have ever existed. I had cried over her death. A dozen times. I even wrote a letter to her once and flushed it down the toilet. I don’t know why I flushed it. I think it had something to do with my father forcing me to watch Steven King’s IT when I was six.

I ran home. My parents and sisters were in the kitchen. I stood up straight so everyone would know I was serious. “Mom, dad, did I really have a sister named Christine who died in a car accident before I was born and now haunts the basement?” I asked. My parents looked at my sisters and then to each other. I could see them trying to figure out what they were supposed to say. 

Finally my father spoke: “she’s back!”

For the next year my parents participated in my sisters’ attempt to convince me that our house was haunted by their fictional first born.

The apples didn’t fall far from the tree.

~It Just Gets Stranger

27 comments:

  1. We (my sister and I) convinced my other sister we had a great aunt named Malula that was weird and mysterious and when she asked our Papa if that was true without hesitation 'of course it's true! She's your great grandma's little sister' and told such a convincing story that I almost started to wonder if she was actually real....at this point I'm pretty sure Aunt Malula is going to be a part of our family history even though no such person exists. I don't even remember why we made her up or what the original story was, but it's hilarious

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  2. My sibilings and I managed to convince our youngest brother that he was not related to us. We told him that his real parents left him at the hospital because he was so ugly that they were embarassed and that our patents only took him in because they felt so sorry for him. We alternated between calling him the Lost-and found-boy or Dumpster-child (depending on where he was supposedly found). When he asked our mother, she never missed a beat and he ran to his room, problably crying. He was 13.

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    1. OMG!!!

      How is your relationship with him now?!

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    2. Funny my older brother and I also convinced my younger brother he was adopted. Although when he ran to my mom she took mercy on his defeated soul. Interestingly, as time has marches on I've become pretty convinced that if anyone in our family was adopted, it was me.

      Also, I'm very pro adoption.

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    3. When my siblings told my little sister she was adopted she just replied with "Oh good that means I'm not related to all of you people!" and walked away. She was a very tough kid to rattle.

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  3. Your G-Mac is my sister-from-another-mister, you know.

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    1. I hope so. Cause then we would be related and I could start calling you great aunt awesomesauciness and you would have to leave me 11 million dollars when you die.

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  4. Are you parents in the market for an adoption? I would like to be adopted thanks.

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  5. This story of your “sister” is golden! Something my siblings, or myself, would have done to a younger sibling of ours (also a family of 7).

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  6. My siblings and I convinced our little sister that she was the product of an affair between our mom and our dad's best friend. We told her that she couldn't talk about it with our parents because it was such a sore spot and that if she did they would get divorced and it would be her fault. Our dad's best friend used to call her his "little princess" and when we would go visit him as a family he would give her a room all to herself telling her that it was hers and none of her siblings could use it, we all had to share rooms with his kids. (All of the kids in my family and his family were very close in age except for her and he never wanted her to feel left out). She took all of that to mean it must be true and believed every word of our story!

    It wasn't until my older brother was leaving on his mission, she was in 8th grade, that she found out it wasn't true. We were taking him to the MTC when randomly he turned to her and told her that we had lied to her and he couldn't leave without telling her just in case she believed it still. Our mom was mad, not that we lied to our sister, but because we made her out to be a "hussy", little sister was devastated, and the rest of us thought we were hilarious. It made a very somber occasion much more enjoyable.

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    1. So your sister wanted it to be true?

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    2. Apparently, haha. I think she just wanted to be special. She is the youngest of seven and often felt overlooked so getting the attention of two dads instead of one was a big deal.

      It's a fun family joke now. Even dad's friend knows about it and calls her his daughter and she calls him dad #2.

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  7. You should have your readers ask G-Mac for life advice and she could have a video blog once a month where she doles out that advice. Seriously.

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    1. This is the best idea I've ever heard in my life.

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    2. Eli, it would be friggin' epic, trust me.

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    3. I can't wait to ask for dating advice from G-Mac. Heaven knows I need it.

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  8. Trying to decide if being told you have a fictitious siblings is better or worse than being told that dry cat food was a treat brought by the neighbor. Meow Mix does have all those fun shapes. There’s was always something’s fishy about that neighbor treat.

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  9. What is this twitter account you speak of?? I wanna follow him!

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    1. Adam Ellis. You can find his Twitter here: https://twitter.com/moby_dickhead?lang=en

      He pinned a tweet where he created a Storify document so you can navigated through all of the tweets chronologically. Totally worth the time to read.

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  10. The first time my sister had this new girl over (who would later become, and still is, one of her best friends) my sister gave her the traditional tour of the house. (This is the kitchen, here's the bathroom, my bedroom is down here, etc). When they got to the bedroom my sister and I shared, my dad was outside mowing the lawn, just below the window. We all leaned put the window to watch for a moment, because kids are interested in weird things I guess, and she said? "Who is that?" Without skipping a beat and totally nonchalant, my sister answered, "oh that's the lawn guy my mom is having an affair with." Her poor new little friend didn't know how to respond to that so we all just went on with life. A while later when it was dinnertime, my dad came in and sat down to eat with us. The friend, horrified, leaned over to my sister and whispered, "he eats dinner with your family, too?!" And that's when we realized that she had not known my sister was joking earlier. Oops. Still a classic.

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    1. Hahaha! Fantastic.

      You reminded me of my greatest achievement in life. So, my husband and I did some fertility work with a specialist a few years after we were married when things weren't happening naturally. After several failed treatments, we decided to take a break due to timing and stress and such. Well, as luck would have it, I got pregnant without any fertility specialist intervention, but because we had been seeing the specialist I was still considered a "high risk" case. I went into the office for my first ultrasound to make sure it was real, and to check on the tiny fetus. The doctor (bless his heart) told me that based on the size of the little guy I was 5 weeks and 3 days pregnant, and that put the date of conception back to [such and such] date. This calendar date happened to be just before my husband left on a work trip to Hawaii for several weeks, so without missing a beat and completely seriously I said, "Oh, good. My husband was still in town." The look of shock on his face was priceless, and there was no way I was going to tell him that my husband was the only person to have possibly impregnated me. I sincerely hope he gets a chuckle out of that hilariously awkward moment. I know I do!

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    2. I love this story, and congratulations!

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  11. Any bites on sponsors?

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  12. A friend has a little boy named Eli and I always think his name is Levi. I am not yet a grandma, but I am getting the moves down early.

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  13. I just saw this post and had to comment. My older two children have convinced their younger sister that there was another older sister, Emily. She somehow was shrunk and now lives in the fibers of the living room rug! The youngest has left food under the rug for her and it mysteriously disappears. Yet no one is ever afraid she might get vacuumed up.

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  14. I love my family a lot, but can your parents please adopt me? I love them.

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