Warning: This true life adventure contains a lot of breasts! I mean lots of 'em! If this is a problem for you, please go directly to the phone book and pick a therapist for a long-term relationship.
You met my thirteen-year-old sister at the wedding. Her name - as far as you're
concerned - is Dara. Dad's third wife - also as far as you're
concerned - is Darla. Sister #1, sixteen months younger than me and preceeding those other two on the dirt path we call family life is named Daria - as far as you're
concerned. While you're sick of being concerned, Dad, whose fault this is somehow, realized the error of his ways in the produce aisle of Kroger a few years ago.
Dad: This is my wife Darla. These are my daughters Daria and Dara. Oh my God.
Dad: That sounds like a set of plate-spinning Italian triplets.
Daria calls me at work.
Daria: Did the airline deliver your luggage?
Tata: Yup. My bedroom looks like it snowed clean laundry.
Daria: I need the bag back. I'm going to Aruba on Saturday.
Tata: With a brand new baby?
Daria: The boys are staying with their Long Island grandmother who currently has no air conditioning. Maybe I'll call and ask if she wants to stay at my house...
Tata: You're taking a brand new baby on an airplane?
Daria: Yes, I'm taking my brand new baby on an airplane. What are you getting at?
Tata: I just flew from Milwaukee to Newark two rows from a squawking troupe of Christian children who made me nearly homicidal with their chatter about how microbiology flew in the face of God's Creation.
Tata: Earnest teens.
Tata: Good thing your husband's a Marine.
Nine times out of ten, our conversations include whole rapid-fire sections of no words at all. This would be unintelligible to anyone with fewer than three Jersey sisters.
Tata: And then I read the words "I'm lying" across his forehead.
Daria: [full-body Jersey chick gasp, manicure at high air-flutter, if she were driving she'd be in a ditch.]
Daria: Uh ahhhhhhh.
Tata: Mmm hmmm!
In person, it's as if we read the Times Square news crawls across one another's foreheads. There is no possibility of lying or pretense. Thursday night, I drove over to her house and found our Mom's unique vehicle parked in front. Daria lets me in. Her hair is flying all over the place as she leads me upstairs to the master bedroom where, as I enter, nearly all Hell breaks loose. The new baby is crying her eyes out. Mom's changing the baby and changing her and changing her - Mom generally moves slowly and deliberately and thoroughly and though babies usually like that, this one's not having any of it. Daria's two boys are floating in the bathtub and squealing delightedly. Bathtime is their favorite. They are hooting like monkeys on two-for-one banana day. The TV's on. Daria's vast wardrobe fills a walk-in closet, covers her bed and spills from the expensive luggage on the floor. This room is so busy I walk laps around one side of the bed just to keep up.
Tata: Hey Mom! Show us the battleship!
Tata: Your new tattoos! Show us the battleship!
Mom: Truly, you were raised by wolves...
Current radiation treatments involve tattooing little dots on the patient. I hadn't heard of this before yesterday, but now Mom and I finally have ink in common. Mom hands the in no way calming down and now irate baby to Daria, who stops running in tight circles, plunks down on her bed and hikes up her shirt. Apparently, the baby's hungry. The boys continue splashing each other and pretending to be invisible. Mom checks to see the boys can't see her and shrugs off her tank top to show me the dots. And then, my lecture begins. Look closely. You see me standing in front of a chalkboard in Daria's closet, whacking the chalkboard occasionally with my extended pointer.
Tata: Mom! That bra does NOT fit you.
Mom: It fits me! I want it to fit me!
Daria: I saw this on Oprah
Tata: That bra does NOT fit you! Remember we used to go to the corsetier in East Millstone?
Tata: The back of your bra should be -
Daria: - Even with the front! That was on Oprah
this week, too!
Tata: And while this is a nice design -
Mom: See? This is a good bra!
Tata: - it gives you four boobs, and that's two too many.
Daria: What are is she talking about? Turn around, Mom, lemme see.
Mom: Um...the boys...
Daria: You're right! The boys will never bring home -
Mom: - Girls. "I trace this back to the moment Grandma..."
Daria: I will never have grandchildren because my sons were emotionally scarred by three women in ill-fitting underwear. "I thought my sons' girlfriends were so nice. Turns out they were their long-term therapists."
Tata: Sometimes your weight redistributes. That happened to me recently after I stopped lifting weights and my ribcage narrowed.
Mom: Really? I've always worn either a 32 or 34 -
Daria: STOP RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE -
Mom and I freeze. Daria's pointing urgently down the hallway. Oh. My. God. Her husband's home and no one heard him shut the front door! The chalkboard disappears. I dart around Mom, grab her shirt, turn it right-side-out in one motion and put myself between her and the doorway.
Daria: - OR YOU WILL NEED THERAPY FOREVER.
Tata: You have the Stealth Husband? How is that possible? He's much too big!
Daria: He is in fact the Stealth Husband. See?
I turn the corner. There he is. I decide seven people in one bedroom is at least one too many. On my way out, I tell Daria I left a couple of recent issues of International Gymnast
in the bag for her, should she miraculously have a minute to flip some pages. Daria likes that idea.
Well...now we know that writing imaginary dialogue and talking to the narrator is a family trait.