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I Have A Nancy, A Nanci, And A Stuffed Eeyore Collection
To begin with the air of serious. A friend lost her mother this week to a long contest against cancer. I have love for my friend and her husband, and though it ought to read without words, I send thoughts and feelings and prayers to them. Personally, this is always difficult even just to be a part of on the periphery because I have never lost a family member to death. Not one. No uncles or aunts or grandparents or parents. Very strange to be thirty-one with all of your family intact. I don’t know how to be the most supportive and I don’t know what it feels like. However, I know my friend is strong willed and headstrong and will survive on her path as God has intended her to do. So to her and her husband, my heart aches for you and I wish you a fortified strength.
How do I segue from there. I suppose I’ll just begin yelling about some inconsequential shit. That’s what I do, right? Oh, and make esoteric film references and complain about non-player characters in video games as if they were real people. What I’m going to do today is take the opportunity to talk about someone important to me. That seems appropriate, I think. And it’ll probably utilize less curse words. Let’s do that.
The two most important people in my life have the same name. I didn’t plan it that way, nor did I have any semblance of a say in it. And no, one of them is not you, Dan; you’re the third. No, one of the same named important people I’ve known for thirty-one years, the other I’ve known for one. And to be fair, they spell their names differently, but it is still the same name. So, not to neglect the importance of my girlfriend Nanci, I am going to talk about my sister Nancy.
I am a bad brother because I don’t visit my sister enough. Visit may be an overstated word there since she lives a couple of towns over within a fifteen minute drive. I can script any number of excuses, but I won’t do that here. My sister is the third most beautiful woman on the planet. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but I think Nancy will concede my mother and my grandmother in that list. She is free with her aesthetic, brandishing a nostril piercing occasionally that matches her petit, Vidal nose. I got the giant Basile nose. Benefits of a first born, I suppose. Her wrist is tattooed with a pawprint, opening a stranger’s dialog and inquisition to her selfless work as an emergency vet tech. She is short, like all of the Mediterranean blooded clan of my family, and she has eyes and skin that are familiar and welcoming.
Nancy gave me my first drink, my first cigarette, shared through the walls of our bedroom my first music. She has always been the perfect and archetypal big sister. She didn’t so much as introduce me to modification, I more or less arrived at the great culture on my own, but she did take me to my first tattoo shop. She, our friend Ryan, and my sixteen or so year old self went to a joint whose name I can’t remember. It was a shithole; I do remember that. My sister had her shoulder modified by a cat whose name I also can’t remember. He was a rough dude, and to be completely fair, I wasn’t entirely cool with him touching my sister. The shop was dark and odd. TVs played a Discovery channel show about seals as the soundtrack was populated with the tattoo machine buzzing and latex gloves’ snapping. Ryan had his arm modified, and he bled like a stuck pig. In the dark, time worn shop, the blood was redder than changing leaves in the beginning of October. Nancy, girlishly excited, took her first mod well as I watched unaware that I would participate in the very same behavior later in life.
The first drink she gave me was a vodka and cranberry, and though I’d love to regale that night with her and Sean in my house playing cards, I can’t remember too well. Because of the vodka. And cranberry. I do remember riding on my bike to the Heritages grocery store to get a lime. Shitfaced. Absolutely unreasonably drunk, and I think I was driving my sister’s bike. Which had pink accents to the handlebars and seat. Jarrod was working there at the time, and I may or may not have payed for the lime.
The first cigarette Nancy gave me was an American Spirit. She was driving down Delaware Street in her 198something Oldsmobile. I think it was a delta 88, but whatever it was, it had a blue, velvety interior and it was a giant white tank. I sat in the backseat with Sean in the front passenger. She, with very little pressure (Nancy never pressured with anything), asked me if I’d like one. I said yes. I took the cigarette and had no idea what to do with it. “How do I do it?” I asked. Then, laughter among the three of us. I really didn’t understand the order of operations, and if you’ve ever tried to teach someone how to smoke, you’ll know how difficult it is to describe “just inhale it, idiot.” We drove to a Tower Records that day and I bought a Frank Zappa CD. We may or may not have rear ended someone too.
Years later, after I discovered piercing modification and a great shop in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC called Fatty’s Custom Tattoos, my sister and I would drive down in her little Volkswagen to get pierced by a guy named Jason Simmons, one of the best in the business. Sometimes we’d head down in the morning, get pierced, have lunch at a Cozi or some such hipster overpriced place, and then head home to go to work. We also would stop at the Christiana Mall in Delaware for some tax free shopping which often included Nancy buying me a stuffed Eeyore, of which I have many, thanks to her.
Of course in my thirty-one years of life, not all of the scenarios involving my sister were pleasant or life changing. (Just most.) We never fought, not that I can remember. I’ve heard a story about her giving me a concussion with a whiffle ball bat when I was four or five, but I don’t remember that so in my reality, it didn’t happen. But we never quarreled, we never bickered much, we never punched each other. We included each other in our lives. We shared friends and places. When I was in an original rock band, Nancy came to every show. Every one. Listened to the same, poorly played songs at the same, poorly kept bars and cheered as if she had never heard them before. But there were also times when a boyfriend besmirched her and I would grab a baseball bat with the intention of heading to the boyfriend’s place and explaining to him that his behavior was unacceptable. There were times when a girlfriend would break my heart with some kind of ‘I can’t deal with the way you deal with your leg problem,’ and I would go to Nancy in a tear faced emotional tornado of snot, sobs, and anger. And she’d be there. She was there when I woke up from my jaw surgery, when my face was so swollen I couldn’t turn my head, yellow and disgusting. Nancy was there in the hospital room with my at-the-time girlfriend who had to leave the room to throw up at the site of me. Nancy didn’t. Nancy made a joke about something. I was on morphine, so I don’t remember the joke. Nancy never liked that girlfriend anyway. After that particular surgery, Nancy took me to the mall for my first big day out. She didn’t care that I looked like Frankenstein’s Monster, my jaw wired shut and disgustingly filled with blood and metal. She didn’t care that I looked like my parachute didn’t open and I landed on my face. She cared that I got out of the house and spent some money. I bought two Frank Zappa CDs. That was a very important day to me, and still is.
Nancy is my best friend. I love her very much, and I wanted to take one of these blog weeks to tell everyone that. She is beautiful, supportive, high energy (another gene she got that I didn’t), and has a heart too big for her chest, as evidenced by the elevendy-teen dogs and cats she’s rescued which all seem to own her house. She and her (awesome) husband pay the mortgage and the wayward, reject pets live there. When you die, come back as one of Nancy’s pets; you won’t regret it. (Even though most of them are missing eyes and have weird problems.)
I know that some of my readers have siblings (my Rogers sisters come to mind), so I’d encourage you to tell those siblings that you love them. They are special. I know I have been blessed with a sister beyond compare, and I’d suggest that you all get a sister; they’re pretty awesome. And if you’re the big sister or brother, be a good one so that your little will have the same life changing experiences and stories I have. Thank you for being the perfect sister, Nancy. Stay beautiful, kids.
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