THE BEST VIEW: “My Big Sister”

by Norma Best Boucher

“My Big Sister”

“I have a baby sister!” she yelled riding her bike up and down the street. That was what my parents told me my older sister Marlene did on the day I was born. I wasn’t there, of course, but I always felt pride and love knowing that she was so excited that I was born.

Everything went downhill after that. I spit up on her. I peed on her. I bit her finger with my first tooth. I was an overall pain in the butt from what I could see, but she laughed about these experiences, and I felt even closer to her.

Sis was quite a bit older than I. I was what they called a “surprise” baby. I always liked that…a SURPRISE! Surprise or not, Sis decided that I was going to behave, to be literate and not to be an embarrassment to her.

That was a major undertaking, but she was up to the challenge, and I had better be. She made me pick up my toys, did jigsaw puzzles with me, held my hand when we listened to scary radio shows like “The Shadow,” taught me to recite my ABC’s and to count to 100.

These were all games to me and fun, but she knew what she was doing. Even when I made a mistake in the 90’s when reciting my numbers, Sis let me start over again at number one and listened patiently so that I felt success and not failure.

Then it happened. She grew up. I watched her walk down the aisle to receive her college diploma and told myself, “I am going to do that, too.”

Sis got married, moved out of state, and didn’t come home to visit for two long years. My father kept an account at one of the best dress shops in town for her birthday and Christmas presents. He paid so much a week, and there was quite a sum of money there.

My dad, Sis and I walked into the store together. Dad was so proud of her. “This is Mrs. Clark,” he told the sales lady. “Please show her whatever she wants and put it on my bill.”

What a great time we had. Sis tried on more clothes than I had ever seen, and she bought me a red plaid kilt with the money. She hadn’t forgotten me, after all.

“Have you known Mr. Best long?” the sales lady asked.

“Yes,” Sis answered.

Then, out of nowhere the sales lady added, “What is he to you, anyway—your Sugar Daddy?”

Even at my young age I got the picture. Attitude, intonation, and the words “Sugar Daddy” were all very clear.

I just stood there.

This was 1958. Sis was young, pretty, college educated, married, and successful in a business career in a man’s world. This woman had the patience of Job and the strength of our mother. This was MY BIG SISTER.

Apparently, this sales lady had no idea with whom she was sparring…and I was not going to warn her.

The scene appeared Hollywood scripted and in slow motion. I had noticed a slight tightening of my sister’s shoulders upon hearing the woman’s rude remark.

I was sure the sales lady noticed, also, because at that point the lady put her right hand on her right hip, raised her left eyebrow, and gave the slightest smile of great satisfaction.

My sister was viewing her new outfit and herself in the full-length mirror. I was behind her on her left. The sales lady was behind her on her right.

I watched my sister’s image in the mirror. Sis moved her gaze upward from the mirror image of herself and turned her eyes to the mirror image of the sales lady.

A smile now formed on her mouth.

This was my first and probably the best lesson in timing in my life.

Sis pivoted around slowly to her right and stared directly into the eyes of the sales lady.

“No,” she answered, young pearly whites shining.” He’s my father.”

I loved it.


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