Starts with a T and ends with an E. Or not.

So. Fifth grade Christmas. Full of visions of Atari  64's  and Jordache jeans.

We lived in the Spooky House. I wanted a cabbage patch who looked like me (i.e., chubby with a bad bangs perm and glasses), and my big sister just wanted a phone. Spooky House had a phone shelf right between the kitchen and the bathroom, so you had to either stare at the toilet or pine for the kitchen- no rest and no satisfaction.

All my big sis wanted was her own telephone. Wellllllllll, I was a snoopy child. I was the kind of person who can shake a wrapped gift box and know that it is chock full of rocks surrounding the perfect set of shrimp gold earrings or an add-a-bead necklace. I discovered, through legitimate channels, that my sister was getting a Microscope from our dad. Microscope. Telescope. Same thing to a ten year old girl more interested in Pat Benetar tapes and a rainbow spectrum of jelly sandals.

"I knoooooooow what you're gettttting for Christmas...."

When you are ten years old, and your sister is a way cooler fifteen years old, buttercups, these words have power. Raw power.

The sister, the sister's BFF, and me. With all of my power.




I think I wielded this power for months, and probably used it to worm my way into tagging along on dates and anything else I could glom onto. Okay, maybe just days instead of months, but I had, for the first time in my life, power.

"I know what you are getting for Christmas..."

Eventually this starting ringing a bit hollow, and I had to give up details to keep my power. THE present- animal, vegetable or mineral? Big or small? Colors....

My answers, doled out a morsel at a time, were ingenious in my eyes...

"Red."

"Metal/plastic-ish."

"You can use it every day."

And the granddaddy of all hints, the one that I was so stinking proud of?
"It starts with a 't', ends with an 'e', and has three syllables."

You might be asking "What the hell?!", knowing that a microscope actually starts with an 'M', but in my infinite and powerful, errr, stupidity, I thought she was getting a TelescopE.

My poor sister must have thought she was getting something along the lines of a shiny red phone, all her own. Christmas morning, she opened a shiny red microscope. I am pretty sure that I got beaten with a penny loafer, as I explained that I thought it was a TelescopE. And then when I opened my present, which was NOT a Cabbage Patch Kid,

Neither a Telescope nor a Cabbage Patch Kid.

I became the most hated little sister. Ever. Funny thing is, I would have preferred looking at dead things under the microscope...










I learned several things on December 25th, 1984. The difference between a telescope and a microscope. That most teenaged girls will not use a microscope every day. Or at all. That Cabbage Patch dolls cost the equivalent of a house payment on the black market. That the loathing of a big sister stings worse than being smacked with a penny loafer. And that Mickey Mouse was a cold comfort, but one that would stick around for at least a decade.

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