There was one movie that really defined 11-year-old me: Home Alone, the story of an 8-year-old mistakenly left home, alone. I watched Home Alone repeatedly, even when it wasn’t Christmas and both of my parents were at home.
I could relate to Kevin McAllister. He was misunderstood, underestimated, and left home alone on a regular basis (see Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Home Alone 3, and Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House).
I felt Kevin’s pain, because my mom worked part-time at Sears so I was home, alone… every afternoon from 3:00pm until 5:30pm, when she returned from work.
My older sister was in high school and wasn’t home (alone or not) very often. When she was home she was in her room, listening to heavy metal music with the curtains drawn. The incense was always burning.
As an 11-year-old precocious, yet lovable child, I wanted to hang out with my older sister, but she wouldn’t have it. Yes, I felt rejected and hurt, and those feelings of rejection and pain may have led me to behave in ways that some people may consider “naughty”. I wanted her attention: positive or negative.
One Spring day she had her bestie over. They were down in her room, listening to heavy metal music with the curtains drawn. I went downstairs because I wanted to know what they were doing, and if I could hang out with them.
I knocked lightly twice. Michelle told me to “go away”. I knocked again, louder this time, to let her know I was serious. She told me to “get lost”. I knocked a third time, with some force.
The door opened, and my dear sister let loose with a verbal tirade that would have made a sailor blush, and included one four-letter word. She then gave me a little shove backward and slammed the door shut in my face.
For 15 years, my mother and father (AKA, “mom” and “dad”) were under the impression that my sister was “the good one”. I was blamed, framed, and accused on a regular basis. Yes, sometimes the information was accurate, but more often that not, it was a BOLD FACE lie.
My sister was their first-born, the cute one, the “good one”.
So… when she slammed the door in my face that afternoon, I smiled.
Why, you ask?
Because there was something she didn’t count on. Like Kevin McAllister, I possessed a piece of newfangled electronic equipment that was able to record such tirades onto a cassette tape.
As I pressed the stop button, I felt vindicated. I had proof of my older, wiser, cuter sister’s imperfection that would surely show my parents who was really “the good one”.
I ran outside to her window. I rewound the tape and knocked on the pane. Annoyed, she drew the curtains back. I held up my cassette recorder. Looking perplexed, she opened the window a crack.
I pressed play. I felt like Kevin McAllister playing back the clip of Angels with Dirty Souls when the pizza boy delivers the pizza, and the Humphrey Bogart character tells him to “Leave it at the doorstep and get the hell out of here!” I held the power (I was drunk with power).
My sister’s eyes widened as she listened to the incriminating evidence. I saw her, and her bestie run toward the door. They were in hot pursuit. I knew she would destroy the tape if she had a chance (which also contained several Roxette songs, including “It Must Have Been Love”).
I slipped inside the back door and locked it behind me. I heard my sister call my name… from outside the house! I went to the front door, pushed it closed, and locked it.
She pounded on the front door, while her bestie stood in awe of my cunning.
I went over to our home stereo system and popped the cassette tape in. I pushed a speaker over to the open window and pressed play. The volume was at 11.
It was at that exact moment my mom drove into the driveway. I thought, her time had come, at last.
My sister ran over to my mom’s car and went in for a hug. My mom, surprised by her first-born daughter’s sudden spurt of parental love, embraced my sister.
I rewound the tape and played it again, for God, and the world to hear.
But, my mom was still hugging my sister. She even put her purse down, so she could hug her better, with both arms.
I knew then… I would always be the second-born, the not-so-cute one, never to be… “the good one”.