The Ice Machine

I love my sister all the time.

Yes, there have been times when I have loved my sister a little bit less… like, when she pulled my hair and pinched me and scratched me with her surprisingly long, sharp fingernails daily for the first fourteen years of my life. And, when she cut my hair while I slept. And, when she convinced me (more than once) to trade all of my Halloween candy for what’s behind door #1 (fruit). And, when threatened to throw me down a well like Baby Jessica… Those were some of the times when I loved my sister a little bit less.

But there was one time when I loved my sister a little bit more: September 25, 2009.

I should mention… I love Pearl Jam. The band; not the jam made of pearls (is there such a thing?). I’m not mentioning my love of Pearl Jam just because I can (although I do like to do that), I’m mentioning it because it’s an important part of the story.

My sister and I have a shared love of Pearl Jam, which began in our formative years (early 1990s) and has lasted well into adulthood. We have attended several concerts together, and consider ourselves fans (I don’t mean the instrument that produces a current of air… I mean: admirers, supporters). We enjoy Pearl Jam’s music, and we admire the band’s talent and artistry. It obviously has nothing to do with the fact that Eddie Vedder is a handsome hunk of a man, with an impassioned, rousing vocal quality.

I digress.

My sister’s friend (we’ll call her Paula) worked at a very nice hotel in downtown Vancouver. The night of the concert, Paula arranged a hotel room for my sister and her husband, and offered to baby-sit their children. My sister hadn’t been away from her children in a very long time, and she was very excited.

The night of the concert my sister and her husband picked us up and we all headed downtown together. My sister suggested that we stop by their room for a pre-show cocktail. (Who’s going to turn down a pre-show cocktail?)

When we arrived to the room, there was an envelope on the table. My sister opened it, read it, fell to her knees, and started screaming. I took the card from her, read it, fell to my knees, and started screaming. Our husbands both looked at us like we were crazy.

The card was from Paula and it read: Hi Michelle, I hope you enjoy your stay, and I hope you enjoy sharing a floor with your favorite band. 

My sister and I immediately went to get ice from the machine down the hall, hoping to bump into Stone, Jeff, Mike, Matt, or bump into Eddie. I knew just what I would say: “Oh, hey Eddie. You like ice? I like ice too.”

Our husbands kept trying to get us to come back to the room, but we kept needing more ice. Eventually, our husbands convinced us to go to the concert, so we went. And, it was a fantastic concert (music, lights, band, etc.).

My sister suggested we have a post-show cocktail at the hotel bar. (Who’s going to turn down a post-show cocktail?) As we sat in the hotel bar, I told my sister that I needed to use the washroom. She pointed me to the lobby washroom, but I said that I would really feel more comfortable using the bathroom in their room. My sister said she completely understood and that she would accompany me to the room.

My sister and I made several more trips to the ice machine, eavesdropped at a few doors, analyzed room service trays, laughed so hard we cried, and then returned to our tolerant husbands at the bar.

Here’s why I loved my sister a little bit more:

My sister is a cool, collected (not to mention brilliant) mother of three children and a pillar of her community. Her hobbies include knitting, gardening, and watching historical dramas.

In other words, she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would go get ice eleven times, head-bang at a rock concert, snort with laughter, and make a sign for her car that says: “Honk if you’re going to Pearl Jam”.

I realized that night: September 25, 2009, that my sister is a juxtaposition, an enigma: a mystery wrapped in a riddle. And that’s why I love her.

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