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Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Birthday, Karen, Now Cut The Cake Already

It was my sister’s birthday Sunday. She is two years younger than I am, which makes her now 22.


Karen is as she has been since birth, a slender, dark-eyed, and mischievous female with wit and style.

In honor of Ka-wen’s birthday, a little story.

Come sit over here by me.

We have always been a family of note-writers. It would not be unusual to go to my parents’ house only to find, on your drive home, a note in your purse: The Rooster Crows at Midnight, or You Remind The Guy Behind You in Traffic of his Ex-Wife…

I myself prefer to mail them coupons for over-the-counter gas-relief tablets or home pregnancy tests, but to each his own.

One of the very first notes I got from Karen was when I was nine.

I was excited to go to Girl Scout Camp. But I was also extremely nervous and foresaw, as much as a third-grader can, great home-sickness.

We’d only been in this particular town for less than a year; so while I had made a number of friends, those friends had friends they’d known since being in utero. Everyone in those small towns knew everyone’s mom, where they shopped, what time they got home from work, whether or not they liked mushrooms.

Small towns can be lonely places.

And so it was that I packed my uniform and my Girl Scout handbook and pointed my fresh, freckled face toward the school bus that would take us to camp.

An hour or so into the ride, the bus divided into groups of whispering, sharp-eyed girls. My lousy 10 months of residence in this town was not enough to stand up against the life-long knowledge these girls had of each other. I began to try to think of ways to trick the bus driver into turning around. Our dog had epilepsy – could I fake a seizure?

In an effort to fight the rising lump in my throat and hide the face that I knew would betray my feelings, I began to dig through my belongings.

Near the bottom of my bag was a piece of paper folded as small as physically possible. In seven-year-old script – and with a seven-year-old’s spelling – was a note from Karen.

Dear Pearlie Girlie Tree Seed Wirly,
Do you like me? Yes or no. Circel one. And don’t forget where you live while your gone. Hopefly Mom and Dad dont forget who you are but if they do can I have your bed? Ha ha no rilly. OK then dont forget not to pick your nose in publick. Its not like your at home or somthing. Ha ha no rilly.
Love, Karen, your sister who Mom rilly does like beter.

And I started to laugh. What a little freak.

The note made all the difference. All those girls might have had each other, but I had Karen, my tiny little secret weapon.

Happy Birthday, Ka-wen.


Green-Eyed Momster said...

Happy birthday Karen!
She's lucky to have you for her sister!!

I have an award for you!!


the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

You're so much kinder than I. Today is my brother's birthday, and instead I spoke of my best friend and told my brother to go find a rope and to piss up it.

powdergirl said...

I almost cried from reading that!

Both funny and touching, Pearl.

Happy Birthday, Ka-Wen.

Minka said...

How cute! She must be a great sister! Happy birthday from me, too!

Anonymous said...

While I don't personally know Karen I want to wish her a happy birthday based, if nothing else, on her little note to you.

Douglas said...

I learned the secret of dealing with a small town a long time ago... They secretly envy those who have lived elsewhere. You are the mystery, the stranger, the one who has traveled to exotic places (like Hoboken or Backwater, KS... but they don't have to know that).

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

What is happening to me? My eyes are leaking a little. My throat feels closey.

I don't cry ever. You broke me, Ms.Tree Seed Wirly. I think it was "ha ha no rilly" that did me in.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your Sissy!

Of course, I'll be calling her Keggles from now on...


The Retired One said...

I have an older brother, who around the same age..pinned me down with his best friend and colored my nose with florescent orange. I tried to scrub it off using LAVA, COMET cleanser, everything...to no avail. I couldn't WAIT to wail to my mom when she got home.
I ran up to her, indignant, crying.
She pointed and laughed.

Yep, that's why I need therapy today.
Oh well, I have a wonderful sister in law now, and my brother and I made up.

Nazish Rahman said...

Happy Birthday Karen....that was really cute!!!

Reddirt Woman said...

Happy Birthday to Karen.

Sibs are wonderful aren't they?



Ms Sparrow said...

Sounds like your sister Karen is a lot more fun than my younger sister Karen. Best wishes to you both.

Joanie M said...

I love that story!

Happy Birthday, Ka-wen!

Pat said...

I rilly did, in all actuality, laugh out loud at this.

I remember riding the bus to Girl Scout camp, too, and the only one I knew on the bus was my sister.

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

Nice post. Happy birthday, Karen!

Joanna Jenkins said...


Irish Gumbo said...

You're 24? Hmmm...I could have sworn you were 20 :)

Happy birthday, Karen!

♥ Braja said...

Yeah but where's my cake???

Louise said...

That's one very special sister and what a wonderful memory.

bettyl said...

What a great tribute to your sister!