Sunday, April 10, 2011

Calamity Kathy

"Don't call me a girl!  I'm a boy-girl!" she bellowed turning on her heels.  "I like BOY stuff.  They have better stuff than girls!" she ferociously fired over her shoulder.  Stomping out of the house in her fancy new cowboy clothes she headed out West in search of cattle rustlers and Indians.  Yep.  She was a boy-girl.  My sister.  Calamity Kathy.  Dr. Smith delivered her on August 27, 1960, and announced, "She'll be the meanest kid on the block."  If he made any sort of pronouncement over my naked newborn body, he most assuredly used the words "princess" and "poised" and "Future Miss Panola County."   

Kathy's hair was pale, lemony blonde and straight as a board with jiggety jagged edges that tattle-tailed a singsong, "Someone's been playing with Mo-om's sewing scis-sors..."  Her pearly cat-eye glasses sat precariously on the tip of her little nub of a nose smudgy from being pushed up all day long by a cowgirl riding the range of E. Neal Street in search of missing steers and wayward dogs.  The toes of her wrong-footed cowboy boots pointed outward as they clomped a hollow beat down the driveway.

She and I could not have been more opposite if we tried.  She would meet an invitation to play beauty pageant in the living room with spitting on the ground and grandiose eyerolling. 

"Geee-awww, Cure-lun (her version of 'Carolyn').  NOBODY likes to play pageants.  That's stupid!" she spat with complete disgust.

"I won't make you wear eye makeup or lipstick!  You can wear one of Mom's silky nightgowns instead of a scratchy party dress!" I pled wheeling and dealing with Boy-Girl.

Then, I sweetened the deal by offering up the ultimate sacrifice, "I'll let you WIN this time!  I'll crown you Miss Panola County!"

Oh, how I longed to hold her down long enough to brush her hair and clip a pink plastic barrette on each side of her part to control the wild bits of hair that constantly cascaded down her face!  I was even willing to go as far as telling her that we were playing cowboys and Indians so that she wouldn't struggle too much when I tied her to a chair.  I cunningly tried Grandma Kinzbach's famous scare tactic by reminding Kathy that a girl with hair in her face could go permanently and completely cross-eyed. 

While I played quietly with my Barbies in the air-conditioned comfort of our bedroom, she was outside whooping and hollering with the neighborhood boys.   The Christmas that she got the cardboard Barbie Dream House, I just about went into a midwinter rigor - wild with jealousy.  I tried to discreetly slide it over to my side of the closet one "scooch" at a time, but my mother was wise to me.

"Santa Claus brought that to Kathy!  You can play with it, but you have to ask her if it's OK first," Mom scolded.

"Yea, but Santa Claus doesn't know her like WE do!  She HATES Barbies!  She'll just tear the Dream House up with all of her GI Joe junk," I whined.

"Well, it's hers to play with as she pleases!" Mom reminded me as she headed towards the kitchen.  "Make sure you ask her if it's OK to play with it!"

Taking a deep breath and sucking in all of my older sister pride, I gave Kathy a saccarine smile showing my gritted teeth and sweetly asked,  "Kathy, is it OK if I play with your Dream House?"

Grinning a wicked, crooked-toothed smile she quickly came back with "No!" and skipped out of the room scuffing her heels on the hardwood floor.
Like her brother, Kirk, Kathy loved to parade
around the neighborhood bare-chested.
Much to my dismay, my mother embraced the cowboy side of my little sister.  She actually ran outside with her Brownie Instamatic to waste precious film taking snapshots of my catastrophe of a protege.  On the back of this picture my mother jotted these words:  "This is how Kathy likes to dress at three years old - Summer 1964."  I would have written "We are still working on this child.  She is a very slow learner."  As her older sister, I felt gypped by a little sister who dared to walk away from my attempts to turn her into a swan.  

Just when I thought my mortification was complete, Kathy decided to join the band in Junior High.  I was a drill team girl.  I had taken dance most of my life.  Kathy hadn't so much as taken a piano lesson.    I was sure that as Kathy matured into a teenager, she would seek my beauty secrets in earnest.  Nope.  To spite me, she chose the gawky trombone over the precious, feminine flute,  and swore that she would never, ever, ever, EVER wear makeup.  

Turns out little Kathy grew up into a blonde beauty with a dimple on her right cheek that charmed the hearts of all those who knew her.  She no longer swaggered around the neighborhood looking to join in a sweaty touch football game or a hearty pinecone war.  She began to color coordinate her clothes and became more careful about wearing her shoes on the right feet.  She slowly transformed from a boy-girl to a man-lady.  She took life by the horns and jumped in for the wild ride laughing through the twists and turns with her arms thrust high above her head.  That tangly-haired, six-shooter-firing scalawag became my hero.

The very next time I get together with Penny and Kristy to reenact one of our famous living room Miss Panola County pageants, I will eat fire and throw knives during the talent portion of the competition while singing "Whatever Lola Wants."  Go, Cure-lin, Go!


Connie said...

Thank you for posting this adorable story. I feel that I know Kathy a little better...although I never had the pleasure of meeting her. Sounds like a fun household...and a jolly good time.

Carolyn Lackey said...

Thanks, Connie!

Lisa Buffaloe said...

Oh man, I knew I loved Kathy! We would have had a great time together during our early years.

I still miss her. Can't wait to see her again. Yep, you are stuck with us both for eternity! :D

Carolyn Lackey said...

Lisa, what a fun eternity it will be!

Barker Crew said...

Ahh...a sister story. I love hearing about your Kathy.

Carolyn Lackey said...

Thanks "Barker Crew!" {;-)

Anabeth said...

absolutely the best part of Kathy!
the man-lady that we all knew her to be. your memories are fair...and hilarious!


Carolyn Lackey said...

Thanks, Lulu!!! You would know!


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