My Sister’s Heater

My relationship with my sister, in one story:

My cell phone rang as I was getting ready to drive into the city for a quick Christmas errand. I needed to buy my first daughter a holiday dress. I knew it would make her happy if she got a special something, and I wanted to take the time to find something really great for her that I could not find in any store near me.

I see it’s my sister calling and I answer my cell. “Hey,” she says. “What are you doing?” “Hey,” I say. “Why are you calling me from home? And what’s that noise? I can hardly hear you,” I say.

“The heater in my apartment won’t work. It’s blasting my window, which has holes. It’s freezing out, and I’m using my blowdryer to warm myself up!” 

Oh,” I say. “Uh-oh,” I say to myself. And, after explaining to her that I’m rushing into the city for a quick shop, I tell her that she should get out of that meatlocker of an apartment and  meet me there. “Come join me for an hour!” I say. And she explains that she needs a new heater and needs it today, and actually, if I happened to have an extra one, she’d be happy to borrow it from me.

“Well, I don’t have an extra one,” I say, “But why don’t you go to Walgreen’s and pick one up. They’re probably 50% off! Oh – you don’t have a way to get it home from Walgreen’s other than to walk? Well, why, I’ll give you a ride home,” I say – even though it’s completely  out of my way.

“GET OUT NOW!!!” the wise reader cries. I wish I can hear you...

The next thing I know, she calls me back to tell me that she found a guy from Craig’s List who is willing to sell her his office radiators (a sign of the times) from his office in the financial district for a song. “$80 for two. Oh, and can I borrow $30 bucks? And can you help me get them home?” she asks. 

So, within a half an hour, I am quickly transforming my afternoon  from having a quick, enjoyable Christmas errand in the city – timed perfectly so that I can pick up my kids on time from school –  turned into an afternoon of meeting my sister, lending her money, picking up two 50 pound heaters from some weird office dude in the Financial District, carrying them to wherever I parked my car and driving them ALL THE WAY to her place near the airport. Which, because of my kind and generous holiday spirit (ha! really it’s my GUILTY sucker conscious), I agree to.

But then she calls me back to say that the office dude will only be there between 2 and 3 in the afternoon – excatly the time when I should be shopping and then getting back over the bridge to gather the kids. And I spill – I turn – I disintegrate into whiny bitch sister who finally says NO WAY. And she gets angry with me and starts to tell me that she feels like I’m admonishing her for not having heat. And she can’t help it that she doesn’t have friends to ask; how she wishes she didn’t have to ask me. And she’s not borrowing the money but using money that I actually owe her… And I am listening, dumbfounded, with my ear stuck to the phone. Stupified. She has done it again. The same thing shes done for the last 40 years of my life. How did my happy hour of shopping fun turn into this???

(You do realize now, reader, that this is an exorcise – I mean exercise – in preventing “little sister manipulation”.)

The next thing I know, I’m trying to think of the perfect excuse for why I absolutely can NOT make it into the city that afternoon. First daughter REALLY doesn’t need that new dress.  Maybe if I say I’ve got a flat tire on my brand new car? Not likely enough; she’ll see right through it. Hmmm, maybe she should.

OK , what then?!?!? I know – I’ll tell her the truth. So, now I’m on my way into the city. I call her on my cell and I tell her that I’m actually really angry at her and that I intensely dislike how she seems to always turn around a supposedly simple sister fun-meet into a how-can-older-sister-benefit-from-younger-sister’s-pliable-personality-meet?

My afternoon has now turned to shit. And she’s still meeting me because she needs to prove that she really did want to meet me. It wasn’t all about needing that heater – really!

End result: Sister finds ANOTHER dude on Craig’s List who is willing to drive half an hour out of his way to meet her at office dude’s place, pick her and her two 50 pound heaters in the Financial District, drive her and said heaters to her apartment on the outskirts of nowhere – and TRADE yet a third heater that he has – ALL FOR A BACK MASSAGE!!!

Well, Sister  – how you do it, I don’t know. I’m just glad it wasn’t me… this time!


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