Nov 10, 2010

Kind Of A Long Story: The Girl Who Never Slept Alone



When Kathleen was little I used to say she looked like a gorilla baby.

Let me explain. This was in the height of Cabbage Patch doll craziness. And there was no way no how I was going to get one because our parents led us to believe we were poor when we were young.

True, our parents were thrifty, and had a spartan approach in general to spending but in hindsight I think this exaggerated sense of us being unable to afford anything cool... ever... was limited to designer fads (which were aplenty in the eighties) like Jams, Guess Jeans and Cabbage Patch dolls, but not stuff our parents liked (okay, and we benefited from, too), like... oh, say... a lake front house in the woods of East Texas.

I was an idiot kid, though, and thought the woods were boring and would rather have sidewalks to rollerskate on, and cable TV... and a Cabbage Patch doll.

But I got Kathleen. Since the dolls of the patch were so in vogue, that meant ugly-cute was in, so I was okay with Kathleen being a bit gorilla-ish in my nine-year old mind. Listen, I thought her nose was just a little, well, nostrilly.

But I also thought she was my own personal plaything. So once she outgrew her crib, and became somewhat interesting. I did everything with her.

And she never. Ever. Slept alone.


This photo of her is very deceptive for several reasons.

1.) Kathleen's nose looks kind of cute. Almost buttonish. It's the angle. Or, my perception has changed with age, and I realize that my fixation with Kathleen's nose was probably erroneous. But, the damage is done, since now Kathleen has spent her entire life willing herself into fabulousness. No serious damage, since it actually worked. She is fabulous.

2.) Kathleen is in a dress, like this is normal or something. In fact, to the contrary, she was often topless until she was four. Or in some oversized t-shirt that our aunt brought back from Holland.

3.) Kathleen is holding a kitty doll. This may have been her favorite at age two or three. But by four years old, the kitty was replaced with the first love of her life, Alf. How Kathleen got an actual Alf doll (that was not some generic concoction made by my mom out of old pantyhose... which don't laugh... was what she eventually made me a Cabbage Patch doll out of, and were so popular she'd sell them at the the country church craft fair) was beyond me.

4.) Kathleen is sitting sweetly upon her sweet, Strawberry Shortcake bed. Mom made the comforter, the quilted wall hanging and the alcove curtains. You can't see it here, but both our beds were set in alcoves, and we had these neat curtains on either side that we could close, and then pretend our bed was a stage or a secret clubhouse, or whatever. Both of our bedding was made out of miniature rosebud gingham fabric. Mine in navy and periwinkle. Kathleen's in pink and cranberry. But usually she was sleeping in my bed, or I was sleeping in hers.

With two of us in a twin bed, she'd often fall down the crack on the side of the wall. The padded Strawberry Shortcake wall hanging kind of helped her to not scrape the skin off her body on the way down. So, yay, form and function.

By the time Kathleen was getting all knees and elbows and getting too big to sleep with anymore, we got our mangy little Lhasa Apso family lapdog, Cecily. But Cecily decided she was Kathleen's, probably because I thought she was so mangy. So, naturally Cecily slept with Kathleen.

Then when Kathleen moved out, she lived with Donny in their stinky, dirty socks everywhere, pizza boxes everywhere, twinkly lights strung willy nilly everywhere college rental house. Not that she slept with Donny (although Donny did have a girlfriend once who got in a jealous rage over Kathleen and implied that they had some sort of Flowers in The Attic brother/sister thing going on.) I can only write that because it's so silly. I mean, duh, Kathleen never even slept in the apartment, because she was always at her boyfriends.' Donny had to befriend some skinny castoff stray little black cat so he didn't get so lonely and make imaginary friends out of dirty sock puppets and talking pizza boxes.

The point being, boyfriend turned to husband. And then husbands. Yes, plural... husband(s). Not in a Big Love way, like in a one-before-the-other-sort-of-way (which is another post entirely), all before the ripe old age of 26. So Kathleen, in short, is the girl who never slept alone.

Some might think that this is a personality flaw. How can you have never been alone? No My So Called Life lovelorn Claire Danes sobbing? No Ally McBeal single gal musical production pining? (Yeah, um, so that was kind of my m.o. obviously.)

And it's not that Kathleen has never shed a tear. You better believe she can wallow in a pity party. "Why-am-I-so-fill-in-the-blank?" Or "why-doesn't-anybody-think-I'm-fill-in-the-blank?" (Blow nose here).

It's just that the tears (and snot) on her pillow, are always next to another pillow. The pillow of a sister, a dog, a brother, a boyfriend, a hubby... a "other."

Maybe that's why her tattoo is an ampersand. "And Kathleen" by design but, take it or leave it, also by nature.

Ah, well. A nose by any other name would smell as sweet. And, I think she grew into hers after all.


  1. Damn, I wish you knew me well enough to write fantastic stories like this! I'll have to get one of my sisters on it. Haha.

  2. My trekking buddies thought it was hilarious that, at night, I would squeeze onto a tiny twin cot with Jeremy - with me on the inside right next to the plywood wall. I should direct them to this post and tell them I've had practice.

  3. Kathleen, you should have told your trekking buddies about how I wiped your butt until you were five, too. That would have made the whole pooping being a public subject make sense, too.

  4. Haha you guys are hilarious. FIVE? REALLY? :P
    I feel like I know Kathleen so well now, almost stalkerishly. (I'm gonna have to eventually go visit her or just go sneak around peekin in her windows)
    p.s. Tara I love your style of writing, it really keeps me reading!


  5. Thanks tomorrow.

    Yes, five, really. She'd just sit there and yell for someone. "Wipe!"

    Sometimes we'd wait her out to just see if she'd wipe her own bottom. But she would just sit in there, daydreaming or whatever, for like thirty minutes. So eventually I'd just go wipe her bottom. My parents did have a pretty picture window overlooking the lake in their bathroom (which was her bathroom of preference for pooping) so she was probably just enjoying the view. Kind of sounds like Nepal.

  6. Okay, so Sarcastic Bastard just made the funniest comment:

    "Greater love hath no woman than to wipe her sister's ass."

    And I accidentally deleted it... so...

    1.) I don't want SB to think I can't "handle" what he's dishing

    2.) Kathleen is totally going to make fun of me for being like an old lady on my computer who can't hit the right key (because this is the second time I've done this); but

    3.) She is going to have to suck it... because I wiped her ass

  7. Actually, you couldn't have possibly known this, but Sarcastic Bastard is a chick. Sarcastic Bitch just didn't pack the same punch. And I stand by what I said. Kathleen owes you BIG TIME.

    Have a great weekend.

  8. Well paint me pink and stick a bow on me!

    You have a great weekend, too, Ms. Sarcastic B.