A Very Happy Birthday to My Sister!

TheLadyEve: "either this baby is plastic or my stethoscope's stopped!"

TheLadyEve: The Early Years

It was September 5th at around 9:30 AM* when my little sister was finally born, after not just nine months but nine years of waiting. Our parents had been working on a third child for about as long as I can remember. I started to read very young, and a fair number of the books I pulled out of the shelf were about conception (The Origin Of Johnny), fetal development (A Child Is Born), or sex selection (Girl Or Boy: Your Chance to Choose). Our parents probably had hopeless moments, but for me, it was more a question of when than whether I would have a little sibling.

I remember the first grainy ultrasound picture going up on the fridge. Our mother wrote “Charlie” in pencil on the back. Not long after, she had an amniocentesis due to her “advanced maternal age” of 42. The results were 46, XX . Baby’s first practical joke.

Sometime in that last hot California August before TheLadyEve's birth, my sister E. and I rode our bikes to The Shirt Stop and had a big yellow T-shirt made for Mama with a red warning label across the lower belly: Caution: Contents Under Pressure!

We waited at Stanford Hospital for ten hours, harangued by another pair of nervous siblings who were acting out in the waiting area. Our mother’s obstetrician, Dr. Baldwin, had a wry, conspiratorial grin as he motioned us at last into the delivery room to watch our little sister get washed and weighed. She was bright red and kicking; even her hair seemed enraged.

Damn, I thought. She looks pissed off.

Our father brought champagne to Mama’s room and we got to try it, not in Dixie cups but in real plastic champagne glasses, the kind with the bowl and stem that snap together.

It did not take long for that angry little mop top to become TheLadyEve: auteur, entrepreneur, publisher, pastry chef, humanitarian, and humorist. Her early attempts at humor (“Hey, S., how many chickens does it take to change a light bulb?....Two!”) did result in the following injunction from our father: “No jokes ‘til you’re six, LadyEve!” But her work quickly gained speed. She gave Dr. Johnson a run for his money by age four, when she expanded the English language with such rich new words as inducive (which means “when you bend it, it hurts”: my hand is inducive) and disolovent (“soft, snuggly, and comfortable to lie on”).

Always questioning, TheLadyEve’s thirsty intellect provided hours of entertainment: “E.? What are chicken slacks†? And why is he dancing with them?” (see 23 seconds in for context). Or, “why did she dream there were clowns in her office‡?” (see 1.20 and 2.20).

My sister’s early forays into publishing revealed her prescience. Her newsletters, which were hand-delivered to the family mailbox, foreshadowed the tenor of today’s MSM: “Some sources say that President George H.W. Bush is actually a chicken!” Her interest in non-profit ventures began around the same time, with the creation of the David “Pinpoint” Jones Foundation for Eight-Year-Olds. The Foundation, headed by David “Pinpoint” Jones and his brother Elliot “Whiplash” Jones, sent fundraising flyers admonishing us to “Please remember to support your local 8-year-old. Mr. Jones says, ‘get on the stick!’”

At age 9, TheLadyEve made the local paper by stirring shit from our cousin’s miniature pony up with water and carting it around the neighborhood in a little red wagon, marketing it as “Liquanure” fertilizer.

These early ventures, and all of her grand projects since, are marked by a crystalline focus and dedication that has left her at various times passed out covered with powdered sugar next to a flawless linzer torte for her high school English class, or practicing TaeKwon-Do with a fractured toe, or tackling two jobs and two majors in college. Everyone associated with these ventures—Prevention Point Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern, Chicago Lakeshore Hospital—has benefitted almost as much as I have. Almost. And, she still finds time to make us laugh.

I have much more to say, but perhaps it's best if I keep it for another day, and just say Happy Birthday, M.—you're the best thing that ever happened to me.

Love, S.

*I think it was 9:36 AM; I’ll have to check my diary from the time, but it’s in another state at the moment.

He's dancing with the chick in slacks/She's a-movin' up and back/Man there ain't nothing like/Twistin' the night away

I had some dreams/They were clouds in my coffee/Clouds in my coffee and/You're so vain...

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