Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sis, Not Sissy

Growing up, Sis used to say she was scared of everything. We'd be in the house, with our parents home and all the lights on, and she'd call me on the phone in my room (she was too frightened to travel down the hall) and say, "I'm scared."

"Of what?" I'd ask.

She'd have to think about it for a minute.


I always took her fearfulness seriously and tried to reason with her, tell her that burglars didn't want her Cabbage Patch Kids. Or that she wouldn't melt if exposed to rainwater, or that, no matter how big it is, a cat can't eat our dog.

She'd usually ignore me, hug herself and repeat, "I'm scared."

So I wasn't surprised, when we gave Sis a little send-off last week, that she expressed some fear about driving her new car to a new state to start a new job.

"What if they're mean?" she said. "What if it doesn't work out and I just wasted all this time? I'm scared."

This time I ignored her.

While it's perfectly normal for a person to express anxiety over big life changes, I don't buy Sis's shakes for one second. It's taken me a while to catch on, but I've finally realized: Sis – for all her apprehensive blubbering – is fearless.

She's not afraid to drive 130 mph without insurance in a car that may or may not have brakes – in fact, she's been pulled over twice for doing just that. And each time, she wasn't afraid to try to sweet-talk her way out of a ticket (once, it even worked).

She has no fear about sleeping with razors in her bed, eating at a C-rated Taco Bell or sharing an apartment with a mouse (which she eventually killed by accidentally sitting on it).

Plus, for all her alleged trepidation, Sis is no wallflower. She once asked the hostess of a fancy-schmancy L.A. restaurant, "Who here is famous?" I was mortified, but the hostess responded to Sis's chutzpah, and I'm happy to report that Aimee Mann and Michael Penn are truly lovely people.

Sis has no qualms about asking people to do the most ridiculous things for her: When she decided that her personal trainer, a buff gent with six-pack abs, wasn't adequately inspiring, she got him to take off his shirt while she did crunches.

"So he stands over you with his shirt off in the gym?" I asked, incredulous.

"Yeah, and when I'm working different parts of my abs, I tell him, 'OK, turn to the side.' "

Those guys from "300" got nothing on Sis. If she had been in the Greek army, the Persians would have wound up doing her laundry. So she can tell me all she wants that she's terrified. I'm not listening.

As I write this, Sis is on the road, her first road trip ever out of California (not counting a couple of weekend jaunts to Las Vegas – which I just consider really long drives to Disneyland). She's driving at night. Alone. It's probably a bit colder than she's used to, but I'm not worried about her.

She's heading to a new life in the Pacific Northwest, blazing a trail through a wild, wide-open future, all her possessions crammed into a car, eight hours of music that she ripped off of my iTunes blaring on her stereo.

I'm confident that, despite her worries, Sis will be ordering around some flannel-wearing gym rat, speeding through Oregon streets and barging her way into the hottest clubs in no time.

People of Oregon, Sis is coming your way.

You should be scared.

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