Never pretend to be sleeping

She was an over-achiever from birth.  My sister, T, has incredible intellectual horsepower, combined with quick wit and the ability to use words as weapons.  Even as a child, she would frequently be able to reduce adults to tears.  Parents attempting to intervene in neighborhood scuffles, teachers, merchants… no one was safe from her verbal warfare skills.

Just twenty-two months older, we were closely coupled growing up.  i was a large lumpy child, and she was small and lean.  Despite our age difference, we were frequently mistaken for twins.  Competitive to the core, she never really played, even as a little kid.  Friendly games of “Capture the Flag” in the soybean fields behind our house were combat.  Not content to play flute, she made a successful switch to saxophone in high school and scored a coveted spot in the jazz ensemble.  Academics were no different, as she powered her way through school*.

By the time we were in high school, i was pretty comfortable being in her shadow.  It often worked to my advantage as a new teacher would say “Oh, you’re T’s sister…” and give me the genetic benefit of the doubt before i ever opened a book. 

The only time i ever remember a concession of defeat to “Li’l Dumpy” was on the guitar.  She’d hacked around with it for a few years, but had no great skill.  Rather than go head-to-head with her in competition, i borrowed Dad’s classical guitar when she wasn’t around and taught myself to play.  i was about twelve years old.  i knew i was better, but kept the little secret to myself just to avoid conflict.  Some drama club party we both attended afforded the first opportunity for me to play in public and once she realized i had surpassed her, she never touched the guitar again.  Small victory for the dumpy sister…

She was very active in band and drama, and served as a mentor to many younger students.  It was around this time that she started spending time with one of my good friends, SL.  They became inseparable, and T had apparently taken SL under her wing as a protege.  SL accompanied my family on a visit to Grandma’s in Indiana for a long Easter weekend.  Nothing really out of the ordinary for us to bring along a friend on such a trip.

Grandma’s house had limited space, so i was relegated to a sleeping bag on the floor of the spare bedroom while T and SL camped in the queen size bed, directly above me.  Tired from a day of travel, i was trying my damnedest to get some sleep, and simply ignored them as they made snarky comments about me, obviously trying to get a reaction.  Eventually, T reached over the bed to poke me. 

Rather than play the game, i pretended to be soundly asleep.  Turns out?  This was a supremely bad call on my part…

What i overheard next was the unmistakable sound of my sister and my friend engaging in quiet, but enthusiastic, sex.  Eyes opening “cartoon window shade” style, i was frozen on the floor and at a loss for how to extract myself from this rather unfortunate moment.  At fourteen, this is probably not the best way to find out your older sister is a lesbian.


* She is very smart, but had to work at it.  As testament to her tenacity, she managed to go through her PhD in Business with a nearly perfect academic record.  All “A’s” (highest honors) – except for one lonely “B” – for her Associates Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree and PhD.  She escaped The Park after graduation, and has had a rather remarkable career as a professor, and now Dean of Graduate Research, at a major university.

24 thoughts on “Never pretend to be sleeping

  1. One time, I was pretending to sleep and my GRANDMOTHER came into the room, took all her clothes off, gave herself a little birdbath with a washcloth and got dressed again. Talk about your unfortunate moment! I wanted to rip my eyes out of my head.

  2. If I wasn’t already reeling from the details of such a tricky situation fae yourself at such a young age, along comes UB and completely cleans my clock of any further comment.

    Did any of us have anything at all resembling a normal childhood?

  3. unbearable banishment – ouch. you could have closed your eyes – i mean, you were pretending to be asleep and all… but that’s the trainwreck factor. can’t look away… did i say “ouch”?

    tigereyesal – yes. out with the family before she married a nice gentleman she met driving a cab (yep. no issues with her sexual preference, but she decided to marry a palistinean man at the height of the first gulf war… we accepted all that, too…). and it’s a non-issue for her at the university. tolerant envirnoment. unspoken acceptance without making a big deal of it… nice. kinda how it should be…

    jimmy – part of my point is that we are composed partially of how we’re wired along with the sum total of all we’ve experienced. those early years? i saw and experienced a lot of things that would be considered pretty freaky… and that helped establish a degree of tolerance in me, along with the ability to deal with anything that comes my way. seriously, sir, i have no doubt that i could dispose of a body if i had to… haven’t run into that one. yet.

    DP – Funny you should ask… hey! look! a shiny object! right there over on that bench! better hurry before the wind takes it!

    tNb – seriously, seriously awkward. the next night? i “accidently” fell asleep on the couch in the living room, and pretended that i was too tired to go to the back bedroom…. avoid.avoid.avoid.avoid…..

  4. I wouldn’t have done it with somebody else in the room, even if they were “asleep.” Just me, I like my privacy unless it’s an orgy or something. Good of you to sleep on the couch the next night. That should have told your sister something.

    My brother was the same way. I think we knew from the time he was small that he would be gay. No surprise there. But he’s been with the same guy for over 30 years now, and I’m happy for him.

  5. I’ve been reading here long enough that, contrary to others, I did see that ending coming.

    I’m gaining a deeper appreciation for the rationale behind the question you left for me on my “Ask the Blogger” post.

    I believe that, I too, could dispose of a body. If I had to.

  6. Nice conclusion – like someone else mentioned above, I didn’t see that coming. My sister’s coming out involved a phone call, and it fomented different issues between us, but her sexuality wasn’t one of them. Either way, I agree it’s nice to have an older sibling sorta establish the trail once in a while, particularly in the formative years.

    peace, SA

  7. Oh…that is so very beautiful. Teenaged lesbian awakenings are one of the most beautiful of nature’s creations. I’m sorry that this was probably traumatic for you, but it was all worth it as I touch myself right now. Never has someone suffered so much, so that I might enjoy it years later.

  8. Oh my god, U.Keith, you’re hysterical. I was thinking as I read this NOT to let my husband read this entry so I could seeing that creepy look spread across his face.
    So Daisyfae, did you ever tell sis you were awake that night?

  9. silverstar – yeah, unless everyone is involved (even running the video camera counts as involved), i’m thinking there’s no point in being there… many more stories on this thread… we had our ‘downs’ and ‘ups’ along the way after that…

    stephanie – *snort*, yeah…. unfortunately, neither did i at the time!

    rob – you must have remembered me writing about her and her current girlfriend, a former professional lady golfer! but it does sort of get predictable after awhile… part of the reason i’m out here. get a better understanding of how i became so numb. so ridiculously fucking cold inside…

    sonny – it was about 10 years later that she came out to the rest of the family. during her first hospitalization/treatment for bipolar disorder. by then the rest of them had already figured it out, so it was a bit anticlimactic. about two years after the incident above, she and i became open about her sexual preference, and i think it helped her through some of the rough spots…

    renal failure – relax, it’s not “Tina”… my sister does not terrorize her ultra-conservative, “hide under the couch because the homos are coming” neighbors. at least not that i know of… have to ask her about that…

    nicole – in hindsight, it’s pretty hysterical… in the grand scheme of the weird shit that happened to me along the way? this is pretty small potatos… “No younger siblings were actually harmed in the making of this story”…

    uncle keith – alas, these were two band chicks. it was the late 70’s, so think “Giant Owl Glasses”, with really bad complexions. there. i feel better now…. but, if i told you stories about her hot french girlfriend, the one who was pall bearer at my dad’s funeral? that’d bring you to your knees, buddy…

    mstngsal – no. but a couple years later, she was dealing with some very ugly shit with her girlfriend at the time and a scary redneck bulldyke, who was threatening her. i learned about the threats, and went to T, told her i knew what was up, and asked her if she needed help… not exactly the stuff of an “ABC Afterschool Special”, but it brought us back together following an ugly two year rift that no one else in the family understood… (but i’ll write up the part where i tried to strangle her some other day…)

  10. uncle keith – maybe. but she was pretty batty in the endgame. caused lots of problems. i wanted to hit her with a board…

    ~m – drop an e-mail. there’s a lot more to this story. it’s ended reasonably well. for now…

  11. I think my sister is a lesbian. I don’t know though. She may not be. It really doesn’t matter if she is or not, but the curiosity is fucking killing me.

    Also, awesome story.

  12. wow. your sister was one bold 16 year old.

    i just went to a wedding reception where the groom was clearly gay (flanked closely by a “good friend” during the whole reception and then they decided to take everyone to the gay club so that they could “dance” after hours)

    your post made me think of this story. my mom’s sister came out as lesbian after living with a woman. right after she married a guy. funny how things become unwired sometimes.

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