Technology, much as I resent it, has kept us close throughout the
years. So much so that when we visit one another, it's as if no time
has passed at all.
We are like the original Laverne and Shirley,
bumbling our way through life's stressful situations and leaning on
each other for support. We have our many neuroses between the two of
us. Some of these are compounded with nearness to each other.
Our last visit was a memorable one. We were together for a whole
week. My husband would say it was a dangerous thing. We didn't know
what he was talking about.
When my sister and I talk on the phone or e-mail, our
similarities are obvious. However, when we are together and have to
deal with the minutiae of life with children, our differences are
For example, I like whole-wheat bread for my family -- it's
healthier; she likes white bread, but only if it's super thin --
it's healthier. I like skim milk -- less fat; she's of the organic,
2 percent persuasion -- less growth hormones. She's spiritually
centered -- likes the structure; I am rather ambivalent about
organized religion and the afterlife -- I'm not even counting on
Social Security. She and her family are allergic to everything; we
are fortunate to be selectively allergic.
Imagine this combination of people camping in a cabin.
The cabin I booked was supposed to be equipped with a
kitchenette, so we brought milk -- organic, 2 percent -- and those
little bite-size cereal boxes for breakfast. Her family liked the
Cinnamon Toast Crunch and mine liked the Raisin Bran and Mini Wheats.
As it turns out, the cabin did not have a kitchenette -- one of my
neuroses was obsessing about that fact. So we put the carton of milk
in a garbage pail and poured ice over the carton. We were quite
proud of ourselves for overcoming this dilemma until the
condensation began pooling on the cabin floor. We did have another
garbage can, though, so we doubled-canned it.
My son happened to mention the possibility of chiggers in the
trees. This was a neurosis my sister obsessed over. She was afraid
she might be allergic to the tiny pests. The cabin was hot at night,
but my sister closed the windows in her room, thinking it would save
her from the chiggers.
There was no consoling her with the fact that there were screens
on the windows and chiggers don't fly, even if they wanted her.
Humans are only accidental targets for chiggers. They'd rather have
a nice juicy bird than my sister.
[to top of second column]
The insensitive side of me wanted to say, "Don't be such a
crybaby." Instead, I laughed at her. OK, so that's insensitive too.
The cabin door hinges never saw a drop of oil in their obviously
lengthy existence, and the potty was located a half-mile away from
the cabin. Therefore, those of us who couldn't hold it any longer
would wake up, tip-toe through the pool of condensation and open the
door, which produced an ear-piercing shriek or groan similar to a
banshee with a case of constipation.
Needless to say, none of us got a full night's sleep, which
didn't help our driving and navigation skills the next day.
I was driving and she was navigating. Or rather, I was trying to
stay on the road, and she was pointing out every available route we
could choose to take, but never really choosing one.
"Stay on the road!" she'd say, in fear for her life and those of
I'd counter with, "Stop showing me the map, pick a route, and
tell me where to go!"
"I'd tell you where to go, all right, if I wasn't a Christian!"
"Jesus would've known which way to go!" I yelled.
"Jesus wouldn't be driving like a maniac!" she yelled back.
When we arrived back home, I was still apologizing for my dubious
driving skills and the fact that we didn't have a refrigerator, and
she began washing every article of clothing we brought, to rid
herself of the imaginary chiggers.
If there were chiggers on the paths we were traversing, they
would have chosen more amiable hosts.
[By LAURA SNYDER]
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist,
author and speaker. You can reach her at
or visit www.lauraonlife.com
for more info.