After 30 years of competing for parental affection and favoritism, the clear winner was my younger sister, April. Why did it become obvious after 30 years? That would have to be the surprise party she received for her 30th birthday.
Let the record show: I did not receive a surprise birthday party when I turned 30 back in 2010. In fact, I had to plan my own 30th birthday bash (and every adult birthday celebration before and since). It was a simple dinner with friends and family at Macado’s. Nothing surprising at all. But let’s not live in the past. At least, not yet. We’ll get back to the past soon enough.
I’m happy to state that April was, in fact, surprised by her 30th birthday party. I got to play an integral role in pulling the wool over her eyes. Mom asked me to call her up to invite her out to dinner for her birthday. I wasn’t sure that April would fall for this bizarre turn of events. After all, I was living in Radford at the time. I rarely drove into Roanoke because gas was expensive. Also, I’m pretty cheap. Also, I’m fairly certain I’ve never offered to take my sister to dinner before. Hey! Hold off on the “you’re a bad brother” accusations there Mr. Judgypants! It’s not that I don’t think she deserves to be treated to dinner by her big brother. It’s just that I’m pretty cheap. And mostly broke.
But she fell for it. No one ever said she was all that bright. This is the girl that I convinced at the age of 8 that funeral homes cut off the legs of the deceased and that’s why you never see the bottom half of the casket open. Wow… maybe I am a bad brother.
So I picked her up that Saturday, the night of her 30th birthday, and fed her the elaborate story about how I needed to stop by my friend Brandon’s old house to pick up something he had supposedly left on his porch for me. Of course, there would be nothing there. As expected, the house was dark and empty. So I called Brandon to “see where he was” so I could meet him and “pick up the alleged item he was supposed to have left for me.” I was pulling this off without a hitch. The point of all this was to get April to the Vinton Masonic Lodge, where her party was being held. But there was no reason for us to pull into that parking lot if I was taking her to dinner. So I lied and created a reason.
She was none the wiser until she recognized a bunch of cars at the lodge. “Something about this isn’t right,” she said as I turned off the car and headed inside. If she had had a few more minutes, I’m sure she would have figured it out. But I decided to deflect her questions by striding toward the door and walking inside. Many of April’s closest friends and family began applauding. I bowed, assuming they were impressed with my sly maneuvering whilst getting my sister to the party. Or they could have been clapping and shouting because the guest of honor had arrived. No, I was not the guest of honor.As I said, this is just the latest bit of proof that April was the favorite. Many years ago, my folks bought a house in southwest Roanoke. They moved us into this ancient house on Denniston Avenue, giving April the largest bedroom in the house. What room did they give me? It was the tiny room that the previous owners had used as a walk-in closet. Yeah.
I’ll admit, the folks eventually made it pretty decent in there. They did this by hooking me up with loft furniture, which allowed me to fit more furniture into a crammed space. But it still wasn’t exactly ideal. See, my tiny walk-in closet of a bedroom had three windows, all with a western exposure. Guess what that meant from about 2pm until long after sundown? That’s right, my room became the hottest room in the house.
Remember, this was an ancient house. We didn’t have the fancy central air that you see in a lot of homes built after the 1930s. No, we made do (or is it made due?) with window units that were strategically placed throughout the house. Knowing I had the hottest room in the house, do you think the folks made it up to me by placing one of these strategic window units in my bedroom? Nope. The reasoning? Because my room was on the front of the house, facing the street. It would look tacky to have an air conditioner hanging out of the window that faced the road.
Oh, but that logic is flawed! 95% of all guests that we invited over to our home came in through the back door, because we parked the cars in the alley behind our house. But that didn’t stop the folks from placing a window unit in the window that sat approximately 4 inches from the porch swing hanging over the back porch.
Eventually, April was moved from the largest bedroom to the other bedroom. Note, the house was officially listed as a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house. But they didn’t move her over there until they gutted the room and completely remodeled it. They enlarged the closet for her. Though I’m not sure they needed to. After all, I was already living in a perfectly good walk-in closet.
And I don’t even want to talk about the time she got a pony just because she asked for one!