‘A college boy learns his lesson’
I must have 8-year-olds on the brain. Last week, I wrote about how The Child learned about the Birds and the Bees. Now I’m going to tell you about the time my Favorite Sister went to college — when she was only in Third Grade.
See, I love my brothers. All three of them. But, as the Oldest of the Henry Clan, and the Only Girl for ages and ages, I really wanted a little sister. And, when I finally got one — when I was nine, for heavens’ sakes — I wanted her around me pretty much all the time. I even had my parents put her crib in my room. (Which I imagine didn’t take too much arm-twisting. Before that, the crib was in their room.) Anyway, here she is, in all her infant glory:
We’ll jump ahead for the purposes of this story. To when I left home to go to college. University of Missouri, that was. So I could go to Journalism School and become Brenda Starr. If you (undoubtedly) have no idea who that was, click here to find out. But first, here’s an adorable photo of Laura taken when she was (probably?) about five. It has absolutely nothing to do with this post. It’s just too cute not to include, and it’s my story, so what the heck:
Back to me going to college. Since I was the first one to leave the nest, my parents drove me. (My mother told me that some of the younger kids, including Laura, had to ‘get a ride’ because they were ‘too busy’ to take them. And exactly zero of my siblings turned into Ax Murderers or Drug Addicts. Take that, Helicopter Parents!)
So. My parents delivered me to campus and left me to settle in to Schurz Hall. (erg, the names of the buildings at U of Mo! There was actually a classroom building called ‘GCB’, which stood for ‘General Classroom Building’) But, bad naming aside, I was one of those kids who loved college. Homesick? Hah. I was disappointed when I learned I’d have to leave campus at Thanksgiving. And I love Thanksgiving. (For how I felt when it was my turn, and The Child went off to college, check out ‘Gone Baby Gone’. But not just yet.)
Anyway. Little did I know, while I was meeting boys and going to class and meeting boys and going to football games and meeting boys and going to parties (Actual conversation with Schurz Hall denizen: Me: ‘How was the Keg Party?’ She: ‘It was really fun. But they didn’t have any cake!’). Well, while I was having all this fun, my adored Little Sister was pining.
Yes, she was so attached to me that she actually pined. She was like some sort of little Victorian heroine, alone in our previously-shared room — not sleeping, not eating, not enjoying Third Grade. Which had my parents understandably alarmed. Alarmed enough to take her out of school and send her to college to stay with me.
Yes, people. My Third-Grade Sister came to the University of Missouri and stayed in my half of my dorm room (the other half being occupied by Roxanne, the subject of a rather hilarious story you can read here.) These rooms were tiny. And I had a twin bed. But then, she was only eight, and not very big.
So. Two weeks pass. Two weeks in which Laura went everywhere with me: to meals, to classes, and even on dates. Speaking of which, she loved sitting in the dorm-room window watching girls kiss their dates goodnight at curfew. (Yes, we had a curfew. The year before I went there, U of Mo also had a Dress Code. Deal-breaker.)
Dates! Yes, that’s the point of this tale. (Wondering when I’d get to it, I bet.) I was dating this boy named Larry. Who was from a small town too, but in Missouri, not Illinois. So I thought he was pretty exotic. (That’s Larry and his cool Ford Galaxy in the featured picture. The shot with me wearing a rather unfortunate plaid jumper.)
Larry was a nice guy. But he didn’t have any little sisters. Or brothers either, I don’t think. (It’s all a hazy memory now. Except I do remember we used to shoot cans off fences — with guns! And ride around in the Galaxy listening to Neil Diamond when Neil Diamond was not retro-popular, just popular-popular.)
Larry and I weren’t ‘serious’ about each other, but he liked me enough to want to impress my little sister, who, to be perfectly honest, would rather have had me all to herself. So, while traipsing around campus one Fine Fall Day, Larry points up to the clouds and says:
Larry (using that Tone that Certain People use with Young Children): ‘Look at that cloud up there. It looks like a Doggie!’
Laura: (Stony silence)
Larry (using the Same Tone, but with an even-more-annoying desperate urgency): ‘See? There’s his tail…and his ears…and his nose holes…!’
Laura (frustration-at-being-condescended-to boiling over): ‘Nose holes! Nose holes?!? They’re called nostrils!’
Well, so much for Larry.
But back to Laura. It’s her birthday tomorrow. It’s been a while since she was eight. And a long time since she pined. But we still like each other a lot, and she still does not suffer fools gladly. Since it’s Christmas Time, I’m leaving you with this helpful thought: don’t even think of giving her One Big Present for Her Birthday AND for Christmas.
I’m also leaving you with this great shot (also taken by Genius Photographer Brother Scott) that proves that Laura — and my Dad — knew a thing or two about noses, ‘nostrils’ and all:
New York City. December 2014