Larry and the Nose Holes


‘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:

Clinging to my prize, flanked by two out of three eventual bros

Clinging to my prize, flanked by two out of three eventual brothers

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:

What's not to like? Photo by Genius Photographer Bro, Scott

What’s not to like? Photo by Genius Photographer Brother Scott

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:

Laura and Dad demonstrate an innate Henry talent

Laura and Dad demonstrate a uniquely amazing nose-related Henry talent



New York City. December 2014

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

26 thoughts on “Larry and the Nose Holes

  1. I always wanted a sibling when I was younger, but I think I had an idea that it would be sort of like having a talking pet with a cute wardrobe. As I got older and listened to my friends complain about their younger siblings I changed my tune.

    Still wouldn’t have minded having an extra closet to borrow from, though.

    • Ah! The ole ‘extra closet to borrow from’! Alas, my sis and I were so far apart in age that none of that was actually practical. The Child tried it on, as it were, when she was in high school. But I nipped that idea in the bud. Saw her on FB, in fact, dressed in my choicest stuff. Busted!

  2. Unbound Roots

    I always wanted a sister too, but I never got one. I had two younger brothers. So, thank you for sharing your sisterly tale. I have to live vicariously through others. 🙂 Oh, and you were a great big sister to have your little sister stay with you at college!

    • Hey thanks! I do adore my sister — maybe because she’s the only one I’ve got! I do have three-count-em-three fabulous brothers too. It was fun growing up in a big family.

  3. josypheen

    Those Laura photos are awesome! I hope she sees, and loves this post too!

    You were such a cool big sister. I don’t think my eldest sister would have allowed me to come and stay with her at college! Laura is a cool little sister too though – helping you kick poor Larry to the curb.

    One of my big sisters let me “come and live with her” for a bit when I was 19 and saving to move to Japan. I actually lived with my boyfriend in the same town, but mum thought I was at my sisters, so it worked well! 😉

  4. Enjoyed this immensely, Alice. My little sister was born when I was 12 and I basically took over since there were six of us by that time. Alas, the years between us were too much, our experiences too different. But my second oldest sister is coming in April and we intend to have a blast. I think my husband will have to find temporary shelter elsewhere.

  5. “Well, so much for Larry.”

    How many big sisters out there do this?  It must be a small stat…

    I enjoyed every bit of this. And I agree, he does look a bit like James Taylor.

    • Yup. So much for Larry! Thank you for the compliment. Yes, we Big Sisters get pretty attached to the Babies. Oddly enough, my hub (known as The Dude for blogging purposes) looks even more like Mr. Taylor. Coincidence? Hmmmm…

  6. Scott

    Regarding the final photo in this post, I just now showed Susan how simple it is to hang flatware from your beak (at least if you are a Henry). The tradition continues.

  7. What you’re saying is completely true. I know that everybody must say the same thing, but I just think that you put it in a way that everyone can understand. I’m sure you’ll reach so many people with what you’ve got to say.

    • Thanks, Ruth! Did you notice that another commenter (Suzy) had the same thing happen to her, only backwards? She was the ‘little sister’ who went to stay in her ‘big sister’s’ dorm room! Hard to believe that this could happen, and happen twice. Though I’m sure it wouldn’t (or couldn’t) happen now.

  8. suzy

    I can truly relate to this one…my older sister “Tiny” was 10 when I was born and with 7 kids; my mom basically handed me to her. So when I was 7, Tiny went to college…..At 7 I came home from school and Tiny was “gone”. Where to I ask? “College”. Whats “collage” and when is she coming back? Its in Madison and she will be back for Thanksgiving. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. I went into major funk….actually ran away….got on a bus to Madison….all by myself…..can you imagine at 7!!! So I stayed in the dorm with Tiny and her room mate Arliss. Chadburn Hall.

    • Wow! I find it wonderful (and truly validating) to find that this happened to someone else, too. Not only that, but to someone else who is a friend — and lives in the same building! The world is indeed an amazing place, and the Sisterhood Bond is even more amazing. Thank you, Suzy!

    • If I were musical, I would steal that band name, Don! Reminds me of when my brother Scott and his buds were trying to come up with a name for their band, which practiced in his garage. The guy next door, enraged by the noise, came over during one of their sessions, pounded on his door, and shouted ‘You’re a bad neighbor, man!’ To which my brother replied ‘Gee, thanks! You just named our band!’ They’ve been Bad Neighbor to this day; you can catch their gigs at bars in the Petaluma area.

  9. Oh I love every word of this, Alice.

    The Midwest, Neil D., dorms & curfews & dress codes…& SISTERS!

    Happily, I get back to UW MADISON (my alma mater) twice/year to do some teaching.

    While there my mind is just packed with memories & insights.

    Each time I go I get to stay with my big sister — in her condo, not her dorm –& we always have a blast together.

    Thanks for your wonderful blog, it is such a flinty spark plug for me!

    Keep writing, girl! Xx

    • Thank you ever so, Teresa! For commenting, for reading, and for enjoying my pieces. I’m so glad I could trigger some great memories. That’s one of my ‘missions’. To spark memories — as well as cause milk to snort out noses.

I'd love to hear from you