|Denise and Kris at the Inn at Court Square...Charlottesville...April 2011|
Older siblings take very seriously the protection of the cool, or the passing on of the cool, or the prevention of the crap. My sister didn't really care whether I got caught up with drugs or alcohol or bad men. What worried her more was that it appeared I was heading down the dangerous path of stupid music, stupid books and stupid movies. She made a snob out of me. With my grocery store novels and notorious shape-shifting abilities, I was raising red flags. I became her reluctant Eliza Doolittle, and I'm so glad she schooled me.
Her approach changed over time. At first it was sly...through Christmas gifts. One Christmas I got U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday. This was my first "big girl" album, and it was her first real attempt to make a respectable woman out of me. Home from Christmas break and disturbed that I was still rocking out to the Bay City Rollers on 33s, she simply said, "I love them." Then she got reactionary. After I told her (with enthusiasm) that the woman I was babysitting for had "every Danielle Steele book in the world" and how I was pumped to have total access, I found a used copy of JD Salinger's Nine Stories (click there to read Eudora Welty's 1953 review) on my bed. I could really only get into "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" but I think she felt there was hope for me.
She fought all my other influences. Discovering my obsession with Mommie Dearest on HBO got me a trip all the way to Charlotte to see The Breakfast Club, which was just one of those moments for me -- like 2 of the best hours of my 12 year-old life to that point. I am eternally grateful not to have needed "8 hours and 54 minutes to ponder the error of my ways". My mom liked to play Kenny Rogers on Sunday mornings, and I was watching MTV nonstop, but my sister and brother were both members of the record club, so we had every "good" album out there. Even though my radio station still finds it's way to mainstream pop more than I would like to admit, I can hold my own in a "name that tune" contest on classic rock.
I've really only known her to have two lapses of taste of her own. 1: a nasty little period of contemporary country which scarred me on a trip to California. You listen to "Thunder Rolls" a hundred times and tell me if you don't get pessimistic about love and life. However, it is a ballad and I do love ballads, and so I only hate the repetition, I don't hate the song. Some good things are ruined by popularity...like a couple of my friends from high school. Luckily, she stopped doing that and went back to classic rock, new good folk, and some occasional world music. It would be forgotten for sure if it weren't for my periodic taunting and unwillingness to let her live it down (like right now). 2: she highly recommended Jennifer Aniston's Marley & Me, but I now know that was a good cathartic movie for someone who had just lost a beloved golden retriever and that she was obviously out of her mind with grief.
My sister, Kris, is responsible for turning me onto Joan Armatrading and Paul Simon's Graceland, which I think is the most perfect album ever in the world. It is my deserted island selection. She found out only recently that when I was in college I saw U2 when they were touring Zooropa. Ah, I saw it...a little flicker of pride AND jealousy.
We recently discovered that we both like John Hiatt. I would follow her blindly to the movies or through a bookstore.