The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.
The best part of getting Chinese food is, undoubtedly, the fortune cookie. A little nugget of wisdom to close out your meal -- a mental digestif (not to mention the lottery numbers and the "learn Chinese" word). After a delivery meal from one of our favorite places, Meiwah, Wonderful Husband and I opened our fortune cookies. And mine called me a nut.
I'll admit it, I can be a little nuts from time to time. Who isn't? Once, I refused to go out on a second date with a guy because of the way he drank out of a glass (Of course, I didn't tell him that. That would've just been cruel). Another time, when visiting New York and meeting a friend in front of Radio City Music Hall, I told my cab driver I was auditioning to be a Rockette. It didn't hurt anyone and probably made his day. Besides, he didn't know that I can barely tell my right from my left and am several inches shy of the required height. But perhaps the best evidence of my nuttiness is the time my sister and I, while trapped in my bedroom due to a bat incident (more on that in a minute) made up an older sister with a full personality, job, and boyfriend, who, for the last ten years, has given us Christmas presents that neither of us would ever want.
Here's how it happened. It was a weekday, middle of the summer, 1999. My Little Sister (LS) was home from college and I had just moved back home from New York, and was between jobs. I was sitting in my bedroom watching TV, and LS was in the adjoining room playing on the computer. Earlier that summer, we'd had a bat in the house, but my father had successfully removed it. Anyhow, I happened to look up and see something out of the corner of my eye. Further inspection elicited a shriek and call of, "Bat! It's a BAT!" LS ran in my bedroom, we closed the door, and were effectively trapped in the only bat-free room in the house. No food, only afternoon TV to sustain us. We got bored but quick. It was early afternoon and my father was still at work and my mother was visiting my grandparents two hours away in Rehoboth, so there was nobody to save us.
Since we were trapped, we had to find some way to entertain ourselves. LS said, "What if we had an older sister?" To which I replied, "I bet her name would be Paula." And thus, Paula was born. Over the course of the next few hours, we spun an entire life for Paula. She is a Time Life operator, a youth pastor, wears socks with her sandals (Birkenstocks), and generally looks down upon LS and me. Paula lives in Beltsville and drives a Honda. She's rather religious, but loves science. She wears long skirts (usually floral print) and has a chubby boyfriend. She loves holiday sweaters -- every holiday. In short, our Paula would never have fit in with our family for one minute . . . and yet we decided she was our parents' favorite.
Paula has survived for the past ten years, and despite the fact that we refuse to invite her to birthday and anniversary celebrations with the rest of the family, she always gives us Christmas gifts. One year, I received a crocheted olive green poncho with fringe and size 14 petite jeans with an elastic waistband and pleats. LS once got the Bob Ryan Almanac. Another year, LS got a birthday cake for Jesus, complete with candles, while I got a 15-pound stone angel statute. Without a doubt, Paula's gifts are the worst gifts ever, and we relish them.
I guess my fortune cookie was right . . . I am a nut. And the ground that I have held onto all these years is that of my imaginary sister. And I'm just waiting to become that mighty oak . . . if only I weren't weighed down by this damn stone angel.