I was never alone when I was a little girl. I was never lonely, either, thanks to my best-friend-sister.
I never remember a time before my best-friend-sister, Bonita was part of my life. For sure, there was a time, but I don’t remember it. Deanna came first, then 13 month later me, then another 22 months and Bonita. I doubt Deanna could remember a time without me, but there’s something in the deep part of a first born’s brain that remembers having Mom and Dad all to herself. The rest of us shared right from the start. Maybe that’s why Bonita was my best-friend-sister.
Bonita had long legs and arms. Dad sometimes called her Spider, and I knew why. When she sat on his lap, those legs dangled down from her little body, and her arms wrapped around his neck with lots of extra room to hold onto her pet skunk, that was just a stuffed toy, but Bonita was sure she could love it real, just like that velveteen bunny in the story book. Once Grandpa held Bonita’s skunk and petted it and somehow made the skunk crawl up his arm, making little squeaky noises. He convinced Bonita her skunk was real, which scared Bonita and made her bawl her eyes out and run behind Grandma’s chair. It kinda scared me, too, but I was too big to cry. I never figured out how Grandpa did it, but I knew it was him, ’cause no matter how much you love a stuffed animal, they only become real when you’re not looking. Anyways, I thought it was funny that exactly when Bonita got what she prayed for, she got scared and cried.
Bonita loved Dad more than anything and she wished she could be a boy, as much as she wished her skunk was real. One year she wore long-legged jeans all summer long, no matter how hot it got, ’cause boys never wore shorts. She tried to toughen up, too, and not be a cry-baby. She even asked me to whip her with a willow switch, so she could get tough. Bonita loved all the weird food Dad loved: blue cheese, sardines and that yucky white stuff in the middle of the steak bones Dad spread on bread. She could have that stuff; I think she just pretended ’cause she wanted to be just like Dad.
Bonita and I did everything together. She let me be the boss most of the time, but that’s just because she wanted to do what I liked to do anyways, and she knew I liked to be in charge. We built forts together, and crawled on the ice under the road together, and learned to ride horses together. I was way more interested in science stuff that she was, so I explained a lot of stuff to her. Mostly things she got mad about.
When we got older, we worked at the same restaurant together, and went to the carnival together. She laughed so hard on the Twister-ride that she wet her pants. “Does it show?” she said to me when she got off. Her white waitress dress was all wet and black from rubbing against the seat on the Twister ride. “It’s only a little dirty,” I said, “No one can tell.”
“Are you sure?”
“Sure.” I said, because we were far from the car and there was no point in telling the truth and making her more embarrassed than she already was. Besides, I wanted to go on a few more rides.
One day Bonita called me up and said, “I’m going to be a Grandma. I don’t know how to be a grandmother. I depend on you to do everything first.” That made me laugh out loud; a big belly laugh. I never thought of it that way, because with everything I did, Bonita was right there beside me.
Everybody should have a best-friend-sister in their life. I was lucky, I had one by my side as long as I could remember. Some people get theirs years later, and some after they are adults. If you don’t have one yet, I suggest you try to recruit one. They’re the best.
Happy Birthday, Bonita.