(This is another short excerpt from my new memoir The Queen of Everything, a memoir about being a sister.)
My sisters and I had a favorite game we played at night when we were supposed to be sleeping. For years we all slept in the same bedroom, so we spent hours whispering and laughing and doing elaborate gymnastics or ballet routines or circus acts, leaping from bed to bed, until we got too out of control, and suddenly there would be Dad, looming in the doorway.
“Do I have to get the belt?” he would ask. Fathers back then were supposed to say things like that. What did he think we were going to answer? This usually happened three or four times each night. Heavy footsteps down the hall, same belt question from him, same silence from us. We knew we had him outnumbered and besides, he didn’t really have it in him. Five pairs of his own blue eyes blinking innocently at him, unless some of us goody-goodies were faking that we were asleep.
Denise and I in one bed, Mavis and Theresa in bunk beds, Adele on a small trundle bed, and Patty in a crib in our parents’ room.
It was 1965 and I was thirteen years old and in eighth grade at Bell Junior High School. I was crazy in love with the music of the Beatles, Sonny and Cher, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Monkees. Seventeen magazine was my new bible; five dimes saved up from my carefully hoarded babysitting money, which up until then I had blown mostly on Nancy Drew books and Hershey bars. Colleen Corby, her glossy brunette hair in the perfect flip, was on the cover that August, THE BIGGEST FASHION ISSUE EVER! wearing a totally mod outfit that I was sure no one in boring Golden would ever wear.
As soon as we were old enough, my best friend Jeanette and I planned to get out of Golden and move to New York City or California, or maybe go to Europe on $5.00 a day.
Until I could make my escape though, my sisters and I lay in our beds dreaming out loud and playing a game we called Supermodel Princesses, a game in which we endlessly discussed our future perfect lives. In our whispered fantasies, the deep purple outline of the Rockies visible from the window of our moonlit female den, we took turns as either the future Mrs. Paul McCartney, Princess Grace or her daughter Princess Caroline, Twiggy, Hayley Mills, or Patty Duke. Worst case scenario, one of us would marry one of the Coors brothers, royalty in Golden, and we would bring the other sisters along to live in the Coors mansion.
Oh, how certain we were that our lives would be dazzling.