When I was in college, one Sunday afternoon Dad and our stepmother Beatrice had left for the evening to see a movie and have a nice dinner out after the movie. This left my brother Kevin and my sister Sissy to their own devices. Kevin was about 14 years old at the time, and Sissy was 17.
When Dad and Beatrice arrived home from their lovely evening out, my brother met them at the door and asked to speak with Dad privately. When he and Dad were alone, Kevin very seriously said:
Don’t tell Mom, but I think Sissy’s dead.
My dad had been around teenagers for quite a few years, and he had a pretty good idea of what might be wrong. But being both a lawyer and a great joker, he persisted in asking Kevin a few more questions.
Why do you think she’s dead?
Dad asked in the gravest, most serious possible tone.
Well, she’s out in her car and she’s not moving. I tried to wake her up, but I can’t.
In another grave tone of voice, Dad told Kevin to follow him out to car. When they opened the door, the odor of alcohol almost knocked them down. The lovely smell of a consumed fifth of whiskey, specifically. Sissy was passed out, drunk as a skunk (and smelling worse than one), and way past three sheets to the wind.
Please help me take her into the house.
my dad requested of Kevin.
Dad took her two arms and Kevin took her two feet and they carried her into the front room. My sister was so passed out that she was dead weight (dead drunk weight, that is) as they carried her. But Dad and Kevin got her in and my dad, who was very kind, put a cold cloth on her head. Not so much my stepmother Beatrice, who was walking by Sissy and kicking her each time she passed by. As always, Beatrice made the situation all about herself.
People in the neighborhood will think that it’s me who was drunk.
Beatrice wailed to my dad.
In fact she was right to be concerned. The very next day an old lady from across the street called Beatrice and said:
I thought maybe you weren’t feeling well. I saw your husband helping you into the house.
Beatrice was furious, but the damage was done.
Of course, since our family is Far From Normal, there was no discussion of the effects of too much alcohol consumption. We were not reminded that we all may have a gene for alcoholism. In my case, Uncle/Stepdad Kenny was Exhibit A (where the “A” is for “Alcoholism”) and Mother suffered from multiple addictions (thus our nickname “Mommy Drunkest”). In Sissy and Kevin’s case, their biological father was infamous for being the town drunk (and a very mean one at that).
No, like many incidents in our lives, this was viewed as a funny story and nothing more. In fact, it was a pretty funny story and became one of many tales in the arsenal of evidence that as far as anyone knows, we are a normal family. Sissy remembered little of the incident (obviously), though she had a vague recollection of someone repeatedly kicking her. Good times.