"I programmed the universe with a used tube sock!?!"
Ehhhh, She used to say shit like this alllll the time. As a child I would react with a chuckle and a genuinely curious smile but over the years it just became more of me yelling. Things like "What the fuck Ellie?, What the shit fuck hell are you talking about? The Lord made you crazy and you keep trying to get crazier, you are literally bat shit fucking nuts."
Now I know this sounds hurtful but what do you say to a woman, yes a grown woman, who greets your friends with "I shit my tights, think about it, I literally shit my sexy black tights last night." Damn't her tights aren't even sexy, they are old and ratty, washed once every three months, and purchased twelve years ago, and fuck she's basically a slightly overweight woman wearing tights made for a large child. She was literally delusional and had that look in her eyes. You know the one or maybe you don't; like "Who's the Boss" is playing at the back of your skull on repeat, she would look right through you always chuckling at something Tony Danza was doing on your cranium screen. "How does he do it?" she would giggle. “Who damn't Ellie, damn it all to hell, how the hell does who do what?”
I used to shake her when she was little, thinking this would correct her, quite like an Etch a Sketch. No amount of knob turning ever seemed to reconstruct a functioning human being though. Mom and Dad used to quarrel on long car rides about the Sweeney's little ADHD nightmare next door. They would try to diagnose that child with some sort of life threatening social disease ignoring their own little mistakes in the back seat. This was the 60's though, poorly behaved kids were likened to devil spawn more then they were to minor genetic problems. Ellie would scream "Nipple Pie," "or "Pizza Worm," out the window, and we would think, geez how absurdly cute this odd little child is. Inappropriate things at inappropriate times that's what my sister was famous for, and it was adorable, it was her way of rebelling, it was "oh she doesn't even know what she's saying she’s so fucking rip-her-face-off cute.”
But as she matured her thoughts and behavior did not. "How adorable," soon turned into "Why God, why did you give us this little retard?" (it was the 60's, retards were still retards for the general public). That's when the excursions began. First there were trips to church, hours in confessional, "do you think an exorcism would work?" mom would continually ask. There was more shaking, this problem was going to be corrected quite the same way I would fix the tube as a child, hit it till the signal kicks back in. Ellie, smash, channel 3 please, kick, Howdy Doody is on, bang, what is wrong with you?
The priests would tell us she was a very "disturbed young woman," and mom would shake her head eating their bull shit "oh yes yes yes I know, she's been this way since she could speak." Next came the monthly trips to the doctors; Ellie's been eating crayons, she screams obscenity's at the Officer club dinners, she won't keep her clothes on at school, I'm going through 2 boxes of crayola a week is this normal? The doctor's would say in that wise old owl voice "Well she is a perfectly healthy young woman, this is just a stage." Well guess what? She grew into it ok, "Nipple Pie" and "Pizza Worm," turned into the rants of a boozy young teen. She would lie and disappear for days; we would worry since her mental capacity had stalled at the age of ten like a 1973 Volvo wagon (the kind commonly used to transport blow to the masses). I would still shake her every now and again to see if maybe just the right amount of contact would force a synapse into firing correctly. The shaking only seemed to entertain her though.
As she got older she would yell "I have hair on the field! Play ball!" or "I'm ovulating!" and Mom and Dad would leave her home staring at the "popcorn ceiling" or the "drippy drip machine" when we went for dinner, or to family reunions, or to gatherings of any sort. Ellie was always “out with her friends,” or “in a study group,” when people would ask; she was never snacking on burnt sienna or drinking a milkshake of forest green and hummus whilst locked in the pantry humming “Just the Two of Us” and dropping raw eggs on her toes.
Finally when I came back from college to try and figure out my life, my parents were starting to figure out theirs as well. They tearfully (gleefully and relieved-fully) revealed “We just can’t handle her anymore, spend some time with your sister, she loves you, you have a connection.” Why mom and dad? A connection? Because I don’t resent her, because when I realized shaking her solved nothing, I decided to try loving her unconditionally, because she is the burden I was born into? And ultimately they would shell out the convenient cash to get us both an apartment, a nice two bedroom in the trendy part of downtown Charleston. Two windows overlooking Main Street where Ellie was free to shout her stunning revelations and embarrassing accusations to potential friends and lovers as they approached our quaint “mind fuck” of a home.
Well that is where we have lived for the past five years, learning to accept one another and find a way to live without one of us ending up bloody in the floorboards. I even stop once in a while to watch “Who’s the Boss” with Ellie in the back of my friend Christian’s skull, when we can get him to stare at us long enough (I think I’m starting to see something). And you know screaming “Nipple Pie!” At strangers from the second floor can be more therapeutic than you would guess. In turn she has cut down on her crayon consumption and has learned how to dress and speak semi-appropriately for her age. The one thing that still gets me and it’s a doozy, is on Sunday afternoons when she sits out on our porch in the rocking chair with a pair of old black panties, and just that, as the setting sun shines down on her obvious and bare breasts. She sticks her belly out and sits like a 50 yr. old man at a strip club, legs spread displaying masses of the unimaginable and she ecstatically screams at the world “I live with a Pedophile, I’m 10 years old and my brothers a pedophile!” And I run to my room, lock the door, and shake my head quite like an Etch a Sketch, hoping I’ll wake up and this won’t be my reality. . . . . .
. . . . . then one night far down the road in December of 2012, when we were both in our early sixties, long after our parents were gone, and long after I had been married and we had moved to the shore, long after Ellie had accepted her life living with me and my new family, and long after my divorce and my kids had grown up and left; she ran into my room with a tube sock... she told me to put it on and hold her tight... I humored her as I always had.... and well to my shock or perhaps to my lack of shock after knowing Ellie all these years, the world ended, it just froze and imploded and we were teleported to a pueblo, a warm cozy home on a planet not too far from earth... SHE HAD PROGRAMMED THE UNIVERSE THROUGH A TUBESOCK! And apparently I was the only one that was worth saving. . .