Your Sister Can’t Twist (But she can Rock and Roll)


Oh your sister can’t twist but she can rock and roll
Out bucks the broncos in the rodeo-do
She’s only sixteen but it’s plain to see
She can pull the wool over little old me
Your sister can’t twist but she can rock and roll
Your sister can’t twist but she got more soul than me
Your Sister Can’t Twist (But she can rock and roll), lyrics by Bernie Taupin
I was not the only child to suffer under our father’s regime.  There were four of us, and we each suffered in different ways.  My sister was the baby and caught the brunt of our father’s lunacy.   She was the last one at home, and after my mom left him for the last time, she was stuck with him.   He stopped buying food, so she had to buy her own food and hide it or else he would take it from her.
Unlike me, she figured out ways to get around him.   She watched me trying to be good and do all the right things, and yet I got in trouble anyway.  She figured that if she was going to get in trouble for doing bad things, she might as well actually do the bad things.  And she did.  Let’s just say she had a good time in high school.
For example, once when I was in college my parents came down to visit me.  My sister stayed home.  My dad told her not to take the old car because it was not running well.  Of course she took it.  She went to Annapolis to party.  And of course the car broke down on the way home and got towed.
The next day, Sunday, she was frantic to get the car back before our parents came home.   She called the towing company.  It was closed but she got the owner on the phone.  Somehow she convinced him to tow the car back to the house.
He brought the car back and asked her how it was parked in the driveway.  He put it in the same position, she paid him $70 cash, and he left.  As he drove up the road past our house, she saw our parents coming home.  They passed each other going in opposite directions.
My dad tried to start the car later that day and naturally it wouldn’t start.  He didn’t understand why.  My sister kept mum.
I defied my father only once when I was in high school.  I was going to NYC for a yearbook convention with my yearbook class.    The teacher had arranged for us to see two broadway shows:   The original Chicago, with Jerry Orbach and Ann Rankin, and Fiddler on the Roof with Zero Mostel.  But the tickets cost $20 each ($20!) and he said they were too expensive and I could not go to see them.
I wasn’t about to miss seeing Zero Mostel on Broadway,  so I paid for the tickets myself, which by the way, was not allowed.  My dad had this weird way of looking at things.  He said that anything we bought was actually his because if we had not paid for them, he would have.  That’s the reason why he took my sister’s food.  This makes no sense, but we could not argue with him.  If we did, we got slapped in the face for having a “smart mouth.”
I saw both shows—they were great—and never told my dad.  Until, that is, I was in my 30’s.    Even after all those years, he still got angry that I had defied him.   I could tell by the look on his face that he would have slapped me, except my step-mother (his fourth and last wife) was in the room and he didn’t dare show her what a monster he really was.
My sister sowed her wild oats while she was in high school.  I would wait until I was 30 before I would cut loose.  It was a delayed adolescence, but with serious consequences.

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