That’s why I refused to smile.
Rest assured, my faithfuls, that my hair had been hanging in glossy golden ringlets just minutes before this photo was snapped and then, in a last minute effort at Trying To Make The Middle Daughter Pretty, my mother whipped a brush out of her purse and “smoothed” down my hair.
Smoothed? More like straightened! I took one glance downward and saw that, with the flick of Mom’s cheerful wrist, Goldilocks had become the Little Match Girl. And I was mad. So I got my revenge by flashing a smirk that was 1/4 smile, 3/4 frown. That’d show ‘em.
Everybody else, of course, smiled hugely. And why not? Their beauty hadn’t been trampled on. Julie’s skin-tight French braids were slick enough to give her the appearance of a Peggy Fleming wedge (lucky!), and Doug’s Brady Brunch mop was nicely holding its own. My mom, smiling and oblivious to the wound she’d just inflicted, boasted an Ogilvie home perm that was apparently hand-crafted to mimic the natural line of her
favorite child’s son’s own tresses. My dad, as usual, seemed perfectly content with his humble head of hair. (He used to ask his teenage daughters, in all earnestness, why they didn’t just cut their hair short—like his–to spare themselves so many bathroom fights in the morning. He couldn’t understand why we’d ignore such a simple solution.)
And then, of course, there was Jaimy.
Ooh, Jaimy! The dimpled, smirking, blue-eyed bane to my fourth-grade existence. The darling little sister who’s genetic code was surely but one chromosome apart from my own, so that we were almost exactly alike, except: we hated each other. (Don’t feel too bad for us. It was kind of fun.)* And of course it was this same Jaimy who, decades later, thought that this disaster of 1982 should be resurrected in 2013 on a newfangled thingymajig called Facebook. (And all these years, I’d been certain this picture would stay between me and the Sears Portrait Studio. Life should be so kind.)
And so, my friends, though at first glance this may look like a happy, healthy family enjoying the Reaganomic boom of yesteryear, do not be deceived. There was trouble in paradise and, as usual, it had all settled on me.
*Jaimy and I no longer hate each other.**