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number 6

Happy Birthday Sariah
by Marian Rosen

Nothing’s been the same around here since JFK Jr. died. No one around here can fool themselves about God anymore. Mom doesn’t do the laundry, or make dinner, or remind Dad it’s his turn to do the laundry or make dinner. We were gonna go camping this summer, but just last night Dad said, “Why bother?” Sariah’s birthday was the day after the funeral, but none of us could manage to sing her “Happy Birthday.” She didn’t even mind. She hasn’t even opened her presents yet.

I know Mom and Dad got her her own TV for her bedroom, like she’d been asking for for at least 6 months. Now the box is just sitting there unopened, in butterfly wrapping paper and with a big red bow, and it’s so obvious it’s a TV, but she just doesn’t open it. And she can learn to drive now, but she isn’t making any noise about it.

Me, I’ve just been lying in my room, staring at the old Spaghetti-Os stain on my ceiling from when I got mad that time. I don’t even borrow Mom’s hand mirror from her dresser and look at myself to see what I’d look like with a different nose. What good’s a different nose gonna do me? JFK Jr. had a great nose.

Hailey called me and said her mom said that the whole country’s grieving now and we’ll get over it, we always do. But I don’t know how I’m gonna get over knowing what I know now. It’s like the first time I had my period. First it was me telling Mom that Sariah was leaving gross stuff in the bathroom, then it was pictures in that library book, and then it was Hailey giggling, and then it was Donna acting so snotty ‘cause she got hers first, and then I ruined my Spice Girls underpants and it was real.

The only person who’s acting the same is the dog. Except we keep forgetting when it’s his mealtime now, so he barks a little more, but he’s the same. He doesn’t know from JFK Jr. Even when our other dog died, Jojo looked to see if we had Bullet with us when we got out of the car, and then he headed for his food bowl to remind us it was his dinnertime.

Hailey just called and asked if I wanted to go to the pool with them. Mom said to go, it would be good for me, but she looked so sad. I said “Jojo, you wanna go?” and he barked and did his circle dance. Stupid dog. Lucky dog. I told Hailey I don’t feel like going. Hailey said, “Yea, me either.” Her mom’s insisting she go, she said it wouldn’t be good for Hailey to wallow.

Now I have to plan a whole life without God. So the soccer team star thing is probably out. Also dating Leo’s brother.

Jojo just jumped on the bed and I said, God, if you’re there, let Jojo start speaking English but Jojo just drooled on my pillow. Before that’d gross me out, but what does it matter?

I just went downstairs and told Mom I don’t want to go to Sunday School this year. She said, oh but you’re confirmed this year. I shrugged and she said, “I know. Let’s see how we feel about it in the fall.” If this was a TV show, she woulda hugged me then I think, but she just shut her eyes like she was gonna fall asleep at the kitchen counter.
Jojo’s eating a corner of my pillow. I lie down and put my head on the other part of the pillow. What does it matter if I get dog drool in my hair, anyway?

One time we went away to New Hampshire for a week and my cousin who was supposed to feed Jojo and Bullet got chicken pox and no one else came. When we got home all the living room cushions were chewed up and Bullet ran out the door past us and stayed at the tree for half an hour and then wouldn’t stop licking us. Jojo wouldn’t come out from behind the couch for 2 days.

Bullet died a month later. He was only three. The vet couldn’t figure out why.

Marian Rosin is an actress, writer and improviser living in NYC. She is thrilled to be in "Pipe Up" again!

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