Vi Chronicles: My Sister’s Boyfriend

When Vi and Tony moved to Hartford, Connecticut, my sister, Ann Marie, was still in High School. It must have been daunting to move from our small home town to a city and a large, diverse high school.  She approached it with her usual common sense and confidence. In no time she had friends and a social life. Of course, she had a boyfriend, and when I visited for the summer I fell in love with him.

I was only nine going on ten, but I knew quality when I saw it and Ann Marie’s boyfriend was way too good for her. He deserved a girl destined to become a great Indian chief, who could climb a tree, then back flip from a lower limb and stick the landing; a girl with lightning fast reflexes, a strong arm and a noble heart, who dreamed of living on a deserted island or in a tree trunk on the side of a mountain. I pictured us fishing and picking berries, building a raft to sail to a neighboring island where we would barely escape the cannibals by throwing coconuts at them, and of reading by candlelight in our cozy tree trunk while, outside, the snow fell gently on our side of the mountain.

Whenever he visited I watched them from afar and plotted the best way to steal his heart. One afternoon, as they sat on the back stoop of our building, I spied on them from the kitchen where Tony cooked Italian sausages for dinner. He cooked two kinds-sweet and hot. The boyfriend mentioned he didn’t have much of a tolerance for hot foods and we teased him about how hot the hot sausages would be.

I usually preferred sweet sausage but I saw a chance to steal Ann Marie’s boyfriend with my impressive tolerance for peppers and so I chose the hot sausage. I took my plate out to the steps and sat down at his feet. I popped a slice of hot sausage into my mouth, chewed, and waited for the expression of awe and admiration that I knew was coming. As my tongue screamed and my eyes watered, my future boyfriend leaned over and whispered into his current girlfriend’s ear, “Show off”.

I sat on the steps long enough as to not seem obvious in my shame, and then slunk off to join my mother in the living room where she was curled up on the couch smoking Winstons and watching Hollywood Squares, and there I remained all night until I grew bored of game shows, canned laughter and second hand smoke. I wandered off to bed with my stuffed donkey and blanket. I was too old to have a blanket or a stuffed toy, as my siblings often reminded me, but at times, when the whole world seems against you, one needs old and loyal friends.

The boyfriend patted my back and said good night on his way out. I pretended to be asleep. That night, I drifted off devising ways to rid the family of him forever. My sister was way too good for the likes of him.

Chicken out


  14 comments for “Vi Chronicles: My Sister’s Boyfriend

  1. September 26, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    And the world turned on a hot sausage! So sorry for the interior of your mouth, but perhaps you escaped worse.


  2. Doug in Oakland
    September 26, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Was that a reference to Jean George’s “My Side of the Mountain”? That is an incredibly important book..,.


    • September 27, 2018 at 12:45 am

      About the boy who runs away to live on a mountain? Yes. It was one of my favorite books as a kid. Along with Robinson Crusoe, the other reference. Anyone seeing a theme here, haha. I know it is a good book…why is it an important book?


      • Doug in Oakland
        September 27, 2018 at 2:49 am

        It’s important because it celebrates self reliance and the way people fit into the natural world in a way that kids will open up to.
        My friend Jack once told me that he can tell within an hour of meeting someone whether or not they read that book as a child. I never saw him demonstrate that ability, but I never saw him get the call wrong about folks we already knew either.
        My third grade teacher read it to the class, and I liked it so much that I bought it from the Weekly Reader Book Club or whatever they called it when they had kids order books from a list they put out a few times a year, and it’s possible that I still have it.


      • September 27, 2018 at 11:02 am

        I wonder how he can tell? It really was a great book for a introverted adventurer like me. I loved the idea of relying on myself, making a home of my own, finding my own food, befriending animals, etc. Robinson Crusoe was similar although he was grown up. And I forgot about Little Princess. She went from a pampered world, to a world of self-reliance,and back to a pampered world. Her mettle was tested and she flourished. I loved those book club books, too. They put them out far more often nowadays-I feel like once a week we would get them every week but it was probably once a month.


  3. jenny_o
    September 26, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    A little nostalgia, a little humour, and a genius final line . . . I so enjoyed this, Chicken. A wonderful piece.

    It’s so nice to be reading your posts again. I hope all’s well at the Chicken household.


    • September 27, 2018 at 12:46 am

      Thank you, PD. Yes, all is well. Still working a lot but felt like I have been away too long and was missing out!


  4. September 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I enjoyed that a deal more than you relished that sausage 🙂


    • September 27, 2018 at 11:06 am

      Hi Lisa, I’m glad to hear that:-) Once, a young man that worked with my ex-husband came to help us move and so I made dinner. I made this gorgeous pasta dish that has a base of hot ground sausage. It was one of our favorites-just enough sausage to give the dish some heat. He had stomach issues, however. That poor guy. It was years and years ago and I still remember him trying to be polite at the dinner table.


  5. September 27, 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Ha ha ha! The ending was funny!


    • September 28, 2018 at 2:12 am

      Thanks SAW. I’ve been catching up on your blog. I’m sorry I haven’t been around. You’ve been going through so much. I’ve never met you in person but I have always thought, from your writing, that you must be a very strong person. You live life to the fullest, whether it’s a honeymoon in Europe, a weekend jaunt, a family affair, or an adventure in consumer abstinence….you embrace it all. It’s admirable. It doesn’t stop anything from sucking. I’m sorry. I’m glad you are writing about it-I hope it helps.


  6. September 29, 2018 at 6:07 am

    Mio caro Consigliere, that is an amazingly moving post! I read it aloud to Norma and she smiled that smile that remembers how one felt at age 9. She didn’t elaborate much but said you nailed it. My compliments and appreciation. It’s stories and writing skills like yours that help people understand themselves –and help them through hard summers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 4, 2018 at 1:11 am

      Thank you, Geo-that’s high praise from you and Norma. Please tell her hello and thanks. The older I get, the more I remember my childhood. It’s so weird. I don’t remember how I got to work yesterday but I remember whole conversations about barbies and baseball. I am sorry that your summer has been so difficult. Again, weird, but I think of you every day, you charming writer/Gardner/philosopher, on the other side of the country whom I’ve never met. And I think all good thoughts because I know that is what you will want.


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