Silly is you in a natural state, and serious is something you have to do until you can get silly again.
-- Mike Myers
"Don't do it," I warned. "Don't do what ?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Jen. I'm asking -- no, I'm telling you, don't even think about it." I rested two of my fingers on my sister's cheek to steady my hand and, in small, careful strokes, I applied a shimmery copper liquid liner to her closed eyes.
"It's so hard," she whispered into my left hand, which was cupping her chin to keep her head still.
"Don't you dare ," I said, aware of how much like my mother I sounded. Jenny behaved for as long as it took to finish her eyes. I rummaged through my makeup bag and retrieved a natural-toned lip liner. Again I held her chin with my left hand. Before I had time to react, Jenny gave in to her overwhelming impulse and her tongue darted out of her mouth and touched my hand.
"EEWWW!" I wiped my licked patch of skin furiously against my pants. "God, I hate it when you do that! Why do you always have to do that?!" Ever since I first did her makeup ten years ago, Jenny has been unable to repress her urge to lick whichever part of my hand comes within her tongue's reach. I leaned in to finish the job. "I swear to God, if you lick me one more time I'm going to slap you, I won't be able to stop myself." Jenny giggled through closed lips. "You little freak," I muttered, before giving in to my own fit of giggles. "Here, go put this on your lips and then we should get going." I handed her a translucent gloss from my Juicy Tubes collection.
Jenny returned to my office and, as she stood in the doorway, I took a moment to appreciate how beautiful she looked. Her blonde hair was clipped up and out of her face and the dark olive shirt she wore brought out the rich green in her eyes. I'd always thought of my sister as a little girl, but standing before me was a striking 26-year-old woman.
"I wasn't thinking we'd leave until ten or so," said Jenny. It was 7:30.
"If I don't get out of the house soon, it will be impossible for me to motivate," I said. Steve, one of Jenny's classmates at Platt College, works at the Blarney Stone in Clairemont. A week before, at Steve's invitation, Jenny went there with our father. She had a great time, so when I agreed to leave David at home on a Friday night and spend the evening with my sister, the Blarney Stone was the obvious choice (especially when compared with our other options in the Gaslamp).
We arrived at the Irish pub, tucked neatly at one end of a strip mall. I was introduced to Steve, who was guarding the door. Jenny ordered some kind of beer on draft, I got a glass of the house cabernet, and we staked out a spot in the corner farthest from the entrance.
Sharing the space with our drinks atop the dark wooden cabinet set against the wall was a series of tall golden soccer trophies. Jenny pointed out that Steve had changed posts -- he was now guarding the back door, where we could keep him in our sights.
"I'm gonna flip him off," she said.
"No, let me, it'll be funnier because he doesn't know me," I suggested.
We made subtle attempts to attract Steve's attention by wiggling our eyebrows and lifting our chins. When that didn't work, we began gesticulating wildly, waving away any confused people who mistook our gestures as an invitation to join us. Finally, Steve looked over at us. I caught his eye, held it, and made a show of slowly lifting my middle finger at him. When he responded with the expected look of shock, Jenny and I burst out laughing. But then Steve's lips curled upward in a sinister smile and he caught the arm of an older gentleman. They shared a few words and Steve pointed in our direction. Jenny's laughter stopped abruptly and she yelled, "Oh no!" and ran over to Steve as the older man walked away.
"This is bad, this is really bad," Jenny said when she returned to my side.
"What's the problem?" I asked.
"That's the singer Steve was just talking to. Tony Cummins!"
"So? So! So he makes fun of people when he sings, and now Steve has singled us out. It's all my fault. I never should have suggested flipping him off."
"Jen, I still don't understand what the big deal is. It's not like we can't handle a little public razzing."
Jenny's eyes were wide with fear. "He'll command you to 'Drink, shake your ass, put your glass on your head!'"
"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do," I said in a soothing voice.
"NO! You don't get it! If he says 'Drink,' you drink your drink . If he says 'Shake your ass,' you shake your ass . You have to!" She was hysterical but I was convinced we could somehow weasel out of audience participation.
"I know! Don't have a drink. Problem solved."
"You have to have a drink," whined Jenny.
Startling us, Tony the Irish folk singer popped his head between ours and said, in a lyrical Irish brogue, "I hope you girls are drinking tonight!"
"Shit shit shit!" cried Jenny. A moment later, a sly smile replaced what had been her panic-stricken face. "Don't let the waitress take away this glass," she said in a determined tone of voice, before leaving me in the corner. In a few minutes, she returned with a full glass of beer. I watched as she carefully poured a few sips worth of beer into her first glass. "This will be our chug glass," Jenny said proudly.
Even though we were now prepared for the worst (thanks to my sister's cunning plan), we did not want to be targeted and pressured to "chug" and put an upside-down glass on our heads. What would everyone think if they turned our way to find a half-Irish lass like myself sipping on red wine instead of gulping a Guinness? As if highlighting our silent worries, Steve directed his flashlight at us, a warning of the teasing spotlight we were silently dreading.
When Tony stepped behind the microphone a hush fell over the crowd in the Blarney Stone, which was now packed. He did not sing alone -- the three guys standing next to Jenny and me were obviously regulars, and belted out each word with no small amount of emotion.
"Dad sang along with this one too," Jenny informed me. At the end of the song, Tony pointed out his first victim. He sang his taunts and the crowd chanted along, "Drink, drink, drink! Now put it on your head! Now go to the bar and get another!" How can one say no to a room full of people bellowing the same command? We shrank behind a tall, horse-faced woman and her posse.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" I said, swallowing the rest of my wine.
"Yeah, let's get out of here," said Jenny. We sidestepped a few Marines, some old barflies, and several happy beer drinkers and made our way to the back door, where Steve was standing guard.
"Leaving already?" asked Steve, looking disappointed the way a cat seems bummed when the entertaining mouse finally dies.
"Yeah. I wish I could stay and, you know, chug beer, but it's past my bedtime," I said.
"Remember the old days?" Jenny asked me, reflecting upon all the nights I refused to hang up the party towel.
"You mean when I used to keep cocaine in my bra and offer people 'pep talks' in the bathroom? Yes, I do. But now I'm going through a 'sleep is really cool' phase, and it's, like, after 10." Jenny laughed and we left the bar, relieved to have escaped the horror of being forced to have "fun."
"I have an idea for our next sisters' night out," I said to Jenny on the way back to Hillcrest.
"Like Nunu's or something?"
"Not exactly. I thought we'd head over to Wine Steals, where we can taste a flight of Pinot Noir while we nibble on some cheese. I hear they have a new sommelier who encourages members of the crowd to 'Swish, swirl, and sip!' and sashay around the bar with a bottle on their head."