Heartfelt Sibling Mementos!

Mojo's unhealthy tendency to tweak authority (a tendency shared with her siblings, despite their protests of innocence--don't believe them for a second!) probably stems from her father. Woe to the child who had to sit next to Dad in church! Dad was full of helpful pointers to get us through the service. "Look reverent," he would whisper if he caught us fidgeting. "Like this—" whereupon he would assume the pose of a thousand oil paintings of Jesus praying in Gethsemane—upraised eyes, serene loving expression, the whole nine yards.

Which, of course, when you are ten years old and supposed to be behaving, is guaranteed to throw you into hysterics. We'd start snickering. Mom would get mortified, and no matter how many times we tried to explain in stage whispers that Dad was making us laugh she wouldn't believe us. (To this DAY I don't think she believes us!) Dad has this absolutely perfect deadpan he employs on just such occasions. "What?" he would mouth to our mother, all innocent-like. So Mom yelled at us, we would be chastened, try to behave, and then during the next hymn Dad would wait until Mom was looking the other way and hiss "rotten snitch!" in our ear. Which of course would just set us off again.

So we kids developed the unfortunate habit of whispering inappropriate things to one another in places that usually require more decorous behavior. This is perhaps most evident in art museums, where, at some point in the exhibit, one of us will turn to the other and whisper, "I dare you to touch it." And while the other person laughs the originator goads them on: "Quick! No one's looking! I DARE you! I'll give you a dollar!" Or five dollars, or sometimes—if the suggested activity might actually threaten their life, like jump into a zoo enclosure with a wild animal—we'll bump it up to ten.

Let me state very clearly for all those art museum people now having coronaries: WE DON'T ACTUALLY TOUCH THE ARTWORK. We UNDERSTAND the oil on human hands is DETRIMENTAL to archival materials. It's just something we SAY privately to each other to be FUNNY and INAPPROPRIATE. I don't know WHY we still think it's funny, 'cuz we say it all the time, and you would think after thirty years a joke like that would get pretty tiresome. But it still makes simple-minded chuckleheads like us laugh—except for one time at a Monet exhibit when we figured if so much as a random FLY landed on a picture frame there would be sirens and doors slamming shut and police dogs and clouds of mace. Then we both laughed in a frightened sort of way and immediately changed the subject lest just TALKING about it got us into trouble. (Because blustery as we may sound, it's all talk. We'd never actually DO anything.)

Anyway, one time my Favorite Older Sister and I had to attend a professional multi-day conference in NYC at the Roosevelt Hotel which required us to BEHAVE for THREE DAYS STRAIGHT. It was very hard, to say the least. The conference got over at noon on the last day. After debating where to have lunch before going back to Grand Central we decided what the hey, we'll just have lunch right there at the Roosevelt. It was a very nice classy-type restaurant, but we were still on our best behavior and got seated and orders taken and cloth napkins in our laps and everything was going so well you just know it’s not going to last. The bread came with a whole stack of foil-wrapped butter pats and I launched into my usual diatribe against trendy diets and why-can't-people-just-eat-less-exercise-more and I LIKE butter and there's nothing evil about any food in moderation and blah blah blah. Which just goes to show you what a scintillating time you're in for should you ever have the misfortune of dining with me.

My Favorite Older Sister then sez, "I'll give you a dollar if you eat a pat of butter." And she pulls out a dollar and plunks it on the table.

Talk about putting your money where your mouth is. Okay, I sez, you've got a deal. After all, those little foil butter pats aren't that big. How hard can it possibly be to eat one?

I have lived to report it is much harder than you might think. Especially when your Favorite Older Sister is making you laugh and you start choking. Essentially your entire mouth gets a thick coating of butter all over that takes forever to get rid of. The whole time my Favorite Older Sister is busting a gut laughing. Ultimately I did it, but I dare say it was unpleasant enough that I don't think I'll do it again. Not for a dollar, anyway. Maybe for five.

My Favorite Older Sister agreed it was the very best dollar she ever spent for sheer entertainment value. I must say I have made easier money, but giving such joy to your siblings is priceless.

So I was cleaning house the other day, and what did I find? That very same dollar bill, which my Favorite Older Sister signed in commemoration of that glorious afternoon at the Roosevelt. A very dusty dollar bill. I phoned her and said, "Hey, I'm going to put the Butter Pat Memorial Dollar up on eBay as part of the Craptacular." She could not imagine a more appropriate ending for such a memento.

So now you have the chance to own "the very best dollar ever spent for sheer entertainment value". Yes, the actual Butter Pat Memorial Dollar, complete with my Favorite Older Sister's loving note on that fateful day, scribbled right on the dollar. All in a cheesy frame. To sweeten the pot, I will include a birthday candle I have kept for about fifteen or twenty years that my Favorite Brother put on my birthday cake. It is a wax clown meant for children, but as you can see my Favorite Brother cleverly removed the little cardboard insert that probably said "Happy Birthday!" and instead replaced it with a quote from Lewis Carroll. At least I think it's Lewis Carroll. Which just goes to show you: class, brains and snobby intellectual literary references runs in this family.

Plus an unframed Certificate of Craptacularity, which in this case will have to double as a certificate of authenticity. It's the real Butter Pat Memorial Dollar, people. Honest. And the clown candle. Who could resist such an opportunity? And even if you don't win the auction, you are now armed with the priceless information that eating a pat of butter is far less pleasant than one might imagine. Go forth and spread the word!