Whenever I take a trip back to Wisconsin, we Wienkers always make sure to find the time to sit down together and at least skim through a few of the more hilarious home movies in our family archives. One of our collective favorites features a particularly prophetic scene the night my younger sister, Mary, turned four:
“Geez, you guys don’t give me nearly this much for my birthday,” I lamented as she began to tear through a heaping pile of presents.
“Mmmhmm. You get nothing,” my mom replied, revealing the origin of both my sarcastic disposition and penchant for onomatopoeia.
“What movie is it? ‘Barbie’? Ew. If it’s BOY’S stuff,” I spoke of the gifts yet to be unwrapped, “I want it.”
While we have watched and immediately re-watched that particular bit numerous times in the past, it is the irony of the last statement - more than the signs of a spoiled first born apparent in the opening line - that has elicited the hardiest guffaws since I came out to my family.
Five or six years away from puberty at the time of filming, it’s not surprising that my declaration appears authentically adamant. Still, while I had not yet become conscious of my sexual proclivity, my parents couldn’t have held onto that masculine moment for long. Certainly not once I began plopping down beside my sisters for each viewing of the newly acquired, female oriented flick.
The exact number of times we slid that VHS from its glittering case and into the VCR, I cannot say. It was enough, however, that I will never forget the basic storyline: two irrepressibly spunky teenage girls – one Japanese, one a blonde Scandinavian – gallivant around Epcot in Orlando, Florida, sending Barbie birthday wishes from around the “world.”
Obviously, the hostesses were cute, but it wasn’t their looks by which I was most thrilled. Not – at – all. Like my younger sisters, I was more envious than desirous. And it wasn’t even their faux global adventure that inspired our longing, so much as the neon pink and surprisingly compact cell phones through which they communicated whenever they would zip off in their own personal golf karts to record lone segments in separate sections of the theme park.
“You probably did want that movie,” my mom finally mused after we played the clip of my sister’s fourth birthday again, Wednesday night.
It may have took her sixteen years to come to that conclusion, but the important thing is that neither she nor my father ever expressed disapproval of my joining my sisters each time they hit play. In or out of the closet, they’ve never really been anything but supportive. The fact that I can rattle off the synopsis of what was, essentially, a low budget, straight-to-video, Disney marketing campaign when I can’t remember a single formula from Geometry or Advanced Algebra, however –
That would certainly evoke a sigh of disappointment from the both of them.