When I was two years and 19 days old my sister was born. From that day on it was my job to torment her. When we were teens, we fought over clothing, the phone, and everything else. I realized recently that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like my sister, it’s that I wished I was more like her. She had all the traits in high school that I envied. She had friends that laughed, partied, and probably a lot more that I wouldn’t know about. She had cool clothes and long, curly hair. In college, when I talked her into going through sorority rush, she had the Pi Phis attention. The Pi Phis wouldn’t look at me. I was quieter, and not as confident. But we all grow and change. Somewhere in our metamorphosis into decent adults, the idea of Bucket List Adventures was born.
It all began a few years back, I think at Christmas, when my sister said she wanted to go to Groundhog Day in Punxsuatawney, PA. She said it was on her bucket list. I’m not sure why, but I wanted to go too. We set the hotel alarm for 12:30am and drove to Punxsuatawney. That is quite a drive in the middle of the night, hilly, winding, and dark. We sat in the Walmart parking lot until the bus to Gobbler’s Knob came at 2:50am. We put on our groundhog hats, hopped on, and were right up front by 3:00. Keep in mind that Phil doesn’t come out and give his prediction until 7:20 or so. We nailed a spot right next to the camera stand; with a perfect view of the dj and people dressed up like groundhogs giving high fives. For four hours and twenty minutes we stood in slight drizzle and listened to the band, cheered on the high school dance team, and groaned at bad jokes. We jumped up and down to “Wake Me Up” and yelled “Winner, winner chicken dinner” with the crowd. When at about 6am they started throwing around beach balls, the balls became covered in mud. We didn’t want to get muddy, so whenever a mudball would come at us we would stuff it under the camera stand. We put three or four out of commission that way. We reached a feverish pitch when the fireworks exploded. Finally, with about 14,000 people behind us, it was time. Phil emerged, with the assistance of a man who didn’t even seem to mind that he got bit. Phil was lifted to the fireworks-hazy sky as a king. Right when he was about to make his prediction some stupid lady behind us fainted. People were calling for the medics and to stop the show. Ha! Silly people, nothing stops the groundhog. She should have toughed it out like we did. What a wimp. No matter. The top hat clad men of the inner circle put two scrolls on a surface about two feet apart, and Phil waddled to one of them, sniffing it. That’s how he made his prediction.
It was then that my sister lost it. She is a naturalist and thought there was more scientific process behind the Phil pick. There was no sunlight to see his shadow; it was still dark, and with the firework haze nothing could shine through anyway. She was crushed and appalled that it was so random. We and the crowd of 14,000 walked through the mud that would take us to the buses that would take us back down the hill to the town. We walked our muddy selves to the Walmart parking lot and drove away looking for coffee. Keep in mind that we had not had coffee that morning because we wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom and it was raining. We were cold and wet. My sister was still peeved about the lack of reputable weather skill exhibited by the great Phil. I was just tired. We needed coffee. By the way, he predicted 6 more weeks of winter which is actually a no-brainer around here. I could have predicted that and I’m not even a groundhog.
We arrived at some Denny’s like restaurant and were seated, then ignored. I noticed that table after table got coffee and we didn’t. Finally our waitress made the rounds. She stopped at the table next to us and made a comment about “these groundhog people” making it slow. Now I was both tired and peeved. When she came to us, I loudly told her that we ARE those groundhog people, and if she didn’t want us there we would leave. I even started to stand up. Of course she backpedaled, apologized and got us the coffee. Damn right. My sister stared at me like I grew three heads. What she doesn’t know is that I will always stand up for her. Nobody is going to deny my sister coffee just because she is a groundhog person. She is my little sister after all, and I love her. I can torment her the rest of the year.