Through Sick & Sin
Sometime this week or next and 25 years ago, Michele and I met for the first time. I’d been in Canada about three months, knew no one except my parents, sister and dog and had discovered that being good at English in Denmark was much, much different than understanding university lectures in courses I’d never been exposed to before. One of those courses was psychology and we had a lab in which we did basic experiments in operant conditioning with gerbils, rats and pigeons (we were the last who got our hands on actual animals; by the next year, animal rights’ groups had forced those labs to shut down and rightfully so). After our first lab test, I was trying to see the results that were posted, as all things are, at a convenient height for walking people. I asked the girl who was already checking out the posting to tell me my grade and the rest, as they say, is history.
We had a lot of fun in university, especially once I started understanding what Michele said. Canadians speak fast, she speaks really fast and between that and my mangling of the English language, much hilarity ensued. So much so that she was the one who gave me my first nickname. I’d wanted one for as long as I could remember and Krudtirøv didn’t really work beyond age 7. Remember V? The aliens that came to earth and looked all normal and friendly, but really, they were giant lizards out to stock up their larders with humans? One of them had originally been supposed to go to Russia but his destination was changed to the US at the last minute and he was a little iffy with the language (“all systems go” became “all sisters go”). His name was Willie (played by Robert Englund) and it became my nickname. I still have a fondness for knickknacks, jewellery and miscellaneous decorations with a lizard theme and every now and again, when I mangle the language, Michele will call me Willie.
University was also when we adopted the phrase “through sick and sin” (shamelessly pilfered from from this book) and we have been through it all together. From sitting by the hallway couches at Scarborough Campus holding up imaginary scorecards of hotness as guys walked by, gleefully smoking a plant from the backyard that we were convinced was marijuana and getting very, very giggly (it wasn’t weed… it was a weed, thus proving the whole power of suggestion thing), dancing everywhere we could - yes, we have A Song - to me standing up (figuratively speaking) for Michele at her wedding, her placing her newborns in my arms and allowing me to be a sort of godmother to her boys, to us asking her, as a member of our family, to deliver one of the eulogies at my father’s memorial service. We have been through marriages, break-ups and divorce, illness (our own and others’) and death, disappointments and triumphs and we have talked each other through grief and growth and laughed until we couldn’t breathe.
Michele is part of every important thing that has happened in my life in the last quarter century. She is my sister-friend, a member of our chosen family, we are each other’s Thelma & Louise (and still argue about who’s who), fully intending to sit in our wheelchairs in the nursing home when we’re old, holding up imaginary scorecards as the male nurses go by and to, at the end, go out in a blaze of glory. Together.
I am a very lucky woman..
Happy silver, Michele!
And because I’ve just figured out how to do this, a wee video starring my friend, the instigator of the tissue paper game and her new subjects for subversion (that's her youngest, Scott in the corner, hiding from the paparazzi).