Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a Spiritual Guru like Shri Shri Ravi Shankar or anything. I’m not looking to start an Imodium movement, but I just really believe that if you listen closely the universe will send you a message every now and then to make a dream come true. You just have to be open to it. I’m short, balding, and have been fat for most of my life so I’m not exactly what you’d immediately picture when you say someone is lucky but the universe sent me a sign and that kinda makes me pretty lucky indeed.
I’m not quite sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my sister is really crazy. There’s no sugar-coating it –crazy is crazy and she’s crazy! In the past, I‘ve shared some examples of her vigilante antics and differing mindset than pretty much all of the normal, functioning world. For instance, when she sees a drug deal going down, she instinctively hits the gas and grabs her bat! When I see something like that, I dive over the passenger seat into the back and hit the floor screaming like Shirley Maclaine in that hospital scene from Terms of Endearment! People are just different I guess.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve made fun of my sister because her actions made it seem like she was trying to start her own chapter of the Guardian Angels. She rocked that bat more than Negan on The Walking Dead, yet she was a good sport when we teased. Partly because she has a good sense of humor, partly because she seriously thought that her vigilante behavior was the appropriate response to the situations, and partly because, as I’ve said before but it bears repeating – she’s crazy!
Right before her birthday in December, I actually found a hat store in San Francisco that sells the exact red beret Curtis Sliwa – THE GUARDIAN ANGEL HIMSELF – wears! As you can imagine I got express shipping and it was the absolute best birthday gift she’s ever received! Flash forward a month down the line and I’m randomly walking in Penn Station when it was all of a sudden like slow motion in a movie: clear as day through the massive crowd of people, I looked over and saw CURTIS SLIWA walking right past me. CURTIS!!! CURTIS!!! I started screaming and ran over to catch up.
He stopped and looked at me like I was a lunatic and this is a man used to dealing with lunatics. I screamed “OH MY GOD – I love you! You’re not going to believe it but my sister is a vigilante too!” Cue his look of utter confusion, bewilderment, and I’m sure mild annoyance. Cue my incessant rambling on. (If only the Imodium AD could help with the verbal Diarrhea too!) I’m not sure if he actually thought that I was making fun of him or was just really crazy with the way I was carrying on, but the words were just pouring out of me like chili through a baby! “No joke, my sister really is – she’s crazy – LOOK! This is the picture of her daughter that she literally just sent me yesterday!!!” With that I showed him a picture of my niece that she had texted me the day before WEARING THE EXACT SAME RED BERET HE HAD ON HIS HEAD!!! He smiled and then his face had a hint of confusion and he looked like he thought at first I was making fun of him or about to present him with a long lost love child, but then I could see the exact moment of clarity when it all gelled for him – he knew at that exact moment that I was full-on crazy. I’m sure a lot of lunatics come up to him on the street and talk, but how many stop to show of pictures of their two year old niece on patrol rocking the exact same red beret as him?
“Curtis, my sister is really crazy and helps people getting jumped and tried to stop drug deals with the bat in her trunk – she doesn’t go anywhere without that bat!” It wasn’t clear and concise, but I felt like if I had a chance to explain he’d really get a kick out of it, but I couldn’t build a coherent sentence to save my life. “She’s really your biggest fan and I got her that beret for her birthday!!!” I wouldn’t say he was flattered with the intel I was delivering and it might have been my over excitement or the fact that I was unfolding my crazy family legacy to a stranger in Penn Station as if this was at all normal. Then it hit me so I had to ask: “Will you FaceTime with my sister? I can call her right now. She’ll die!” “No” he replied and I can’t say that I blame him although he could have taken a second to think it over. Can you imagine if she answered the face time wearing that beret? He would have plotzed! “Curtis, please take a picture with me – I’m serious, she’s going to freak out when she hears that I met you and when she sees this picture – she’s gonna die!” Cue the selfie and just like that he went on his way back to patrol and make us all just a little safer. I stood there smiling ear to ear, mumbling to myself like a mental patient about how awesome that just was.
Of course, not two seconds after he was out of sight, I call my sister screaming! I wanted to text her the picture but waited so that I could hear her reaction live – which was awesome! She was hysterical and couldn’t believe it – although she did say she would have killed me if he actually FaceTimed with her. When I told my wife, her response was surprisingly less subdued: “Get back to work before you get fired! What the hell are you doing in Penn Station?” “Honey, I’m making dreams come true is what I’m doing…” There I was, literally having an out of body experience and all she could ask is why I’m bothering strangers. That and she was curious as to how I even recognized him on the street, as if he’s just an average Joe. I was like “Honey, let’s break it down: even if you live a very sheltered life and happen to not know what he looks like – he literally wears a red beret and jacket that says Guardian Angels – Helen Keller could identify him in a lineup!” She wasn’t as excited for me as I felt a supportive spouse should be and she didn’t want to encourage any more of my nonsense so I did the only appropriate thing you can do in a situation like that: I called my sister back. Even though she’s a lunatic, she could at least appreciate the significance of the moment!
When I tell people these things about my sister, there are usually two reactions to it: A) people think there’s really something wrong with her and then feel bad for laughing. She’s crazy, but it’s not like a diagnosed on the meds kind of crazy so it’s OK to laugh at her. The other reaction is that they think I’m exaggerating…UNTIL THEY MEET HER. Don’t make me go hidden camera on her or Facebook Live with her so you can see the cray cray at a safe distance. I’d like to say that she has calmed down and that through the wisdom of age, my sister has settled into a sense of normalcy, but that would be ignoring the aforementioned bat that we moved out of the way to load her groceries into the trunk last weekend! Just like the big wheels that keep on turnin’ – Proud Marlene keeps on burnin!
As a side note to this, I can understand what you’re thinking after hearing about this: why is she keeping the bat all the way back in the trunk? In a street fight, who has time to pop the trunk, run to the back of the car, and then retrieve the bat? Rookie mistake if you ask Curtis. Just for practical purposes, she should keep it in the back seat or have my niece hold it in her car seat on the off chance there’s a drive by and she needs to jump in.
So what is the lesson we learn here folks? Obviously, never get in the car with my sister unless you’re wearing Kevlar, but also – take your Imodium every day and Dream Big! This wasn’t me winning the Powerball Jackpot or my hair growing back kind of dream – but it was still pretty damn awesome!