Prologue: Hey, Jealousy
When my cousin and I were about five (I have no concept of children's ages; they’re all mysterious and manipulative fast things to me, and even I was to myself), we were given oversized rainbow lollipops and parked in an equally oversized recliner, all bowl cuts and pull-on jeans and Care Bear sweaters. As was our M.O., we faked a momentary détente for a Polaroid, our smiles an unidentifiable shade of mauve-blue and legs kicked neatly out in front of us. We loved each other very much, and in that magical way that only little girls are capable of, that love could turn to a piercing, hateful jealousy in the time it takes to rip off the head of a Barbie doll.
In my demented little bowl-cut head, after our picture was taken I was struck with the sudden realization that her lollipop was a hair breadth larger than mine, sporting an extra round of pink around the edge. In that moment, I became painfully aware of the tragic discrepancies in my own family: my grandmother clearly favoured Tracey, determining her to be prettier, smarter, wiser (being seven months older than me), and therefore more deserving of her love which, in this case, manifested in the form of a bigger piece of candy.
Obviously, I would not stand for this.
I eye-balled Tracey and her lollipop, and persuaded her to trade me, charmingly extolling the virtues of my own and why she’d prefer it (did I mention I’d grow up to be an actor?) Being seven months older and wise to used car salesmen like me, she held tighter to hers and sagely posited that I should be happy with what I've got (did I mention she’d grow up to be a mother?) I think at that point I’d gotten a sore neck from looking up at her and her horse, so I decided to resort to brute force. If I wouldn't get to have her lollipop that was representative of being a better person, then she wouldn't get to, either. (I was a child and had yet to understand irony. I think I STILL have yet to understand irony.) I drove my ginormous piece of hardened sugar straight into hers, intending to smash it to pieces. But protected by the force of righteousness, her lollipop held firm. And mine, rotten to the core for its evil intent, shattered and fell in my lap. I started wailing immediately, and Tracey launched into a practiced version of “I told you so”.
It’s no small thing for me to admit that nearly thirty years later, not much has changed: I'm still eyeing up peoples’ proverbial lollipops and wanting to destroy them in an envious, childish fit. I've just gotten better at hiding it.