By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
It?s Thursday afternoon as I?m sitting down to write this column, and I?m starting to get anxious to go home. Not because I want the work day to be over, but because it?s Betsy Night.
My older sister, Betsy, and I have a standing phone date every Thursday. It started out as a way for us to stay in touch, since it was the one night of the week that worked for both of us to talk, but it has turned into a sacred ritual.
What I call Betsy Night and she calls Stephie Night is a highlight of the week for both of us. She knows I get off of work at 5 p.m., yet, she will leave a voicemail on my phone at 4:55 p.m., saying something along the lines of she knows I?m not off of work yet, but she?s home and ready to talk.
The phone call usually starts at 5:10 p.m. my time (6:10 p.m. her time). If one of us doesn?t answer, we?ll leave each other voice mails, always saying the same thing: ?Where are you? It?s Betsy/Stephie Night!? A few minutes later we?ll finally reach each other and then talk for almost two hours.
Our conversations can be random, from our day-to-day lives to Mongolian folk songs to the debate over the Keystone Pipeline to the high cost of organic prunes. She plays her wooden Irish flute for me and lectures me about going to the dentist (she?s always acted like my third parent). Sometimes we talk in Spanish, and I chuckle at her grammatical mistakes because she hasn?t taken a Spanish class since 2003. In response, she speaks to me in German and I have no idea what she says. Recently she told me that if she ever discovers a planet, she does not want her ashes sent there. (The guy who discovered Pluto died, and one ounce of his ashes were sent to Pluto.)
One Betsy Night stands out in my memory because when I called her she immediately demanded that I hang up and call her using my computer instead. She had recently read a new study about cell phones causing cancer and was concerned about me holding my cell phone up to my head for that long. Where she lives doesn?t get cell phone reception, so it wasn?t a concern for her.
She enjoyed being able to see my apartment through my webcam, especially because I was able to point it out the window so she could see leaves. Where she lives ? in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ? didn?t have leaves yet, and there was still snow on the ground.
Betsy Night is one of my favorite nights of the week because it?s a chance to catch up with my favorite sister. I should clarify here that she is my only sister. A few years ago we began occasionally addressing letters and such to ?My favorite sister? or signing them ?Your favorite sister.? Betsy once joked that if we had another sister, it would be kind of awkward.
The phone call usually starts to wind down when one of us gets annoyed with the other and doesn?t want to talk anymore. Then we usually continue talking for at least another half hour before other obligations call.