My sister is such a fool. You'd think that with three older siblings she'd have learned by osmosis how to successfully pull a few tricks in her teenage years. Hell, I was the trailblazer and still I managed to sneak into Georgetown bars every weekend. Of course, it was the early 90s then, before IDs had holograms, back when Georgetown was still cool. But this isn't even about bars or drinking; it's about a DVD.
Last night my father called me around dinnertime. "I need your advice on something." He sounded tired; like whatever was going on, he'd had enough of it.
"Your sister was out bopping around Bethesda with her friends last night," he said. "They decided to rent a movie. So she calls me from Blockbuster to ask what our account number is, and then she puts the cashier on the phone and the woman asks me if Steph has permission to be renting 'Sex and the City.' To which I of course I replied, 'No freakin' way.'"
I told Dad that was a good call. "It's totally inappropriate; Stephanie's just not ready for that show -- at least not unedited. I own all the DVDs and every time she asks if she can borrow one, which is often, I shoot her down."
"Well, she and her friend came home with a Blockbuster bag and when I asked what they had rented she told me it was 'Shrek 2.' Pretty innocuous, right? So I said fine, and they went down into the basement, and I went to bed. I guess it's my own fault for not looking inside the bag...
"The next morning I came downstairs to find two DVD cases sitting on the kitchen counter -- 'Sex and the City' season 3, and 'Sex and the City' season 5."
I tried to stifle a belly laugh. "So what'd you do?"
"Well, I confronted her! And she just didn't think what she'd done was a big deal. I know there needs to be some consequence, but I haven't decided yet what I'm going to do."
Oh, the irony; of all my siblings, I was the kid who smoked dope in the parking lot of the local mall. I was the one who skipped school, sneaked out, sneaked in, lied about my age and made out with 24-year-old Army boys on the Exorcist Steps when I was only 16. And now my father is asking me for disciplinary advice. (These days I'm asleep by midnight on Saturdays and sipping coffee over the New York Times by 8:00 a.m. the next day. The last thing I smoked was a piece of salmon.)
After a bit more chuckling I said, "You know, Dad, I don't know which is more disappointing -- that she committed the offense, or that she was too stupid to hide the evidence." I promised to think it over and get back to him with any ideas.
My best friend L -- wise, creative and just a little bit twisted -- is always a good consultant on matters such as these. So I asked her: If she was the parent in this situation, what would she do?
"Well, I might congratulate her for being able to talk her way into the rental after the telephone call from the store clerk. But then I'd have to chastise her for being stupid by getting caught with the contraband. Then again, I might give her kudos for having the chutzpah to flaunt those DVD cases by getting caught... I think you should make her smoke a foul cigar until she turns green. No, wait, that's for getting caught with cigarettes; never mind.
"Okay, here it is: Make her watch the DVD in front of the entire family... and... give you all a running commentary on the plot and scenes!"
I shared L's ideas with my Dad. "Public humiliation it is!" he declared. "And on top of that? I think I'm going to be too busy to drive her to the DMV for that learner's permit. Like for the next few months."