It’s sounds like such a cliché to say I can’t believe it has been twelve years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but there it is. Twelve years; it’s unbelievable. The other day I overheard some ladies in a coffee shop debating on how long it had been. They couldn’t even remember the year.
Of course, everyone recalls what they were doing and where they were when they first heard about the attacks. Back then, I worked at a bank and all I remember that day is grey. My grey cubicle walls, the grey carpet, the blurry grey of my computer screen as I ignored emails and phone calls to obsessively refresh my news feeds. Trying to choke down the painful lump in my throat as I struggled to contain tears while the impossible images just kept rolling in.
September 11 is also my birthday, so instead of going home after work to curl up in a ball and cry, I met my husband at my parents’ house for my birthday dinner. Nobody was in the mood for conversation and we sat glued to the evening news reports as horrific smoking clips replayed over and over with audio of President Bush’s public address.
Now, here I must digress and mention that back in 2001, my youngest sister was going through an emo phase. Her wardrobe consisted of black t-shirts, bondage pants and boots, accessorised with sharp metal things like spiky belts and chains. She was listening to screamo and industrial metal, which sounds roughly about how a cat would sound if you put it in a blender. Emotionally, she was a hot mess of teen angst.
Anyway, when dinner was ready, we sat down to a dark and somber meal. Nobody knew what to say. What had happened seemed surreal, like we would wake up the next day and it would all be some elaborate hoax. But even on that first day, everyone knew that things had changed and would never be the same.
Somehow, we did manage to discuss something, I really don’t remember what. What I do remember is that emo sister said the word ‘shit’ at some point. Well, my dad is a lot more tolerant of terrible language now, since he works with me and I commonly unleash expletive-laden tirades at the office. But back then, you did not swear in front of him. And you DEFINITELY did not swear at the dinner table.
Well, my dad took exception to her swearing, and she took exception to his exception. And then my dad’s head started to explode. He yelled at her to go to her room, and she, the misunderstood, oppressed teen screamed back at him. Then she pushed away from the table and stood to storm off in a dramatic exit.
Only…one of the chains from her pants had gotten tangled around her chair back. When she stomped away from the table, the weight of the chair snapped her forward momentum when the length of the chain ran out. Furious now at the chair, she fought with it to untangle herself. The rest of the family looked on as she struggled with it and she finally just yelled ‘FFFFUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKK’ at the top of her lungs. Finally disconnecting herself from the chair, she jerked herself free, knocking the chair down onto its side with a loud smack.
After she had fled the room in a complete rage, the rest of us sat in stunned silence, blinking at one another in disbelief. First of all, nobody drops the f-bomb at the dinner table with my dad present. Second of all, His face was purple. But then, I just couldn’t help it. What a fucked up birthday dinner. I started laughing silently until I was shaking with it. I looked over at my other sister, who was also struggling to contain herself. We dissolved into laughter then as my dad’s face returned to its normal colour. For just those few minutes, the uncertainty and terror of the day melted away.
Anyway, if you’re ever in the company of sister #2 and I, we do a killer reenactment of the event, so be sure to request it.
Bondage pants can be hazardous