a radical, liberal, fanatical, a criminal

big families are good training grounds for nearly everything you will encounter during your life.  as the baby of five, i spent my first decade or so in a front row seat of the theater of growing up.  my siblings ranged in age from 4 to 8 years older, so i had the advantage of watching them go through everything first, at all stages, from all perspectives.  puberty, sports, dating, popularity, failure, punishment, redemption and fledging the nest.  in a big family, you also get first rate training in group dynamics.  verbal sparring at the dinner table teaches one the art of debate and self defense.  and keep your eyes open — you might even learn a thing or two about yourself, at any given moment.  
for instance, i distinctly remember my oldest sister telling me one day that she heard a song on the radio that reminded her of me.  she said it was called the logical song and that i should listen to it.   the reader should note that my sister was the stunning-long-blond-hair-perfect-teeth-homecoming-queen and i was the pigtails-and-dirty-feet-and-scabby-elbows-nerdy-kid.  her statement was profound in two ways — first, it demonstrated her acknowledgment of my existence.   second, someone, somewhere had written a song about me.
 
the first time i heard it, i couldn’t understand a word they were saying, much less relate it to my own pitiful existence. the second time i heard it, i thought the line “but then they sent me away to teach me how to be sensible” was her secret way of telling me that my parents were sending me away to boarding school. (which they should have, but they didn’t) 
the next time i remember hearing it was in high school, when the line “you better watch what you say or they’ll be calling  you a radical, liberal, fanatical, a criminal” was beginning to fit like a glove.  i remembered what my sister had said and wondered how she could see that so early on in that scrubby little kid with pigtails. 
 
since then, i’ve probably heard the song less than 40 times and each time i hear something new, based on where i am at the time.  i’ve been all of those things at some point in my life, and have never not been at least one at any given time.  but each time i hear it, i still remember that sunny day in 1979 when my sister unwittingly told me who i was.
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