The last time my family was together, we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant at the beach in Santa Monica. At some point in the meal, my sister-in-law was talking and apropos of nothing, my sister announced that people often mistook her for Cindy Crawford. It was such an odd comment that my sister-in-law just kept talking.
It was not the first time my sister had said such things. Once, in the middle of a conversation about something else, she'd announced that she could be a super model. I'd laughed, thinking she was making a joke. She wasn't. Not only was she not joking, she was really annoyed at me for dismissing the idea so casually and, well, so dismissively.
And here's the thing. Back in her twenties, when she was healthy and happy, my sister was a pretty girl. She had fabulous hair and was six feet tall and had green-blue eyes that sparkled.
By the time she was talking about being a supermodel, her looks had been wrecked by years of illness and bad food and worse decisions. I was with her once when she stopped a passerby to ask for directions and he mistook her for a homeless person. She had lost more than several teeth and her hair had been chopped off haphazardly because she couldn't keep it from knotting.
She had friends who thought she was just fine and that her other friends (who by now were rapidly de-friending her) and her family members who were concerned about her were just being party-poopers. There were shrinks. ("My psychiatrist thinks you're the one with the problem.") There was rehab (and a refill of a vicodin script the same day she got out). There was a methadone program. Her three counselors came to her funeral.
A lot of people think Charlie Sheen is hilarious. And damn if the guy hasn't got a way with a catchphrase. But I'm not laughing.