EXCERPT: 'The Kids Are All Right'

LIZ Mom and Dad may have been sad Amanda wasn't coming to Myrtle Beach, but I was relieved. Amanda hated me. She called me Big Shot and a dumb blond and tattled on me for talking on the phone with my friends, which I would do for hours on end. A week in Myrtle Beach without her meant I could work on my tan in peace and quiet, and put lemon juice in my hair without her sneering at me or putting her finger in her mouth and pretending to throw up. Or singing that Carly Simon song "You're So Vain."

Auntie Eve was coming instead. We all adored Auntie Eve. She used to be our live- in nanny, but when Diana turned two, she moved to Yorktown Heights, twenty minutes from Bedford, to live with her son and his family. She still came twice a week to clean the house and do the laundry since Mom wasn't keen on house work. "It's not my forte," she'd say. Auntie Eve was in her seventies, I think, but if you asked her how old she was, she'd always answer, "Old enough!" Dad joked that between Auntie Eve and Mom he had the perfect wife.

"Why aren't we flying?" I asked Dad as he strategically stacked Mom's golf clubs on top of a cooler in the back of our Jeep Wagoneer. "Isn't it far?"

"Road trips are fun!" he bellowed, rearranging two suitcases to fit the last duffel bag, this one full of beach toys. "Plus, we'll get to see a bit of the East Coast."

Dad hopped in the driver's seat, and I sat directly behind him. Mom took her place in the front seat, and Auntie Eve took hers, behind Mom. Dan was squished in the middle, and Diana bounced from my lap to Eve's to Mom's before crawling in the back and making a nest on top of the luggage, where she fell asleep, her pale cheek smashed against Mom's leather golf bag, forcing her lips into a pucker. By the time we crossed the George Washington Bridge and entered New Jersey, I was bored stiff. We'd only been driving one hour and had thirteen more to go. Dad started a game of punch buggy, and then Mom suggested the capital game and we all moaned. Then Mom started singing, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be," and everyone sang the part that sounds like human horns, "eh eh eh eh eh," before she finished the line, "a bumpy night." It was the song she had a one- line solo in when she did Applause on Broadway with Lauren Bacall. The solo went, "She's laughing a bit too loudly, that's how the last one began."

After that song, Mom tried to get me to sing "Tomorrow" with her, but I refused, having sworn never to sing that song ever again, not after auditioning for Annie on Broadway the year before. The casting director asked me to do the part that goes, "When I'm stuck with a daaay that's graaay and lo- onelyyy, I just stick out my chiiiiin and griiiin and saaay . . . !" They were the highest, hardest notes in the whole song. My voice strained to reach them and then cracked when I got there. The director yelled "Cut!" before I could even sing the refrain. "I'm sick of that song," I said, rolling my eyes.

Mom caught me doing it out of the corner of her eye and frowned. "Don't be a bad sport, Bitsy," she said. "It's unbecoming."

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