EXCERPT  |  It was hard not to see my sister’s fling with the singer at the martini bar as some sort of family experiment to see if she could summon someone to intervene. She was like that. Last year she had threatened to join the Marines. The year before, she dropped out of her second master’s program to go to Mexico. Inexplicably this time, no one did, and by fall she had given birth to the singer’s son. But alas, Sir Lancelot had long since left on a crusade of unspecified nature and unknown destination, leaving my sister to persevere alone. After the birth, my sister had vowed to remain chaste until the right man came along to play father to her son. She took to wearing prim flowered dresses, though my brother pointed out they frequently boasted necklines that showed off her cleavage, which had improved considerably upon the birth of her son, whom she breastfed. She placed icons of the Virgin Mary around her house, and my mother worried she would become Catholic. With her newfound zeal for the virtues of motherhood, the self-sacrificing and all, my sister took to addressing our mother as “the Blessed Mother.” This my mother found more distressing than my sister’s Zen Buddhism phase.

My sister proclaimed her vow was in honor of our deceased father, and she set about on a mission to find a father for her son with the same fervor I saw her pursue tickets for my brother and me to a sold-out Nirvana show in her teen-age years.