My teenage niece caught my sister smoking.
My sister doesn't smoke. Never did. At least not as far as my niece knows.
It wasn't like she caught her out behind their garage, or found a pack of cigarettes in her bag. No, the 14 year old caught her mother "red-handed" with the smoking gun...uh, cigarette...in her hand.
She saw her do it on a home movie.
A couple of times a year - on the big holidays - we take out old videos and pop them in for the kids. Despite my family's best efforts to avoid me and my camera, I've managed to take a lot of video of them over the years for which they are now all very grateful.
This particular video was of my sister's wedding about 16 years ago. I schlepped my video camera - 20 lbs of the latest in compact home video technology - all the way to the Berkshires.
I carried the monster around on my shoulder for the whole weekend and followed her, my brother-in-law-to-be, and their friends around asking them stupid things like "Do you have anything to say?", "Are you excited?" and "Would you like to say a few words to the bride and groom?"
At every turn I was thwarted with hands over faces and chastised for being an annoying little sister: "Stop it, Sarah!" "You're bugging everyone!" "No one wants you to videotape them!" she'd say from between the fingers covering her face. But I persisted. I thought "Some day, she'll want to see this. Someday, she'll be glad I taped her wedding weekend. Someday...she'll be grateful."
So I videotaped her and all her friends, at breakfast, at dinner, hanging out, and I got a lot of footage. Footage we never watched...until now.
As we assembled in my TV room for family videos I said proudly"Guess what? I just put your wedding video on DVD! Wanna watch?"
"Really????! Put it in! Put it in!" See? I told you she'd be grateful someday.
So we're watching footage of all of us 16 years ago - partying, celebrating...and what do you know...I apparently had the camera right up behind my sister's head and said "Hey!" so she'd turn around unguarded. Sure enough, she did and she was smoking a cigarette.
My neice shrieked! "MOMMY! YOU SMOKED!"
My sister froze.
Maybe she's not so grateful after all.