The Curious Thing about Little Sisters

The Curious Thing about Little Sisters

My sis and I get along pretty well these days, which is kind of surprising since we’re actually pretty different. Take physical appearance: when I tell people I have a sister, they automatically assume she will be the size of a small moon because I am; they’re always surprised when they meet her and find she’s actually quite petite. By the way their eyes shift back and forth, I know they’re thinking, “He must have eaten all her food when they were growing up.” Yep, pretty much! :-)

I was a pretty typical selfish and oafish big brother growing up, which meant that a lot of the games I invented to amuse myself involved some form of bugging my sister. She never really bugged me back, which in retrospect makes me feel like a big jerk. Then we went off to college, discovered who we are along the way, and developed separate lives. Now that I’ve been back in the New England area, we’ve gotten to hang out more and spend time together during the holidays. I’m really glad that I’m getting to know her more as a person. It’s surprising that you can know someone for so long and not know everything about them. For example, here are some things I’ve come to realize about Sis that give me great pleasure:

  • Em knows how to sniff out a bargain! Not only that, but she does not shy away from haggling! That’s so cool…I need to shadow her on a shopping trip to see how she does it.

  • Em has a curmudgeonly streak in her that expresses itself in wonderfully literate and sublime ways. Her blog is a great example of that…I’m glad she’s writing it. She and I started around the same time, but hers is much cooler than mine.

  • Em is stylish and hip. Every piece of clothing that I’ve gotten a compliment on has been a gift from her…EVERY ONE! As I grow older, I grow more in awe of her ahead-of-the-curve awareness of what’s cool and what’s not. The upshot of this insight is that I’m not very cool, but I am somewhat redeemed because I’m “Emily’s brother”.

<

p>It’s also very cool that she and I have overlapping senses of humor that are unfathomable. I think it’s just an example of sibling humor; certain words are funny because we grew up proclaiming them funny. We have certain speech patterns that we only use with each other. For example, we used to play a word game based on (I think) the Bugs Bunny versus Daffy Duck gag Duck Season! Rabbit Season! If you’re not familiar with the gag, the general goal is to trick Daffy Duck into affirming the wrong statement, which then results in him getting shot in the face by Elmer Fudd, back when such things were deemed funny instead of setting a dangerous precedent for our impressionable young children. It was justifiable wordplay, officer! But I digress…here’s an example of how we played the game, sans firearms:

PERSON A (casually): Are you a cat? PERSON B (instantly on-guard): Yes. Are YOU a FISH? PERSON A (countering briskly): Nope. Are YOU a fish? PERSON B: No. Are you…a FISH? PERSON A: No. Are you a…CAT? PERSON B: Yes! But are YOU a FISH?

And on it goes. I think we played this for hours when we were, like, around 7 years old. The idea was that being a cat was good, being a fish was NOT. Like a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, the game is winnable only if the other person has a momentary lapse of judgement. I’m pretty sure we played it right up until we left for college, and while we no longer play it competitively, during IM conversations we’ll often toss out the occassional “are you a fish?” line out of habit. It’s sort of an affirmation that we’re aware that the other person is there, but we can’t really think of anything to say. It also expresses our affection for each other, which I will readily admit if you were to twist my arm behind my back and ask me if I was a fish over and over again until I cracked. (BTW, I am not a fish).

So I’m feeling particularly happy about having a sister, and as I’m writing this I’m struck at how this actually makes me a little protective of her. Em’s a pretty independent gal, so she doesn’t need it, but that protectiveness sometimes casts its baleful gaze upon onto her boyfriend Robert. I didn’t even realize I had a protective streak until I just now read my sister’s post about her birthday…she sounds so happy. That makes me appreciative that she’s with someone who really really “gets” her. The 7-year old versions of ourselves would make up a poem and march around the livingroom singing Robert’s praises out loud at the very top of our lungs. It would probably go something like this:

Sing Ho! For Rob-art! He’s a good Egg! Not a fah-tart! Not Rotten! Not Broken! Just a Good Egg. Huzzah!

It’s shocking how easily that song formula comes to me; you can probably guess what books my sis and I grew up reading just from that “poom” :-) It’s good to know that she’s happy, and that makes me happy too.