It seems few people know that I have a big brother. I’m sure fewer people know that he has a little sister. From the very beginning I was doomed to bear the title, “Little Sister” – and not just as result of birth order. I also inherited the negative connotations associated with the title (i.e., “bratty pest”), even though I didn’t do most of the things that would justify such a name. I didn’t follow him or his friends around incessantly, steal his things, set him up and rat him out to Mom, or generally make a nuisance of myself (at least I’m pretty sure I didn’t)! Sometimes it seemed my very existence was an abomination in his world. He asserts to this day that, when asked if he wanted a little brother or a little sister, he most definitely said “little brother”. I cannot begin to imagine the horror he felt when pink invaded our home…
For the most part, he ignored me. Four years my senior, we had little in common. There were, of course, some usual big brother pranks…he locked me in dark closets and beheaded a few Barbie dolls. He required that I walk a respectful 10 paces behind him. He “punch-buggy-ed me” every time we saw a Volkswagon Beetle (I hated the poster in his room). And he had plenty of affectionate names for me: Stupid, Dipstick, Kitspid (which is dipstick backwards) and so on. He’d tease me by doing things like dancing around in Dad’s work boots like a ballerina. He and his friend would call the house after school when they knew I was home alone and in a gravelly voice, say: “Hi. I’m an axe murderer and I’m coming to kill you”. And we had conversations like:
Me: You’re stupid
Bro: I know you are but what am I
Me: You’re smart and funny and everybody loves you
Bro: I know I am but what are you.
Needless to say, it took me awhile to catch on.
Occasionally we did some things together. We fought over whether we were watching Star Trek or Little House. We fought over who left a “dribble” in the bottom of the milk bag and therefore, needed to change it. We conspired together and dumped my grandmother off her raft at the lake. When he got his license, we enjoyed driving places together with the windows down and the music cranked.
One summer he convinced me that sharks could swim up the St. Lawrence into our lake and adapt to the fresh water. I don’t think I went any deeper than my ankles the entire summer because I was afraid of fresh water sharks. He once tried to convince me there were white snow tarantulas too…
There was the time that my bro and his friend, and my friend and I, went to the fairgrounds to play Capture the Flag. My friend and I got bored and headed home. I went to the front door to get the house key (it was under a bag of salt between the two doors), but when I reached down, the door knob started to move…and then the door opened. I shrieked. To this day, I don’t know how he beat us to the house and got inside without being seen. I was still shaking hours later.
But once in awhile, my big brother came through for me. When my Mom had the flu and I was sad, he let me hug his arm…briefly. He saved me from drinking dead “flueggies” in my milk. And he let me borrow his Walkman when I got sent home from school with head lice.
So to my big brother, I’m sorry I wasn’t a little brother. But I’d just like to say, thanks for the memories. I love you and miss you. And finally,
Last week’s writing challenge was a memoir…I’m a bit behind…If you want to read other writers ‘ “memoirs”, you can click here.