In my quest to become internationally famous by sitting on my couch with my computer and writing about my glamorous life as primary caregiver to three energetic boys, I entered a writing contest at Real Simple. (Why publishers aren't knocking down my door and trying to throw multi-million dollar book deals at me is a mystery.) The topic was as follows:
Who is the person you are most surprised to be friends with? Maybe it was someone whom you had nothing in common with, someone you’ve only conversed with via e-mail, or someone who started out as more of a rival than a friend. Whoever that unexpected friend is, tell us about him or her.
My essay, apparently, was not Winning. I am now free to do with it what I please, so here it is. (All names have been disguised with clever nicknames to protect the innocent. And also because I'm all clever like that.)
At two years old, I was excited to be getting a new baby brother or sister. Medicine was different in 1976, however. My mother did not have a sonogram and it wasn’t until she had delivered my brother, known here as The Redneck, that she discovered there was a Slim in there too.
|He got the tall, thin genes.|
I got the double chins.
My parents assure me that I was a huge help, but eventually the novelty wore off. I had been the only child for two whole years and I was ready for these babies to go back from whence they came.
As a child, I never really warmed up to them. The Redneck was so easy-going and laid back. And by this I mean easily manipulated. I could dress him up like a giant doll, make him eat my lima beans, and convince him to chauffer my Barbies in his Tonka truck. He was okay; not great, but he’d do.
Slim got on my last ever-lovin’ nerve. He was the smaller of the two and he always got extra attention. I harbored the idea that he was Mommy’s favorite and this did not sit well with me. He had a lisp, (the snake says “thhhhh!”), he wore bib overalls EVERY day, and I once got grounded for making him drink “lemonade” I had concocted out of tap water and kitty litter. (USED kitty litter.) So annoying. Our sibling relationship throughout our childhood was one of mere co-existence.
But we grew up. We have celebrated marriages, the birth of children, and new homes, and we have leaned on each other during bouts of depression, health scares, and the loss of our mother. We have the shared history and the unspoken camaraderie that only siblings can have, and I have found my brother to be the first to offer me true, unconditional friendship.