Ten days, well, a year and ten days if you want to be specific. That’s what separates my brother and I, at least in terms of age. We technically missed the term of “Irish twins” by two hands worth of fingers, which is ok, because we aren’t really twins in any other category either.
William, my brother, is the older, wiser sibling. Not that it was a competition or anything, (I think both parties need to be aware of the race for it to count) but he was always 1 step ahead of me in every category. If you are not already singing, “anything you can do, I can do better” in your head than you should be.
William is taller than me, skinnier than me, had an honors diploma in high school, went to a “Big 10 College” (mine was more like a Big 10 sometimes college) and for the love of everything Holy, he always knew how to hook up my TV, DVD player and VCR up in a way that allowed them all to work properly. I still don’t know how to do that one.
What are my “I can do anything better than you” moments you ask? Well, I learned our home phone number and address before him and made sure his preschool teacher Miss Anita knew about it. I can recite on command (although it’s a talent that is almost never requested) any theme song or useless commercial jingle from memory, and I did not hijack and wreck our Mom’s rider lawn mower in a “drive your tractor to school day” stunt in high school.
We were not bad kids by any means. In fact, if you measure and rate the overall behavior of siblings by the number of times the police or fire departments were called, we were perfect angels. We did, however, have our fair share of fights and arguments that either ended with one person (William) locked in a bedroom, or a 3 way scream match via the phone to my mom’s office.
These post school phone calls were conducted like a trial by jury. William and I would race off the bus, pick up a phone and dial our mom who would be expecting us. We did this so many times that even now, 20 years later, I still know her office number by heart. (765-569-3156 if you are wondering) We would each plead our case over her speaker phone as to why the other was in the wrong and my mom’s co-workers, all standing around her desk, would chuckle and tell us to leave each other alone and go to our room until the referee (mom) got home.
Sometimes this would work but since I was built more like a lineman for the Chicago Bears and he was built more like the president of the chess club, I could pick a fight and usually secure a victory. Thanks again not only to my football physique but also to an incorrectly installed door knob that allowed me to lock his door from the outside. Although, William might have been on to something there. Why stay out in the living room and fight an annoying little sister when you can just “let” her win, and let her lock you in the room and finally gain the peace and quiet you longed for to begin with. Dang it.
Anyways, I digress. William also flew the coop way before me as well. Now, I understand that this was bound to happen because he is in fact older than me, but it was like he flipped a switch over night and was suddenly an adult. He got a “real” cell phone (none of that prepaid stuff) in 11th grade, which was rare back in the day, he bought his own car and car insurance years and I do mean years, before me and he even joined the Army National Guard so he could pay for college without any help from our mom. While I did pay for my college degree, my mom did buy me my first car my sophomore year of college and kept me on her car insurance until I got married. (Thank you mommy).
So, what is this all about? While I admit that this does sound like an application to be on a dysfunctional episode of Dr. Phil, it is in reality, a poorly written letter of gratitude to my brother who is celebrating is 32nd birthday today. Even though it seems that I have painted a jealousy tinted portrait of sibling rivalry, I have more or less outlined all the ways William has pushed me to be a better version of myself and while sometimes I have fallen short of his bench mark, it is the race, imaginary or not, that keeps me going!
The phone calls we share today are no longer mini episodes of “The People’s Court” but more like two friends catching up at the end, or at the beginning, of a busy week. We tell jokes that makes the other laugh, give tv show recommendations, brag or complain about our pets and vent about the current stresses in our life.
I’m not sure when the switch was flipped, and we went from being siblings to friends, I’m just glad that it happened because I honestly don’t have the energy to lock you in your room any more. Enjoy your birthday and the next 10 days of being “2ish” years older than me!