I have been a big sister since I was 4 years and 8 months old, and have suffered accordingly. So, when the comic strip “Baby Blues” by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott served up an issue about the sister-brother relationship, I clipped it and sent it to my brother Dave in Texas.
The father in the strip notices the very little boy has painted his bottom green. Why? He ran out of green marker. He planned to do this to his whole body so he could be “The Hulk.” The father asks where he got such a crazy idea. Enter the older sister with a load of green markers, and the father’s comment, “Oh, yeah, you have an older sister.”
I should have framed it before I sent it to Dave, because he has spent a large part of his life complaining to his friends about the horrible things I’ve done to him.
One of his favorites is why he was waterlogged until he finally learned to talk so others could understand him. I usually add that happened by the time he was 15. The fact is Dave was “dutchy.” Even our Mom couldn’t understand him, so frequently she would ask me what he said. According to him, I would ask him to repeat his statement while I listened with rapt attention. Then I would nod my head wisely and report to my mom, “He wants a drink of water.”
He also claims I am solely responsible for a scar on his head you can’t even see any more. According to him, I would force him to play dress up when we were little. Dress up was a favorite game of little girls then. We would take our mothers’ cast-off dresses and accessories and parade around in them. And it may be possible that when my girlfriends weren’t available I would allow him to play.
The way he tells it, I stuffed him into an old dress that was way too long for him. The dress might have been too long because way back then my short mother’s dress would have been long on him. Then I forced him to wear her high heels and carry her old purse, but refused to let him wear her hat.
The hat would have been important and might have saved him because he lost his 4-year-old dignity when he fell off the heels and crashed his head into the foundation of our house. He claims he bled profusely and wound up with the terrible scar. I maintain he moved the house several inches off the foundation and scared me to death by bleeding all over the dress.
In that same period of time, my parents took us with them to see a movie titled “The Lost Weekend” about an alcoholic. In their defense I don’t think either of us really got much out of the movie. However, there was one scene that was forever emblazoned in my brother’s little brain. The star of the movie hid a bottle of liquor in a chandelier.
That Christmas Santa brought Dave’s toy milk truck, complete with little bottles. When it came up missing a few weeks later, Dave swore I hid it in our chandelier. Now I ask you, would a 10-year-old big sister hide her dear little brother’s toy truck in a chandelier?
Well, I can assure you this sister would not. The chandelier was in the middle of the room, hanging from a 10-foot-tall ceiling with nothing under it but the floor, and I have always had a serious fear of heights.
Even after we both grew up, he continued to manufacture tales about my mistreatment of him. We visited him during one of the classes he was teaching at a college in Dallas, Texas. His introduction of me included the charge that when he was born I was his older sister, but somehow over the years I had become his younger sister. He claimed he really didn’t understand how that happened.
Enough is enough. Students present or not, it was time to respond to one of his ridiculous charges. I looked at his students and explained. “I always was better at math than he was.” Even that didn’t slow him down.
So the brother-sister battles continue, and we both enjoy them tremendously. I can only hope my own children can enjoy such “battles” for all of their lives.
Author’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Sept. 24, 2003.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.