Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Sandiegomomma challenges us to WRITE with PROMPTuesday.

Today's prompt: "write a character sketch of someone you love (child, partner, pet, mentor, etc.). Detail this person, let us see him or her through your description. Maybe you want to “show” your loved one through action and movement, or perhaps you are viewing him or her in repose. Either way, get down to brass tacks and give us the one you love through your writing."

S. and me, before the twins arrived.

I am the oldest child in my family. I have three brothers. Brother S. was born after me, and the two of us shared toddlerhood, toys, rides to day-camp. We both vied for our Daddy's attention. And we shared dismay and consternation when my mother brought home G. and B. - Twin boys, eclipsing us in our parents' eyes.

The twins. Not sure who's who.

As the oldest, I pretty much had my say about how things went. I could boss them around when I wanted to, and hide in my room when I wanted to. S. and B. tacitly acknowledged my authority, but G. - ah, G. defied me. We interacted like oil and water, oil and vinegar, never mixing, always remaining in a suspended emulsion that, uneasily, often broke down as one fluid sought to rise above or engulf the other.

As kids, we knew exactly how to annoy each other. I smacked him down, but he popped back up again and again. He sassed and danced in like a wasp, stinging and flying away. I called him names, I called him FAT - he wasn't, but he was just a bit huskier than his twin and S. and I were skinny as rails. He had a nickname for me that still causes me to cringe if I hear it. We knew exactly what hurt, so finely tuned were our antennae toward one another.

This is B. on the left and G. on the right. I think. It's hard to tell them apart in this picture.

As we grew up, my brothers all grew bigger than me. I still retained the air of authority, but only because they granted it to me - like any aging, weakened monarch, I accepted my role as Older Sister and didn't overstep, and my brothers respected me for it. A few spats here and there to spice things up, but we had wisely achieved detente.

Smarts run in my family. Sometimes the gene manifests itself in intellectual brilliance - that's my Mom, Dad, and S. and B. Sometimes it's just Smarty Pants. That's me and G.

Not too many families can boast multiple PhD.'s - my family of six has three.

But I only managed to skip, coast and bumble my way through a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. G. dropped out of college, and didn't get his degree until much later in life. He worked in bike shops and industrial plants. I scuffled in Off-Broadway theatres in New York, and then became a union worker in Seattle. In my family, G. and I were the slackers, the blue-collar workers, the bums. The ones who liked to drink a little too much, the ones who had the crazy friends, the wild stories. The ones with big dogs, broke-down cars, the ones Dad slipped twenties to, the ones who barely got out of trouble by the skin of our teeth.

Of all of us, G. and I are most like Dad. I was Daddy's little girl, his first child; I could do no wrong in his eyes even while he and I argued and shouted at one another during my teenage years. And when G. settled down from his wild, wild ways, he followed a path more closely modeled after Dad's life than any of us. He married and raised a family; he became a businessman and a manager, like Dad.

I have no idea what's happening in this picture. G. is about 21. Dad is quite obviously playing to the camera.

When I see my brother G. today, even though he and brother B. are identical twins, it's G. that reminds me of our Dad. His expression, his posture, his sense of humor - yes, even the occasional sour cynicism Dad indulged in - the set of his jaw. The way he tells jokes. The pride he take in his own kids.

As for me, I visited a relative I hadn't seen in several decades, shortly after my Dad had passed away. When she opened the door to greet me, she gasped. "Why, g," she said. "You surely favor your father!"

Now, when I look in the mirror, I see my Dad looking back at me. And when I look at my brother G., I see him too. We are the most like Dad - funny, irreverent, cynical, irritable, quick to anger, quick to forgive - maddening, without a doubt, to those who love us.

This autumn, G. and I shared a road trip, traveling with our Mom to her new home. And although road trips tend to strengthen bonds between people, I think the one we already shared was pretty strong.

B., S., g., and G. I'm about 17, so B. & G. are 13

And don't you bug me about this, or I'm telling Mom.


mo.stoneskin said...

That was a fascinating read, a lovely post, what a great way to start my wednesday, thanks for sharing it :)

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

Oh, just the best post, and even better pics!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

What Gary said.


Really? Nobody in your family knows what's up with the phone/steering wheel(?) photo?


Crystal said...

That was great...I'm trying not to let the little tears that collected in my eyes spill over (cuz I'm at work you know...and it's just not professional).

I too have 4 children..all girls though...and at times, I wonder if the fighting will ever stop and they will form a great bond at some point. Your story gives me hope. :)

Me said...

Great story!

cactus petunia said...

I loved that. It's pretty amazing how much alike siblings can be...is your brother G more like you, or like his twin?

San Diego Momma said...

I love that you picked your brother for this.

I had a very similar relationship with my brother (I was also the oldest girl) and i think you've inspired a future post for me.


Shayla said...

That was great!!

Woman in a Window said...

There is so much about this I love. I love all the pictures but especially the ones of the twins (I know, they're still stealing the lime light) because not only are twins interesting but they are gorgeous!

And then this,"We interacted like oil and water, oil and vinegar, never mixing, always remaining in a suspended emulsion that, uneasily, often broke down as one fluid sought to rise above or engulf the other." Fricken brillinat.

And then the last shot of you flanked by your brothers. I can't imagine. What a gift!

JCK said...

I love these stories of yours. Most especially of your earlier life. They leap off the page.

Also liked the last photo!