"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Thursday, April 8, 2010

On sisters and brothers and ... brothers and sisters

I've talked about siblings before on Ye Olde El-Jay (if you are unfamiliar with Ye Olde El-Jay, don't even bother asking, because I don't give that shit out anymore. trust me, everyone's better off this way.), but I'm feeling the urge to bring it up again. Y'know, because I'm lame about my siblings.

See, here's the thing: I'm not entirely sure anyone, anywhere, period, has a similar sibling relationship. Most people have one or two siblings, three max, and as a result can afford the luxury of saying "my sister" and assuming everyone knows who they're talking about, because they only have one sister. Me? I gotta use names, straight up, as soon as I meet you, or pretty soon you're going to be royally confused -- and by "pretty soon" I mean as soon as I use all of the following sentences in the span of about 5 minutes:
  1. I was talking to my sister the other day, and she told me the Navy won't authorize new glasses because there's no date on the prescription she got in boot camp.

  2. My sister was dating this South African guy for a while but now I guess they're just friends with benefits?

  3. I can't believe the goddamn Air Force is making me fucking register before they'll let me on base to see my sister graduate boot camp.

  4. My sister called me a slutbag when I told her I'd made out with over 30 individuals, and told me kissing was gross, so I had to point out that she'd never actually done it and therefore didn't know what she was talking about.

Yes, those are four separate individuals. These examples aren't nearly as indicative of the mass confusion I've occasionally wrought on friends and neighbors through omitting names, but they'll do.

So there's that. I have a lot of siblings (4 sisters and 2 brothers, if you cared.), so I deal with certain logistical considerations that are absent from most sibling relationships. (In case you were making the reasonable assumption that it's difficult to keep track of who said what to whom in my family, it's actually not -- not remotely. more on that later.)

Next: I've noticed that people with few siblings tend to have more concentrated relationships with them. By that, I mean that if you have just one sister, you're more likely to either be

  1. Best friends, or

  2. Mortal enemies who still probably love each other.

Either she's your rock, your fortress, the one person you can't live without, or she's the bane of your existence and you've been competing for the affection of your parents your entire lives. Either way, you're more likely to have extremely focused sets of ongoing fights, private jokes, or continuous annoyances.

Whereas I have four sisters, so everything gets spread out. If I fight with one sister, that leaves three I'm not fighting with; I will fight with the others at some point in the future, but the odds of fighting with all of them at the same time are extremely low. Hence, fewer fights per head at any given moment. Additionally, if I'm just cruisin' for a bruisin' and take it out on whoever I happen to run into first (let's face it, this happens a lot in sibling fights), the odds of that person being the same person every single time I'm cruisin' for a bruisin' are also quite low. It's impossible to be mad at everyone at the same time; it just takes a lot of energy and effort and nobody wants to do that. It's a lot easier to be generically angry at one sibling.

And we don't hold on to grudges. Sure, we've got private jokes that literally span decades, but fights? We don't have time for that shit. You fuck up, you apologize, you move on. There are too many of us to hold on to that sort of thing if we still want to all hang out, and there are few things more enjoyable and fulfilling than hanging out with all of my siblings at the same time.

Additionally, starting out with so many siblings allows for a "the more, the merrier!" kind of attitude. There are already so many of us that we have no problem "adopting" new sisters and brothers. As of this writing, I can think of at least 8 unrelated girls/women and 3 unrelated boys/men that my mom is willing to introduce as "one of my other daughters/sons", either because of her direct relationship with them or their friendship with -- and subsequent frequent geographical association with -- one of her biological children. (note: none of these adopted siblings got that way by being solely my friend, as i was a rather unsociable child and upon reaching adulthood have continued to refrain from including my friends in my parents' lives.)

Maybe you'll never truly understand, but I suppose that's ok. I'll just keep blathering on about it, and perhaps someday you'll get an inkling.

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