Monday, November 10, 2008

Family Resemblance

My brother and I have a funny history. When we were very, very young we shared a bathroom, which lasted briefly because of my propensity to completely dominate space and takeover every inch of counter available. My curling irons and expanding need for both personal and closet space edged him out of his room and to one down the hall when we were still in elementary school; it was just better that way for sibling relations.

We are only 20 months apart, and after celebrating his most recent birthday, we are currently in the four month gap where our ages reflect only a year in difference, 22 and 23, respectively. My not-so-baby brother is now a senior in college at UT. Growing up we ended up with several family friends with similar-aged kids, and I met some of my closest friends while our brothers played little league games together. Having a sister my age and a brother his age were nearly prerequisites to hanging out with my family.

The day we discovered him to be taller than me was a turning point, and from that point on we've always appeared to be of a comparable age. I should also mention that, to the untrained eye and especially to anyone who has never met our parents, our likeness is not obvious. Our coloring is completely different- he has blonde hair, blue eyes and is tall with fairer skin which he got from my mom. I have brown hair, brown eyes more and "olive" skin (whatever that means- I'm not green or anything), which I got from my dad. We actually have similar smiles and noses and mannerisms, but those are things people who know us would gather. Obviously too, he is male, I am female, which has been the root of many misunderstandings over the years.

It all started in middle school, when I was in 8th grade and he was in 6th grade, and I was hanging out with some cheerleader friends waiting in the carpool line for my ride. My brother approached me to tell me he had tennis practice and left promptly for the gym. One of the girls I was standing with, who I didn't know very well, immediately steered my elbow out of earshot and started the interrogation: "Who was that? He.Is.So.Cute. Is he your boyfriend or something? What's his name?" Little did I know this would only be the beginning. "That's L," I answered, "he's not my boyfriend, he's my brother."

Of course it didn't end there.

His freshman year of college, I made the hour and change drive over to Austin to meet up with he and my parents for his first fraternity Parents' Weekend. We were finishing lunch, he offered to get me a drink, and after about 10 minutes of waiting I decided to go find one myself. I walked out into the backyard, where the bar was, and immediately saw my brother's back as he was surrounded by a gaggle of young sorority girls. "Of course that's why he went missing," I thought, smirking to myself. I called his name and walked up next to him, and he whirled around to say "Oh hey! I forgot about your drink..." and I looked past him to see four pairs of eyes glaring darts at me. I was completely confused.

Their expressions transformed to feigned indifference as he turned back to them, ushering me forward and said "hey, this is my sister A, she's a Chi-O at A&M!" Like a light-switch, their demeanors changed. "Omigosh! For real?!" they squealed, "L didn't tell us his sister was a Chi-O! So nice to meet you!" I smiled, introduced myself and forgot their names immediately after they had been spoken. At that point I excused myself to get a beer and walked back inside. They had initially percieved me to be a threat, which explained the death glares. Not the best of first impressions... let's just say he never ended up dating any of them.

The best, though, was the trip my brother and I took to London. I flew in from Germany, after my summer abroad, and he flew in from Dallas to meet me for a week. When we arrived at our hotel, the front desk attendant asked for the name on our reservation, so I told her and continued my conversation with L, trying to decide our plan for the rest of the day. She interrupted, confused at the request on the reservation. "And you wanted *two* beds?..." she asked. "Yes that's right" I said, thinking "of course we want two beds, lady." She shook her head and continued typing, and finally said "okay Mr. H and Mrs. H, here are your room keys." I couldn't correct her because I would have started laughing in her face, but I couldn't keep myself from giggling audibly before we got to the elevator. "We have the same last name, so she assumed we were married" I said, the humor of which was lost on L, who was jet-lagged and carrying my bags.

It's come in handy over the years, I must say, to have a him as a brother. Whether on a beach in Playa del Carmen, a pub in London or in a crowded bar in New York, I can always ensure I'll be left alone if I'm talking to the guy with the great hair and the deep, bellowing voice (just like Dad's). He taught me how to play Craps, and I showed him a thing or two about how to match belts and shoes. What else is family for, anyway?

"Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply..."
-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

1 comment:

Sindhu said...

Wandered over here -- nice entry! I liked the pictures that went along with the post as well. :)