As the Girl in a Brother’s Band

Brick

I love sleeping in. I find great joy in slowly awakening as dreams naturally transition out and reality fades back into consciousness. No alarm jolting this progression with immediacy. Just a soft, gentle stirring when my body whispers, “ok we have now fully recharged, let’s go boss.”

Saturdays have largely been removed from the ranks of restful slumber, as I have spent the last several months training for a marathon and it’s too damn hot to run 10+ miles in San Diego’s late morning/afternoon. It’s not so bad though, I can normally get up around 8:30am to meet my small running crew on time, and these days I consider that sleeping in.

However last Saturday, my dream-filled state was slapped into reality by the hand of my cell phone, as over and over again it was blowing up with texts around 6:00am.

Rolling over with as much urgency as I could muster, I tried to silent the inconsiderate device. I vowed that heads were gonna roll if someone wasn’t on fire and somewhat within driving distance so that I could actually do something about it. Thoughts of burning buildings flashed through my mind as I fumbled over my nightstand trying not to knock over my water glass.

Once I finally got to the obnoxious little computer, I discovered no such emergency. Turned out instead World War III was in full effect as my brothers, who so thoughtfully included me on a group text message thread, were ferociously assailing unspeakable insults towards each other. Name calling, personal attacks, and thoughtless verbal canonballs were hurled back and forth with only seconds between each injurious message.

The first thing I did was lay back down, slap my hand to my forehead and groan. “What a bunch of babies,” I said out loud to the empty room. It was a group message that included my three brothers and myself, two of whom were in the middle of this bloodless battle.

I’m more or less used to this behavior by now. So I sent a couple of texts calling for peace, but my efforts were, as usual, ignored. Each of the fighting brothers felt their words, texted with about as much thought as it takes to realize a poopy diaper smells like poo, were valid. Both felt justified tearing down the other mercilessly in front of me and my other brother, who surprisingly wasn’t involved in the fighting whatsoever.

It was an annoying way to start the morning to say the least. After spending a few hours trying to sort them out, the brothers concluded the conversation by blocking the other’s messages and vowing never to speak again. With a sigh, I went on my 12 mile run with friends at 9:00, but it was clouded by the negativity I experienced that morning. I felt sickened and sad, crippled with worry that either or both of today’s foes were sitting at home alone, severely wounded. What I hated most was that there was nothing I could do to stop it and had no real way to fix it.

Why is family such a pain in the ass? I remember when I was little and my Mom would tuck me into bed, she’d always tell me to be grateful for my brothers. Some nights I agreed with her, others I stuck my tongue out and wished they were sisters. You can borrow sister’s clothes. There are only so many options when it comes to your brother’s clothes, and a lot of those clothes are jerseys, and most jerseys are never washed. And that’s just gross, so I was shit out of luck and had to fend for myself with my own wardrobe. Regardless, she always said, “The best gift that I could give to my children was each other.”

Oh brother [cheap pun, sorry, couldn’t help myself].

I figured that every family must be this way. Family = fight, fun, football, being funny, folk music. My immediate world was comprised of us four siblings, my three brothers and myself. I have a half sister as well but she is a bit older and tends to stay out of the drama, probably because she knows the rest of us are morons. So between the remaining 4 of us, we definitely have the most fun together I have ever had in my life, but that’s when we are all getting along. There is unfortunately always a pair in our group who are either not speaking, pulling each other’s eyebrows out, or talking shooby behind another’s back. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and you would think we were the cast of Mean Girls thrown in a martini glass with the Real Housewives.

This is because my brothers and I have a real gift. We have earth-shattering tempers, not measurable by the Richter scale but will likely be responsible when California finally breaks from the main land and drifts off to sea. Through the same vein we also love each other with the same intensity. We didn’t have the easiest collective childhood, and often times all we had were each other. I have distinct memories with each of them individually, holding each other sobbing to get through the latest of round life’s nonsense. So when I moved out of the house and went on to college, I carried with me this love, the temper, the ability to hold my own in a house of 3 boys, and a pretty good sense of humor. These were the ingredients required to survive as an Erdmann.

I came to find out that the temper doesn’t go over well in the real world. Apparently people don’t like it when you yell at them. Shouldn’t they just yell right back and you both hug later and then get some ice cream? Guess not. I got in trouble those early years for behaving like a pugilist, and learned fairly quickly that whoever yells the loudest is not the one who necessarily wins the battles.

For some reason, gosh I have no idea how it became an interest of mine, I got into rhetorical studies and focused on argumentation strategies. I was really into learning karate for words, and have spent most of my years in formal study honing how to craft a logical argument and effectively express my ideas.  I wanted to be able to communicate better with my brothers and create a more conducive environment to healthy discussion.

Some of the first times that I would come home, I’d take my suitcase of words and try them out on my family. Surely this new briefcase of tools would help us communicate better. I outgrew my Mother’s vocabulary by the time I was 15, but I was excited that my brothers would be proud of how calm I was and had tactful ways for us to get along with each other.

Yeah, no.

Apparently when you go back home, you resume the same position you always had. I’ve come to realize that no matter where I go in life, no matter what I’ve learned or how ever-so-wise I’ve become, I am always the baby sister to my two older brothers. To my younger brother, I will always be his bossy big sister, and he will always be my best friend (it’s not that I play favorites, it’s just that he’s my favorite).

I realize also now that not every family is like mine. My last few boyfriends all, oddly enough, had probably the sweetest families that exist on this whole fucking planet. They never EVER fight, cry every time they leave each other, and have deep bonds with each other built on a solid foundation of cotton candy, pillow fights and Lucky Charms cereal.  I love them all dearly to this day but come on…not ONE argument? Suspicious.

But I used to get jealous when I met families like that. And I would really wish I had a sister a lot of times growing up. But, I have my three goofy brothers, and I guess my Ma is right…they are a blessing.  I don’t think any quadra-sibling unit has ever been through as much as we have together, and I wouldn’t trade those silly monsters for anyone else on earth. It would be nice though if one of them were a cross-dresser and happened to be my size, it really would be lovely to share a closet with a sibling and double my wardrobe.

For those of you that don’t have siblings, I’m sure you have friends that pretty much are. And for those that do have siblings, you likely have some crazy-ass stories that likely directed what you studied in school and who you are today.  I think we should all be grateful for whatever situation we happen to be in. So in conclusion of last Saturday and many of the wars of our past, this song makes me think of my beloved brothers today. “So brother, raise another pint!…I still look out for you no matter what you’ve heard…I know there [are] better brother[s] but you’re the only one[s] that [are] mine.”

Love you all, Choey