Thank you all for your kind words about my dad. Not to mention your words of condolences for my brother's coin collection. But do not cry for James, as it turns out neither his nor my mom remembers that I stole all his valuable coins. Which is a tad disappointing, frankly. Do you mean to tell me that my childhood antics left little to no lasting impact? What am I, if not the scars I left on my siblings?
HERE IS ANOTHER STORY NO ONE REMEMBERS
My brother can't be more than 9 years old in this memory, which would make me around 5. He is in the kitchen getting a stern talking-to by my mother. Something he did made me cry, which was not hard to do in those days (and is still, incidentally, not hard to do). Maybe he scoffed at my doll house, or failed to inordinately praise one of my drawings.
They are both sitting at the kitchen table, my mother's back to me. I creep into the hallway to gloat at my brother's sadness. *Yes, mother, make him cry for once. Make him the one who cries! *As she is explaining the duties of an older brother to a younger sister and how he must always love everything I say or do (she probably didn't say this part but that's definitely what I heard), I gave him the finger.
"She just gave me the finger," he informs our mother, who then says, without turning around to witness me holding up said finger, "Well, James, who do you think she learned that from?"
And it was at that moment that I realized the full extent of my power, as the youngest child. Everything I did or said was the product of my older siblings—thus, I would be forever blameless. LO, I thought, THERE IS NOTHING I CANNOT DO, I AM LIKE UNTO A GOD. I beamed at him and he stared back at me, utterly bereft and betrayed, and it was the happiest moment of my life.
I mentioned this story over Thanksgiving and James claimed he didn't remember it—which was, again, thoroughly disappointing. I WAS DEVASTATING, DAMN IT. I left a mark!
IN OTHER NEWS
Some of you have inquired as to the status of my family, since you haven't heard from me in a while. For all you know Henry could have joined the circus (do people still do that?) and Scott could have run off with the UPS guy (I see them making eyes at each other). I am pleased to report that we are still a single unit—no one has demanded to be set free from their familial contract. We've won! And Henry is now 16, which means there is nothing I can write or say about him that wouldn't be the worst thing ever, Mom, don't even say my name without my permission. So I won't tell you a thing except that when he looks at his mom and dad, this is what he sees. (With slightly less pill-popping.)
Which is as it should be, really. One bit of parental wisdom I have gleaned from dealing with a teenager: you cannot be the cool parent, so don't even try. And anyway, the cool parents are all Juuling with their kids or whatever. And who needs the nicotine monkey on their backs?
I will admit that I've tried to impress him with how cool I secretly am, but, as expected, my feeble attempts have backfired. I showed him this video I made for work about getting too high—look, Mom has a cool job!—but mostly he was disappointed that I wasn't seeing direct returns from it. "Your video has almost two million views," he observed. "You're not getting a cut of the ad revenue?"
"No, dear, but I have a regular salary. And hey look someone in the comments called me a GMILF. And I know what that means. High five!"
"Please never say those words again."
He's secretly proud, though, I can tell. Not about the GMILF thing, that's gross.