I was looking through my old documents when I ran across a particular gem from my sophomore year of high school. My English teacher gave extra credit for occasional essays, and even more points if you read your essay aloud for the class.
One such topic was "something that is harder than it seems."
What follows is the tongue-in-cheek response I penned about my dearest of dear friends, my cherished big brother. And yes, all the anecdotes are true.
In an ideal world, I would be a normal person: average height, average weight, average looks. I would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go to school, and come home in the afternoon. My evenings would consist of doing my homework, relaxing a bit, and then going to bed. A simple life, one without complexities and stress; a life in which my immune system functioned properly and I got eight hours of sleep every night. My father would be a businessman who always wore a gray suit and carried a briefcase, eating his eggs and bacon in the morning before saying a cheerful goodbye to the family and going off to work. Mother would wear dresses that fall just below the knee with pristine high heels, and would always be vacuuming the house. Our pets would be clean and neat, with no shedding fur or skin problems. The cats wouldn't leave half-eaten animals on the door step and regurgitate their last meal on the welcome mat; the dogs wouldn't bark at the slightest hint of a rustle in the leaves, or paste muddy, wet noses all over your clean white pants. Of course, last but definitely not least, my brother would be a pleasant, enjoyable young man who spoke words of encouragement and wisdom to me, who helped me up when I fell, and was there for me in times of trouble.
Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. We have to take what is thrown at us and manage to the best of our abilities. Our families are dysfunctional and our animals are psychotic. We're always too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, or too something. I would say that life is harder than it looks, but that isn't the point of my paper. So, you say, quit babbling and get to the point.
My brother is two years and two months older than I, to the day. We share similar features such as brown hair, green eyes, and the same dental structure. We are both pianists, both sing, and both enjoy theatre. We watch the same kind of movies, read the same kind of books, and listen to the same kind of music. That is where the similarities end, however, because those of you who know us may not realize that living with my brother is harder than it seems.
Picture this: it's the end of a long, stressful day. You've changed into your pajamas and are settling down to relax in the blessed solitude of your bedroom when suddenly the door to the closet adjoining your room to your brother's swings open. In vaults a hunched over being with a crazed expression, gnarled hands, and a lump on his back. He bounds up to you, cackling maniacally and chomping on your arm. No big deal, however. It's only your brother.
Now, here's another mental image: you are sitting on your bed reading a particularly good book when a hard knock sounds on your bedroom door. A moment later, without being invited, in walks your brother. His hands are behind his back, hiding something. You ask him what he wants, but he ignores you and kneels down next to your bed. Whipping his hands up from behind his back, you see that he is holding two action figures from Star Wars: Episode I: Qui Gonn Jinn and Darth Maul. With a cameo appearance of his left hand as a sandworm, he proceeds to re-enact the famous desert scene from Frank Herbert's Dune when Jessica and Paul are running to find shelter. Once he has finished the scene, he gets up and walks out, leaving me alone once again.
I'll be the first to admit that these are some of the most extreme examples of his peculiarities; unfortunately, he banned me from mentioning the really funny ones in this paper. So now that we've gotten the stories aside, let me continue to explain why exactly living with my brother can be so hard.
It's six o'clock in the morning, and you are sleeping peacefully in your nice warm covers. Suddenly you are rudely awoken by the climax of Holst's Mars, Bringer of War, which is pounding through your wall at decibel levels that should be banned from society. When you yell at your brother through the door to turn down the music, he replies that such fine music can only be listened to at extreme volumes.
Twelve hours later, you have just crawled beneath your covers and turned off your lamp, ready to go to sleep. You close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly and steadily. You are teetering on the edge of unconsciousness. Suddenly the door slams open and the horrific fluorescent light comes on. You yell out terrible threats as you fumble to see who has dared disturb your slumber. It is your brother.
"What do you want?" you scream in rage, rational mind cloudy with sleepiness.
"Summer," he begins, "when was the last time you considered the beautiful irony of the Children's Crusade?" and he launches into one of his famously boring and long history lectures that, number one, I don't care about, and number two, I am exhausted. Yet, does he listen to my ravings and chanting of "get out"? Of course not. He continues with his lecture undaunted. Thankfully, the late-night lectures when I'm almost asleep are pleasantly rare. However, he does always manage to want to discuss the philosophy of a particular short story or poem in his English 102 literature book while I'm in the middle of geometry homework.
Okay, so maybe the facts that he's weird, long-winded, and annoying; sings in falsetto while taking a shower, and the only piano dynamic he knows is fortissimo can be over looked. Sure, everyone has their quirks, right? There is one feature my brother has that drives me to the brink of insanity, however, and that would be his fantastically large and well-groomed ego. Sometimes he'll come into my room for the sole reason to look at himself in my full-length closet mirrors. He'll turn from side to side, then say to me, "Summer, don't you wish that you had my dashing good looks, roguish charm, and rapier wit?" In this circumstance, I merely nod and indulge his fantasy.
Alas, there are not enough hours in the day to tell of my brother's conceit, and frankly I can not do it justice. I do hope, however, that this small glimpse into my life has shown you why exactly it is that living with my brother is harder than it looks.