My brother Mallory Joe has always been one of my closest friends. He's my only sibling and I'm older by three years.
Growing up, friends teased us. They said it was weird that we got along so well. "Chrisy and Joey never fight. So weird." It was true - mostly. We generally got along and played well together as young kids, and as teenagers we were tight.
I attribute this NOT to any inherent kindness or gentleness within my brother Mallory Joe or me, but to Mother. On the occasion we had a kid fight, she would say and do the following:
- If we hit one another then tattled, Mom would say, "Chrisy, if you really need to hit your brother, go ahead. I'll just watch. Go on now. Hit him. What? You don't want to. Joey, maybe you'd like to hit your sister? Come on... let her have it." My brother Mallory Joe and I would look at each other like she was sooo stupid, and try not to laugh. It worked though.
She dramatically lectured us after each argument about how there's NO ONE in the ENTIRE world as close as siblings. The BLOOD that ran through our veins was sibling blood. Not even she and Dad were that close. NOTHING was more important than the relationship between siblings. The lecture was powerful every time I heard it.
- Mother always made us apologize, hug and say I love you. Always.
Except... for the times she wasn't there to lead us in a rousing rendition of Kumbaya. We relied on our training to find Shangri-La, and it usually went something like this...
[My brother Mallory Joe 17, me 19 (home from college for a weekend), ending an argument about something important like, what kind of drink he should (beer) or should NOT (a Blue Hawaiian - duh) order when I get he and his friends into a bar when they visit me at school and ALL sleep in my dorm room.]
Joe: You're just an uptight bitch!
Me: YOU'RE an uptight bitch!
Joe: Ha ha. Bitch.
Joe: You're an idiot.
Me: You're a bitch.
Joe: Wanna go sit on the swing set and have a cigarette?
Me: I don't have any.
Joe: I do.
Me: Okay... I'm sorry.
Joe. I'm sorry too.
We hug. My brother Mallory Joe gets the cigarettes and a lighter. We climb to the top of an old swing set in the backyard. It's dark. We sit quietly, and share one cigarette between the two of us.
Me: Are you sure the neighbors can't see us?
Joe: No. Just hide the cherry.
Joe: Hurry. Here they come.
Me: How can you tell?
Joe: I know their lights. Give me the smoke! Go!
I hand my brother Mallory Joe the cigarette, run inside the house, grab his Polo Cologne and spray it all over myself and him as he comes in the back door. We hear the garage door open. We frantically wash our hands, run to the couch, assume relaxed positions and turn on the Weird Science video we'd rented for the 10th time that year.
Mom and Dad walk in, smile at each other and say, "Isn't it nice to see the kids enjoying each other?"