My little sister turned 21 today. Jesus, that is weird even typing it.
When she was born our parents gave my brothers and I a few model rockets to assemble in the hopes that we’d be so involved we wouldn’t notice that we hadn’t been fed or washed. Or maybe the mini explosives were there to distract us from the fact that males were about to be a little less of a majority around the house.
Kathryn Anne. She was the only sibling of mine not to get family name stuck in the middle. Sutherland, Cole, Brewster and Anne. Things were definitely changing. There were two women to contend with now and the old way of doing things was about to fly out the window.
Not that my mother isn’t formidable alone, far from it. I’ve seen her stare down entire plot lines on disagreeable television shows. No, the new female in our lives was going to bring a softness we’d been missing. Whereas before we were the rough and tumble wrestlers on the threadbare carpet under the dining room table, with Kathryn Anne we would be the stuffed doll tea party next to my parents’ bed.
In the years before my little sister showed up I spent my time going from one mess to another, always seeming to find a way to make myself dirty and unkempt. It was this state of constant scuffing and smearing that prompted my mother to nickname me, “Smudge.” There would be no more of that now, there was a lady present, I had to look respectable.
The Transformers and GI Joe VHS tapes my brothers and I memorized would fade into the back of the television cabinet. Their bootlegged labels fading and peeling off as they were transferred from incorrect sleeve to incorrect sleeve. There would be no room at the front with all the new Disney movies. The Little Mermaid doesn’t want to sit next to Roadblock or Grid Iron, she’s a Mermaid, you idiot.
The boys club that had started tens years ago with my brother at the house on Cemetery Road was closing its charter. There were two women to contend with now. And this new one was too cute to disobey, she seemed to telepathically command you to both adore and protect her. We were to stop being selfish little boys and start being men of honor, at least when they were around.
Maybe it was because of the recognition that our chauvinist lifestyle was about to change that after having taken one glance at her in the stained oak rocker on the living room floor that I gave her the only name I’ve ever called her… “Toots.”
Happy Birthday, Toots.