I met a set of triplets on Saturday night. This was a 1 in almost 8 thousand chance (I know this because I googled it at the time) so I felt compelled to make the most of the opportunity and ask silly questions. I bypassed the predictable ESP related scenarios and got to the more practical issues.
The sibling hierarchy truisms held firm. The two elder triplets felt the the youngest was the favourite and got away with everything. The eldest carried the burden of responsibility. The middle triplet felt she was often overlooked. Frugal parents made sure the middle triplet dreaded the forced entitlement of hand-me-downs. Everything was either too big or too small.
This discussion was jovial in nature and despite the spot-fire arguments that ensued, it was very apparent how close these sisters were. In their mid 20s, they were currently house hunting in the hope that they could continue living together.
I’m familiar with the almighty triangular prime number. It’s a dynamic I understand well having grown up with two older siblings and often share-housing with two other housemates. Arguments come down to allegiances, loyalty is a mythical concept and a swing vote can ruin your week or ignite a victory dance.
Whilst it was only 9 minutes that separated these triplets, 9 years was the spread with me, and my older brother and sister. I found that this was the length of a full fashion cycle, because my brother’s hand-me-downs were so old that they were resurgently cool again thanks to vintage retro appeal.
Others will relate to the inclination of modelling your life on your older brother’s. Admittedly, It’s a pretty sweet ride. A lot of spectating and learning takes place. You get to work out the two standard deviations (within the mean) of behaviour that you can get away with. You don’t have to endure the coming-of-age mistakes firsthand, and your folks have softened in their older age by the time you host your first forbidden house party. It also helped that my brother was the only child that burnt the kitchen down.
His interests were a blueprint for my life. We share the same sense of humour and nearly every hobby that I nurture stems from his strong influence or direct tutoring. He taught me algebra when I was 9, got me into NWA when I was 10 and showed me how to play Wonderwall when I was 11. These were obviously formative years in my life.
It wasn’t all blue skies though. He once dacked me in front of all my friends. He also took a hanger frisbee grab over me during a friendly game of ultimate on what was supposed to be a family bonding holiday. I have never beaten him at table tennis and he still mops the floor with me on guitar.
My brother has just gone through a pretty challenging year. I felt helpless as a younger sibling, knowing that almost a decade of life experience separates relavent advice to what I could offer. But while we mightn’t have shared a womb concurrently Phil, I want you to know that you’ll always be the Arnold Schwarzenegger to my Danny DeVito.