The Washington Times-Herald

March 6, 2014

The pen is mightier than the sibling

The Washington Times-Herald

---- — GD (Grand Dad) came to town for a visit recently and before he left I heard him ask Ava if she would to write something for his newspaper back home. She said she would but I could tell by the look on her face that she didn’t really want to. She was probably just sucking up to GD – something she’s pretty good at I might add.

Writing is hard and Ava, not unlike a lot of little kids, would rather sit in front of the TV with Doc McStuffins and Daniel Tiger than do anything resembling actual work. Having lived with her for the past nine months I’m keenly aware of this tendency so I put my knowledge of American Literature to good use and proceeded to play her for a fool. My name is Justus by the way, and I am Ava’s little brother.

I was gnawing on a piece of apple one day and saw her at her little desk, staring off into space, muttering mild, infantile obscenities under her breath. Writer’s block I quickly deduced. I’ve seen it before. So I crawled over and asked her what she was working on.

“Work?” she said coyly, as I predicted she might. (We both read Twain you see.) “What do you call work?”

“Writing,” I replied.

“Why, writing isn’t work,” she said. “It suits me. Does a girl get a chance to write every day?”

Of course that’s when I knew I had her in the palm of my hand. “Say sis”, I suggested, “why don’t you let me write a while?”

“Well, I don’t know…”, she pretended to protest. “GD is awful particular about…”

“Ah, he’ll never know the difference,” I persisted. “I’ll even give you my apple. Just let me try. Maybe writing will suit me too.”

The apple was brown and wet with slobber so she declined it but did surrender the writing desk. Then she walked off and plopped herself down in front of the TV. Which is how I came to control the pen in this instance and can now attempt to set the record straight.

I suppose people read my sister’s sometimes schmaltzy drivel in this space and ooh and aah and say things like oh my, she must be sooooo sweet, such a little darling. But as the old Gershwin standard says, “it ain’t necessarily so.” Sure, she can be charming at times, but believe me, she has a dark side as well. Is prone to fits and tantrums – senseless, often-horrifying outbursts mostly over stupid stuff.

Like shoes.

She’s got this pair of brown shoes she especially likes. I mean, you’d think they were a $500 pair of Gucci pumps the way she carries on about them. And if mom tells her to put on a different pair she’s apt to go ballistic: “No!” she’ll scream. “I don’t like other shoes! I want brown shoes!” The screaming escalates and persists; my nerves fray; my stomach spasms. She gets yelled at by mom or dad or both. Then she sulks. It all seems so trivial to me. So absurd. I guess its just part of the “terrible twos” as they say.

Dad took me aside after one such convulsion and explained that many women, for reasons mankind is yet to fully understand or explain, are simply obsessive about shoes and that the problem will likely get worse before it gets better.

And it’s not just shoes. She was wearing a new pair of stretch pants the other day and while we were playing Legos she stood up suddenly and asked, “Do these new pants make me look fat?”

What could I say? Some instinct deep inside me told me to say nothing, to pretend I hadn’t heard. So I turned from her and sped away as fast as my knees and palms would carry me to another part of the house.

But hey, let’s be fair. She’s not all bad. Once in a while she’ll tolerate me and actually play games with me. And she also taught me how to write which was pretty cool of her.

So thanks sis. See ya in the papers someday.

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