"You have four older brothers? And you're the only girl?! You must have been so spoiled growing up! Were you their little princess?"
I get this a lot. Clearly from people who did not grow up with four older brothers. I dont know where they get the idea that I had a fairy tale childhood just because there were four boys in my house. I mean seriously, think about that image. A house full of stinky socks, stinky boys, and stinky athletic equipment. I now know where I get my super sensitive sense of smell.
I called them "the boys". To this day I still do. And I'm not saying the boys didn't spoil me in some ways. I was theirs, in a sense, and they made sure I was included in almost everything. They celebrated every first - first new teeth, first day of school, first dance recital. They created my own corner in the basement and made all of my birthday parties the event of the season. They let me hang out with their friends, and taught me all about sports. In many ways, the boys raised me.
But boys will be boys - so my fairy tale is definitely a fractured one. They tormented my friends - especially those that were unfortunate enough to develop crushes on them. They tickled me until I cried, or wet myself, whichever came first. They insisted that I needed a bra for my knees since they stuck out more than any future breasts ever possibly could. I was their personal slave - it was my job to change the channel (no remote control back then, but then again, only about four channels to choose from), to keep them fed and watered, to never ever tattle, and to run all over the house to find whatever it was they couldn't find at a given time. It should also be mentioned that I have had long nails since I was a toddler because my brothers told me the only reason I had been brought into the house was to scratch their backs.
I say brought into the house, and not born, for a reason. I don't remember exactly when it happened, but there came a time when I was very young that my brothers felt the need to reveal the truth to me. I was not, in fact, their real sister. I had been adopted. When I was just a baby, a policeman found me abandoned in a basket and brought me to the house. He felt our family would be perfect since there were only boys, and these boys clearly needed a little sister to scratch their backs and do their bidding. It was important for me to be good, or the police officer would have to come back and find me a family to live with up in Atlantic City.
The policeman's name was Officer Krupke.
For years I would pout whenever the dreaded Officer Krupke was brought up. It can't be true! I had heard the stories about when I was born from my mom. How she could hear the Miss America parade going on from her hospital room when she was waiting for me to arrive. How the whole town made a fuss because finally a girl was born. How the prim and proper lady across the street came running over in her nightgown when she heard the big news. My brothers, the big poopyheads, had to be lying.
I remember in vivid detail when my brothers told me that a very special movie was going to be on television that night and that we would all be watching together. My parents said I could stay up late to see the whole thing, and I was very excited. I brushed my teeth and put on my pajamas and went downstairs to the living room. My brothers seemed to be more excited than I was, and they took great pains to make sure that they were all sitting around me when the opening credits of West Side Story came on.
I loved it. The singing, the dancing, the fighting! It was enthralling! How cool of my brothers to make sure I didn't miss this! I don't recall how far into the movie it was when I heard the Jets break into the famous Gee Officer Krupke song. I just remember that when the boys - who had been waiting for this moment for most of my life - saw the recognition in my face, and heard me scream "HEY!!!!!! That's Officer Krupke!!!!!" - they finally knew what it was like when they tickled me.
Krup you boys.