At age 13, I found bliss. Because, at that age, there’s nothing better than having leverage on an older sibling.
I have three sisters. They’re all older. So I was the only boy and the youngest, which meant trouble.
My next-oldest sister was the object of my discovery: I realized that I could drive her crazy by posing as a statue.
Seriously. A statue. Like the Statue of Liberty. Or the Sphinx.
Or Michael Spinks, in that fight against Mike Tyson.
Routinely, I would start to say something, then pause and freeze. And hold it while my sister got mad.
You know those guys who pose as statues on Pier 39? They’ve got nothing on me. They get money from generous passers-by, but I got angry outbursts from my sister, which was better than money or even baseball cards.
My sister and I were pretty close. We still are – she lives in Vallejo and we see each other often. We never had a fierce rivalry, although a dark episode from my early childhood – involving her making my stick horse into a “bridge” between our twin beds, then bouncing on it until it broke – strained our relationship for years. It occasionally comes up in family conversations (OK, it always comes up and I’m always the one who brings it up. It pained me.).
Still, when I discovered that I could walk into a room where she was watching TV (perhaps a soap opera, perhaps “The Love Boat” or “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Perhaps something else.) and get her infuriated by merely striking a pose, it was awesome. It didn’t require me to say anything. I didn’t have to get between her and the 13-inch screen. I just posed (had I been born 15 years later, I would have been doing a “Vogue”) and waited.
Inevitably, she’d get angry. She’d shout at me. She’d tell me how stupid I was. Ultimately, she would walk over and push me, making me break the pose.
And I would then continue, as if I didn’t know I’d posed. It was a hilarious comedy bit where time stood still for me, but not for her.
It’s simple and it’s stupid.
But it was brilliant.
Decades later, when I see my sister, I occasionally break into the pose. I’ll tell her something new, get partway through, and freeze.
She laughs about it, but inside, I know the truth.
It still bugs her. And if it was socially acceptable, she would still push me.
There is still – decades after I discovered the secret – something magical about being able to irritate a sibling on demand.
If my older sister reads this, I hope she knows that despite all the problems I cause her, I still lo . . .
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.