“WHAT?” I’m annoyed with Janet anyway, just out of principle, but this is just too much. “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”
Janet chuckles, raising my ire even further. She’s older than me by three years and always acts like it. She’s the wiser one, the better one, the patronizing one.
I don’t respond. She orders me a gift subscription to the magazine every year, and when it arrives each month, I give it to my neighbor. In my sister’s profession as a family therapist, she’s always trying to “fix me” in one way or the other.
Janet ignores my non-response and continues. Of course. “Some of it has to do with birth order. I’m the first, so I take charge and go bully on.”
“Well, yes, that fits,” I reply with not a little disgruntlement.
“And the second child in line tends to be more submissive, docile, and just go with the flow,” she continues
I happen to know this is a blatant lie. But it’s obvious that Janet is trying (and succeeding) to push my buttons. So I’m going to push back.
“Well, we second-in-lines are certainly people-pleasers,” I say. “And peacemakers. That’s why we’re usually the favored child, as well as the one more successful with friendships and relationships. So, Sis, get it out. What am I too polite about?”
Janet takes in a breath, and I can imagine her sitting in her cushy office chair, large windows letting in airy light, waiting for her next client to push the button from the waiting room to pay Janet for her “bon mots.” Lucky me, I get it for free.
“You know that Randy is not the right guy for you. You’re not in love with him, yet you allow the relationship to go on and on. But you’re too polite to break up with him.”
Silence over the phone, although I’m sure she can hear my seething breath. Her audacity! Randy is the best man I’ve ever dated, and I’ve dated enough to make her extremely jealous over the 34 years we’ve known each other. Randy is a project manager for a construction firm (not in the high academic clouds where Janet looks for her lovers). He’s gorgeously molded into 175 pounds of hunk, with ginger hair that falls in his eyes when he’s tired, scars on his fingers, and one big huge heart.
So I play along with her. “What do you think I should do?” I ask her as if I care.
“It’s time to upgrade, Martha,” Janet suggests.
I gasp and reply, “I strongly disagree, Sis. But at least I know you won’t be disappointed when I inform you that Randy and I are eloping next Saturday, and no visitors are allowed.”