He was my nemesis. His sole purpose for existence was to remind me of my stupidity and my sole purpose was to prove it. My brother, Corey, the only boy of my siblings, was two years older than me. I wanted to be just like him.
It was a hot July day in our small town. Corey and his friends were playing at a neighbor’s house, wearing only their cut-off jean shorts. Their tan, slim bodies soared through the yard, jumping and dodging with laughter and banter. I studied his actions carefully. On previous occasions, I had been known to scrutinize my body in the mirror to practice looking and acting as he did. ‘What must that feel like to not wear a shirt,’ I wondered as I looked down at my chest. That gave me an idea.
I ran home to my mom and begged her to let me shed my shirt as well.
“No, girls don’t do that,” she laughed at the ridiculous request.
“But why, Mom? I look the same as them,” I argued.
“Because you don’t want to show your boobies to the boys,” she said.
“But, I don’t have any boobies!” I yelled. “What’s the big deal?”
She repeatedly refused my wish to expose my breasts, which only aggravated my women’s liberation stance on the matter. She obviously favored my brother. I reminded her that my chest looked exactly like his and challenged her to explain the necessity for me to cover mine while he ran bare-chested for the world to see.
“Because you’re a girl!” is all she could come up with. I pressed on, knowing her argument was futile.
Finally, exhausted from defending her unjust ruling, she threw her hands in the air and conceded, “Just do it! Do whatever you want!” She was disgusted, but I didn’t allow her time to convince me of my poor judgment.
I raced to my bedroom, tore off my t-shirt, gave myself a quick check in the mirror to see if my masculinity rivaled that of my brother’s and bolted out the door. I hopped on my banana-seated bicycle and headed off to join the neighborhood gangsters.
“Yankee doodle went to town, riding on a pony,” I sang loudly as I pedaled freely up the asphalt street. I felt liberated, unchained from my biological expectations. As I approached the Harrison’s house about two blocks away, I found the boys engrossed in an intense game of freeze tag. I couldn’t wait to join them. Maybe they would finally take me seriously and treat me like an equal, instead of the pesky little sister who continually spoiled their fun. I jumped off of my bicycle, letting it fall to the ground, sailing into a nearby bush. I proudly approached the chain-link fence and was about to enter the manly zone, just as one of the boys noticed me.
“Oh God, Corey!” he yelled. “Look at your stupid sister! She’s showing us her titties!”
Horrified at the vision, my brother angrily yelled, “Go home! You can’t play with us!” Laughter filled the back yard as each boy stopped what they were doing and one-by-one, pointed and snickered at my bare chest. I felt tears forming in my eyes. I was stunned by their reaction. Was it possible that they, too, were unable to recognize the complete unfairness of the situation? Titties? I glanced down at my chest and saw only a thin, partially tanned ribcage, accented with small dark nipples that looked more like freckles than a distinction in my sexuality. If it wasn’t for the rainbow embroidered on my pocket, I could have easily been mistaken for a young boy.
I yanked my bicycle from the bushes, scraping my arms on the scratchy limbs, and raced toward home. I pedaled faster and faster. My vision was blurred from the salty, stinging tears, but it didn’t matter. I could pedal my way home blindfolded. I reached the house, tossed my bicycle against the rock wall and rushed inside, wailing from the humiliation.
“Corey made fun of me, Mom. And everyone was laughing,” I was able to choke out between sobs.
My mom marched to the sliding glass door, slung it open and called, “Corey!” through the neighborhood. “Cor-rey, come home now!” she yelled angrily.
Three minutes later, my brother stomped into the house, screaming at me for being such a stupid sister.
“Mom, she embarrassed me! She showed up without her shirt on and exposed her titties to all of my friends and they were all laughing!” he yelled.
“Then you should have stopped them,” she explained. “She is your sister.”
“Aaaaack!” Corey yelled in a defeated, frustrated voice and ran to his room and slammed the door.
My once distraught psyche, tried to hide the smile looming from within. I had done it. Not only had I gotten my brother into trouble, but now I had him all to myself.