From Our Readers
December 29, 2013 6:00 am

If your childhood was full of junior football league games, playful chokeholds and arguments over Nintendo 64, you may have had brothers. Though sometimes exhausting, the unintentional life lessons that my brothers have bestowed upon me are invaluable. While each incident is not Partridge Family perfect, they’re memorable nonetheless. I’ve compiled a brief list highlighting the most delightfully uncomfortable moments of my male-dominated upbringing.

You Develop a Diverse Sense of Humor

After living with three boys for 19 years, one can imagine the innuendos and bodily function jokes that have polluted my mind. But as the years passed, something terrifying happened. I actually found the humor in these grotesque stories. If it’s crude or written by Judd Apatow, chances are I’ve seen it. Throughout my life, I have inadvertently received an informal education on the complete works on Seth MacFarlane, the art of a projectile vomiting scene (courtesy of Daniel Tosh), and the most memorable lines of Christopher Walken. I can’t exactly say I’m proud of the knowledge I’ve cultivated because it has minimal real world application, but a little bit of me beams whenever I overhear a conversation discussing last night’s episode of Workaholics.

You Have to Watch ‘Dirty Dancing’ and Musicals Alone

I have lost count of the number of times I have tried to convince my brothers that West Side Story is about violent gang tension in New York or that Grease is only about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. They still haven’t bought it and I don’t entirely blame them. Teenage boys aren’t exactly enthralled by coming-of-age stories that feature more dancing than dialogue. I get it. So this leaves me burrowed away in my room watching every John Hughes film by myself. The perk? I can weep shamelessly over every frame featuring Patrick Swayze and not have to worry about anyone seeing my contorted crying face that puts Kim Kardashian’s to shame. Nobody puts baby in a corner.

You Learn a Bunch of Nifty Skills

It’s not earth-shattering information that young boys and girls don’t always play nicely together. Early on in my life this posed a problem. More often than not, my brothers would be off engaging in some group activity and I would be left on the sidelines as a supportive spectator. In order to break this cycle, I eventually caught on. On the day when they’d play “Bears vs. Packers”, I learned how to throw a football. After getting over the initial guilt of being a worm murderer, I knew how to bait a hook. The same goes for nail hammering, tree climbing, and fort building. With this skill set I’m confident that I could last at least two days in the woods without winding up lying helplessly in the fetal position.

Puberty is Awkward

Hopefully this doesn’t require further explanation.

You Eat Like a Hungry, Hungry Hippo

Like in the wild, survival of the fittest applies to mealtime in my household. Whoever is quick enough to grab the final slice of Gino’s East is victorious and respected by all other inferior siblings. Eating contests are also quite popular determinants of dominance. Crave Cases and Slider sleeves litter the floor when my mom goes out-of-town and are the only skeletal remains of the most disgusting displays of gluttony I have ever participated in. These ferocious feasting habits are also not limited to designated meal times. With three “growing boys” at home, snack foods can be inhaled in one sitting. That means if you want some Doritos, you either have to develop some serious stealth skills worthy of 007 or assert yourself. My preferred method is to tape threatening notes all over the pantry depicting the extreme consequences if someone happens to snatch my Flavor Blasted Goldfish. It’s serious business that has to be tended to.

You Can’t Catch Bieber Fever

Young men are especially keen on expressing their disdain for the new breed of teen heartthrobs that have emerged in the past few years. In the past few years Justin Bieber’s voice, haircut, and fashion choices have been ridiculed, as well as his fan base (I think we can add his recent antics to this list too). Thankfully boy band beats have never been a music genre I’ve enjoyed, but if I had gone through a fleeting fan girl phase, my brothers would never have let me live it down. The fear of relentless teasing has kept my obsessive tendencies in check and left me with my dignity.

No One Will Teach You How to Put on Eyeliner

Older sisters are intended to be the gurus of all things makeup, fashion, and the other vast mysteries of girlhood. Growing up I longed for a DJ Tanner to guide me through tumultuous pre-pubescence and carefully demonstrate the tricks of the cosmetic trade. Unfortunately I was not blessed with an older counterpart, which left me jabbing at my eyes with eyeliner attempting to mimic cutouts of Twiggy and Liz Taylor a la Cleopatra. The end result? Alex from A Clockwork Orange. No mother wants to see their eleven-year-old daughter sauntering around the house made up like one of the vilest literary figures of all time. The incident was haunting and humiliating enough that I haven’t picked up an eye pencil since.

Your Brothers Will Serve as Escorts, Bodyguards and Placeholders

Want to go see The Lion King 3D but can’t bear the emotional roller coaster alone? There’s a brother for that. Have a jumping spider colony camped out on your wall? Call your brother. Need someone to hold your spot in line to meet Winnie the Pooh while you grab a turkey leg? You’ve got your bros. Not only are they obligated to assist their baby sister, they’re glad to. But I am a full believer in reciprocity. I’ve stood in line with my younger brother to purchase M-rated games and have sat through my fair share of WWE pay-per-views. Siblings are the ones who put up with your weird interests when your parents and friends are too busy. And for that, dear brothers, I thank you.

Savannah Downey is a Chicago suburbanite who flew south to Auburn, AL in pursuit of a higher education. When she isn’t busy learning about all that the Deep South has to offer, she mothers stray cats, hangs out with a Disney princess, and performs in an Indian Music Ensemble. She genuinely loves the GAP (despite what Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love says), depression-era glassware and will forever swoon over Brendon Urie. Follow her @sleighdowney.

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