Last night, I made my wife watch The Mummy. Partially because Twitter kept reminding me of Rachel Weisz’s sex appeal. But mostly it’s because I fucking loved The Mummy as a kid. It was like Indiana Jones, but with less misogyny. And a hot brunette proclaiming that she was a librarian. My brother and I would watch that stupid movie and it’s glorious sequel, The Mummy Returns, on repeat. As an adult, I remember none of the movie. But I knew everything that was going to happen a split second before it did. Every line, every action sequence was ingrained in my muscle memory. I wanted to text my brother. I wanted to remind him how we learned Glenlivet was Scotch and that we were fascinated by Egypt not because of King Tut, but Imhotep and Anck-su-Namun. I didn’t because my brother and I text each other twice a year. Once on his birthday. Once on mine. Our text history is just alternating Happy birthday bro. Thanks. Happy birthday bro. Thanks. Happy birthday bro. Thanks.
You could probably write a dissertation on my relationship with my brother. Actually, you could probably write a really boring Psych 101 level paper on me and my brother because we are textbook. Our parents divorced when I was five and he was three. We bonded with each other more than we did our parents. We were close enough in age and disposition to have the same interests. In our younger years, people mistook us for twins. In middle and high school, we accidentally got the same haircut on more than one occasion (bleached and buzzed. It was the early aughts. Not our fault).
I was always fascinated by large families. And the concept of sisters. They all seemed regulated by gender. I was thankful to not have a sister. I was thankful my relationship with my brother made me more boy than it did girl. Or course, that’s all with the clarity of hindsight. When I was young, all I knew was I didn’t like girls. I know now that I was manifesting internalized misogyny and transphobia and heterosexism.
Everything shifted when I was seventeen. My brother and I grew rapidly apart. My little sister was born. I started dating my wife. I was adopted by my future sisters-in-law. Each of those events certainly shaped how I reacted to all of the other events. I’ll never be able to parse out exactly how. We all spent the next fifteen years growing up. Except my sisters-in-law, I suppose. They were already grown. My wife’s eldest sister is seventeen years her senior—just like me and my baby sister.
Baby sis is in high school now. She was fun as a kid, but she was a kid. Now, she’s like a real person. We can talk about feminism and activism and mental health and what we owe each other and humanity. It’s really fucking cool.
The wife and I spent today with her two oldest sisters. We did nothing and it was everything. I took off my shoe to show off my pedicure in the middle of a restaurant. One of the sisters and I debated the origins of English idioms. The other sister let someone go ahead of us in the coffee line because “our sisters are coming. Well, her wife and my sisters, but she’s my sister and we all are sisters but they are married. Am I giving too much information?”
And I think I get it now. It’s not about avoiding lip gloss or watching Rachel Weisz sword fight. It’s about someone who will kiss you goodbye and say I love you and know that when you say “yeah, this didn’t suck” it means “I love you too.”