Due to poor family planning strategies, my sister and I are 8 years apart, me being the younger one. She told that I was the long-awaited little sister, the mate to play and share secrets with. Imagine her disappointment when I was brought home from the hospital and she realised I was entirely unable to do anything. While she was free to share any secrets with me, I wasn’t old enough to even have a secret.
So there we stared at each other, 8 years of development between us. Me, embarrassed that I didn’t even know where my nose is, and her, annoyed because by the time I’d be old enough to do anything interesting with her, she’d be almost too old. It was then that we made a silent agreement; I will try to somehow grow up faster, and she will try to make grown-up things easier.
The first thing we tried was playing Barbies. I eventually learned how to sit by myself and hold a Barbie, more or less upright. I also learned how to undress a Barbie, but my motor skills didn’t yet allow me to put on any clothes. So, there we sat together, me with my naked Barbie, drooling, and my sister playing out a story in which she somehow managed to incorporate a naked, silent and slightly slanted Barbie.
Next, we played board games. I couldn’t count or read, but somehow we managed to play games like Monopoly and Cluedo. To avoid me having to read the names and rooms in Cluedo, my diligent sister glued little corresponding symbols on the cards and the board, so I could talk to her in symbols. Instead of saying, “It was Madam Rose in the Dining Room with the Candlestick” I said “The woman with the star, in the room with the circle, with this candle.”
While my sister made this effort for me, I also made an effort to pretend that I know how the hell this game works. I had no idea whether I was winning or not, I didn’t have the logical elimination skills needed to draw conclusions and I didn’t really understand how she always knew who did it and how. To me, she was this amazing magician or super genius and I was just trying to keep up with the abilities currently at my disposal.
Finally, when I reached more of an age of reason, my sister challenged me with new things, such as riddles or jokes. She was in high school, and was learning all sorts of interesting things about sex, relationships and the human body, while I was still tagging along drawing my A’s and B’s in primary school.
I remember that she tried to make a pun which she had heard at school. In this pun, the word ‘orgasm’ was the key word – a word I would not come to know for another 8 years or so, and that she herself only vaguely understood. As she made the joke, and I stared blankly into her face, I remember her frustration as she repeatedly yelled “orgasm!! It’s orgasm!! Don’t you see?”
I finally gave up and asked “What’s orgasm?”
Clearly also not really in the know, she tried to explain it by saying: “You know, when men and women do… things! And they like it.”
This poor explanation had of course the explosive potential to make me run around and ask adults who were enjoying themselves if they were currently having an orgasm. Luckily, I knew better than that and generally let my sister do the talking when it came to handling adults.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, we are pleased to announce that I have finally caught up with her in terms of human development and that we can engage in social life as equals.
I am still no good at Cluedo.