My younger brother Dan used to sleep in a car bed with a GI Joe tent over it. He owned a skateboard, a boogie board, a BMX bike, a moped, and a scooter. His favorite movies were “Rad” and “Gleaming the Cube.” But underneath his little daredevil facade was a kid that worshiped me, his older sister who occasionally used him as a human Barbie doll. He did whatever he could to please me — even if it meant wearing a dress — whatever it took to be accepted by me — even if it meant watching “Annie” every day for a week. I embraced him as my apprentice, my little neophyte. As we got older, I tried to instill him with values and culture. I introduced him to indie films and alternative music. I dragged him along to parties with my artist friends and gave him books to broaden his perspective. I encouraged him to leave the state for college and travel, to grow as a human being. I supported him 100 percent when he decided to move to New York City post-college to pursue a career in finance. I was always there when he needed advice. Staring at the clean-cut, 26-year-old man sitting across from me at his engagement dinner, I barely recognized the person he had become.“It’s an Asher cut,” he beamed, grabbing his fiancee’s left hand and thrusting it in my face. “I knew it was ‘the one’ the second my diamond guy showed it to me. It was just the way it shined.”
“What’s an Asher cut? Wait. You have a diamond guy?”
“Of course I do. You should have seen Ann’s face when I whipped it out in our suite in St. Tropez. Wanna see a picture? I have one on my new iPhone,” he rambled. I took in the photo of him and Ann holding a bottle of bubbly in the south of France. Was he wearing linen pants and a straw fedora?
“I was so nervous,” Ann, his fiancee piped in. He made googly eyes at her and they smooched. My mom wiped a tear away. No doubt she was all choked up that at least one of her children would make her a grandmother in the next decade considering that her 31-year-old daughter is questioning if she ever wants to get married or have kids … or ever go on a date again.
“I’m so lucky to be marrying my best friend and soul mate,” Dan started to tear up as he said it. I did too. But for another reason entirely. I felt like I had lost Dan.
I buried my face in my seafood paella. My mom mistook my tears for something else.
“Don’t worry, you’ll find someone and someday it will be your turn,” she said as she put her hand sympathetically over mine.
The thing is, I don’t particularly want it to be my turn. I think weddings are an annoying waste of money for the most part. And don’t even get me started on my socio-political views about the institution of marriage. I’m cool with love, just skeptical about marriage. Clearly, it’s for the young and naive. But these are not things I can say to my brother. For once, he won’t be wanting my advice. I feel bad even thinking these things when he and Ann look so genuinely excited about their future together.
As if he knew what I was thinking at that moment, Dan grabbed my hand. “I’m gonna need your input on things, you know, to make the wedding cool,” he said.
“And we want you to be a bridesmaid,” Ann beamed.
At that moment I knew I would have to accept Dan’s impending leap into my least favorite institution; maybe I’d even learn to embrace it. I suppose I would have to get excited about going to endless engagement dinners (there have been four so far), looking at bridal mags with Ann, assessing possible hotel ballrooms, and gasp, playing dress-up in a bridesmaid dress I will never wear again. But mostly, I will have to get used to having a different kind of relationship with Dan. Gone is the little guy who used to follow me around like a baby duckling. Over are the days when we built forts and battled each other for best in house at Super Mario Brothers. I would have to say goodbye to him and get to know the guy who believes in having a “diamond guy,” soul mates, and marriage. A man who will be a great husband and father someday. A person I can look up to.