10 Reasons My Family Is Better Than I Am
While I have my virtues, I must admit that in many ways my family is better than I am. I don’t particularly enjoy this, but some of their characteristics are so superior to mine, I must declare them to the world:
1. My Sister “Lauren,” Is More Disciplined Than I Am
I think that “Lauren” was born disciplined; some people are just that way. I am nearly fourteen years older than Lauren, but in goal-land, I think that Lauren is fourteen years older than I. When Lauren was nine years old, I asked her what she was thinking. “About what I’m going to next,” was her definitive answer. Just to give you a clue how things have not changed, her current reading includes, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't.” I think I’m just shooting for “good” at the moment. To both praise and taunt Lauren (nicknamed “Winky” by my brother) for her precocious ambition, I came up with the following ditty (sung with an annoying tune):
Winky the Wonderchild
The beautiful, intelligent, articulate Wonderchild
Winky the Wonderchild . . .
Even in high school when I was mostly a high achiever both scholastically and athletically, there were lapses (during a particularly noticeable slip, my father, “The Count” said he was going to take away my driving privileges if I didn’t bring my grades up. It seems The Count got a discount on car insurance for his children’s good grades). Despite any temporary slips I may have had in the classroom, I was a bit of a track star. One day, Lauren was looking antsy, so I brought her with me to the track. At four years old, she ran around the track as long as I did! She cried when I told her that we needed to go home. She was wearing sandals, and she still wanted to keep going. It occurs to me that even at that time Lauren outshined me in her little four-year-old body.
Bursts of high achievement and ambition have fallen to the wayside when I broke up with another guy, got depressed, etc. etc. The worst bout of apathy happened in college when working on my psychology degree; somehow my spiritual, philosophical, and poetic musings seemed more important than school (I’m not sure why I didn’t make this work for me at that time, but I didn’t. I later redeemed myself when I got my second bachelor’s degree in English—a great degree for those who see their musings of any sort as very important).
Lauren never had such lapses; she graduated as valedictorian in her field of study in college. Now, as a mother of six children, she maintains a beautiful body and neat household! Sometimes, I don’t have the courage to do the dishes that my husband, “Deke” and I make at dinner.
During a particularly unmotivated time in my life, cheerful Lauren called me in the morning; she told me how she had gotten three children ready, worked out, and brought cookies to the neighbors. “I brushed my teeth,” I said.
2. My Father, “The Count” Possesses Astounding Spatial Intelligence; Mine is Non-Existent
When The Count was in the army, he took an intelligence test and scored the highest ever recorded on the visual aptitude portion in his particular location. The Count simply understands these things. I, on the other hand, get pathetically lost on those tests which ask, “If you fold Flap A into Slot C, and fold Flap B into Slot B . . . what will it look it three-dimensionally? “ Ahhhh! I am lost after the mention of Slot B.
Even things as mundane as parallel-parking a car seem to elude me. At one time, “Deke” and I had a fancy, sports sedan which was a bit wide. Try as I might, I couldn’t even park it regularly in our tight parking garage. “Think about it,” said The Count, “Think about spatially what you need to do.” It just never worked for me.
Count, I have a bone to pick with you genetically. Why oh why did you not pass on spatial intelligence to me?
3. My Sister, “Heather,” Looks Better On Camera Than I Do
To both praise and taunt Heather as a teenager, I came up with the following ditty (also sung in an annoying tune):
Heather, Heather, let down your golden hair
You’re such a pretty girl with cotton underwear.
While I did declare her beauty, I sort of undercut the compliment by declaring to the world the fabric of her underwear.
For a brief time I wrote and produced a television show for children (that is a story unto itself). I was working on a piece about children’s safety. Unfortunately, there had been an attempted abduction of Heather in high school. I thought it would be a good idea to have one of my child reporters ask Heather about her experience. As I looked back at the video of Heather, it seemed her blue eyes softly and demurely drew you into her story, her matter-of-fact way made her lovely face even more alluring.
While I was helping to put together the piece on child safety, we needed someone to do an on-air advertisement for the production company. We were desperate, so I stepped in to do the spot. I also happened to do the digital editing, so I saw my face and Heather’s face over and over on camera; it was clear; Heather belonged on film. The sad part is that I am more the “Ta da it’s me type” than she is.
When visiting my mother, I said, “Mom, Heather looks better on camera than I do. I wish I looked as good as she does.”
“So, you want to write, produce and look the best on camera?”
“Yes,” I said frankly.
“You want a lot, kid,” my mother said.
4. My Sister, “Carol,” Is More Popular and Loved Than I Am
Whenever I meet one of Carol’s friends, associates, or colleagues they inevitably say the same thing: “Carol is great. We just love Carol.” I’ve gotten so used to saying, “Yes she is,” I sometimes feel like tattooing it on my forehead.
Despite challenges in her life, Carol remains funny, kind, patient, amiable, and loving. She has a bit of a fan club; I think I had one for a while, but not anymore.
When I told my friend, “Brenda” that she was my best friend outside of my family, she said in her beautiful British/Australian accent, “Lovely.” Absent was her response, “Lovely. You’re my best friend too.” Brenda is about twenty years older than I and one of my favorite people of all time. I think imbedded in her non-declaration of her being my BFF was this” “You simply aren’t mature enough yet to be my best friend—besides there are so many of my other friends and fans to choose from.”
I must face the facts right now; I am no one’s best friend, and no longer have a fan club, though Brenda and Carol can’t even begin to choose from the array of people who want to be their best friend,
5. My Brother, “Ted,” Works Harder Than I Do
“You’re working too hard; why don’t you rest?” I don’t believe that my parents uttered these words to anyone but my brother “Ted.” Ted has always had the ability to attack a job and finish it quickly. When he was a teenager, he was asked to be an assistant manager at the local pizza place; I have never been asked to be the assistant manager of anything. My parents always say that they have no favorites, but regarding doing tasks for them, I must declare that I believe that Ted is their favorite, and not without good reason.
In his forties, Ted works a full-time job, has worked a full-time job plus, and has five children whom he cares for and adores as a single dad.
There is something about me doing manual labor which makes people laugh. At my house, every “Smith” child took their turn at mowing the lawn but me. I think that The Count decided that I was the most likely child to cut her foot off.
Even though I was a very physical, school record-holding, long-distance runner, other team members laughed when I took my turn at cleaning the track; something about me and a broom just didn’t seem to go together.
A couple of years ago, The Count and my mother, “Mama S” moved a refrigerator which had been in one place for about thirty years. Since The Count had almost died a couple of times, was in his seventies, and had moved the refrigerator, I decided it would be a good idea for me to clean up the mess that had been under the refrigerator. When I got down on my hands and knees and started cleaning the goo, The Count, towering above, looked down upon me and said, “I can’t tell you what good it does my heart to see you this way.”
6. My Mom, “Mama S,” Is A Happier Person Than I Am
Mama S is just plain and simply a happier person than most. She is consistently positive, and likes movies with happy endings. She likes happy movies so much, my family and I refer to them as “Mama S movies.” With “Sophie’s Choice” at the top off my movie list, I doubt my happiness scale will ever consistently reach Mama S land.
7. Both “Mama S” and “The Count” Are Better Money Managers Than I
I don’t think that Mama S and The Count have ever lived beyond their means; this can be very infuriating. The Count told me not long ago that his credit score was only one point away from perfect. “What?” I said incredulously. Let’s just say when I was younger, I made a few impertinent financial choices.
After I moved back home after leaving New York, The Count and Mama S said that it was a great time for me to double-pay my bills. This simply seemed like a foreign concept to me at the time. Why double-pay bills when you can go on a groovy vacation? After moving out again and back into the cold, cruel world I realized that The Count and Mama S were right.
8. My Husband, “Deke” Can Negotiate Almost Anything in His Favor; I Have Been Afraid To Ask for A Second Bag of Peanuts on a Discount Airline
Deke has an amazing ability to get what he wants. Once, when a travel insurance company was giving us a hard time about a legitimate claim, Deke e-mailed the CEO of the company detailing why Company X should pay our claim. Let’s just say that Company X eventually saw things Deke’s way.
Deke’s latest negotiation victory was getting the construction company next door to our building that was making a bit of a dusty mess, to not only wash our car, but send a roving, detailing company to our building to do it! All around us sit beautiful cars in our parking lot, but only Deke managed to get our vehicle cleaned.
I have been notoriously afraid of asking for things (though after living with Deke, I have gotten better). When I was in college, I asked Lauren (remember, she is fourteen years younger than I) to confront the dry cleaners for damaging a sweater of mine; I just couldn’t face them on my own.
9. My Niece, “Tina,” Who is 13, Has Already Learned How To Analytically Look At Reasons for Not Meeting Her Goals, While I Have Spent Most of My Life Languishin
At thirteen, “Tina” already knows how to set and achieve goals; not only that, if she does not achieve her goal, she has the ability to break down the reasons logically and methodically. When Tina did not achieve her goal of being on the yearbook staff, she coolly told her mother that she was going to speak to her friend who was on the yearbook staff, because to Tina, her application was good, but perhaps her friend could give her some insight as to how she could make her application better. There were no tears—no drama—unlike me, who in high school when I did not achieve my goals, felt like my heart was going to break in two. Even today, I normally have to give myself a pep talk after a thwarted attempt at something I want; however, I am rarely logical about it. First, I must calm myself down before proceeding with an analysis. Tina, on the other hand, at thirteen, already does what I am working on doing and trying to achieve at fifty-one; and just like her cool-headed, executive father, Tina is forging a pathway to success.
10. My Nephew, “Thomas,” Is Just Plain Cooler Than I Am
I think that “Thomas” was born to be a trendsetter. In high school, he wore what he wanted to wear, and others copied his sense of style. He drives a Ducati motorcycle, and looks very cool doing so. I drove a motorcycle once and almost threw the boy, whose motorcycle it was, onto the concrete (clutch issue apparently).
It wasn’t that I didn’t have my charms in high school; I certainly did, but I had to try quite hard to get people to like me—striving (well most of the time) for high school greatness.
I brought Thomas for a visit to Manhattan. I was amazed at how quickly he adapted to the new environment—adjusting to the subway, and generally to the crowds and big city life. I lived in Manhattan for five years and never acclimated that fast.
In addition to Thomas’ adaptability, gorgeous women simply fall at his feet—I mean, these women look good from every angle. He really doesn’t have to do much, and they come running, and at twenty-four, he doesn’t have the money to buy them—quite extraordinary. I have just never really been cool without having to try.
What Shakespeare Says
Shakespeare said it best (Sonnet 29):
When, in disgrace with fortune, and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends posses’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising,
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Ironically, those whose gifts I laud and envy, are the very people in whose company, “I scorn to change my state with kings.” Thanks to all I love and admire—