Tag Archives: MASTERS OF SEX

The Brother Girls.[final edit]

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You’ll find us, easily.  We stand out, in a crowd, even when we’re sitting down.

We’re the girls who are seen out with one guy, who isn’t our boyfriend, for dinner.

Or, drinks. Or, in meetings. Or, in church. Or, at the concert, or the game, or wherever people spend any time at all together.

We’re the lone ladies who come from a family of boys. We’re the Brother Girls.

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I grew up in a brother “sandwich”: one older; one younger. They were quite far apart in age, but the younger was born only two years after me and, because our family was poor without realizing it (thanks to Mum), my little brother and I shared a bedroom until I was 10 years old.

Yes. We talked in the dark, across the room. We heard each other’s secrets, longings, and troubles – just like two sisters. (This, I found out from my girl cousins, a couple of whom lived around the corner and across the street.)

He and I would observe our elder brother, from the distance of age and experience, his activities and escapades filling us with wonder and admiration. I became aware of my little brother’s feelings toward our elder brother, and how they differed from those of my own as sister to each of them.

I learned the art of the boy.

But, as we grew, and encountered puberty, what made us distinct became both more apparent and less amenable to such closeness in proximity. Nevertheless, our emotional dynamics, and the patterns which would shape them, would be set forever.

I believe that women who grow up surrounded only by brothers have a perspective on human relationship specific to the needs of the opposite sex which may elude families of sisters. To many girls, their fathers are their model for the role men will play in their lives; to those with brothers, the models are as varied as the number of boys in the house.

Furthermore, in the absence of other girls, the sister to brothers has a relationship with their mother which is distinguishable from that of the brothers with the same mother. More on that, in a bit.

Brother Girls. We are, first and foremost, comfortable around men. We relax when they enter the room. Generally, they make us feel “at home.” We tend to treat them as familiar to us, even when we haven’t been formally introduced. To others, women with sisters, men without sisters, this behavior might seem forward, or driven by a need to dominate. It isn’t; it’s just our habit.

Men without sisters, for whom girls have played a more distant role ( not having been a part of their family’s ethos) prefer to idolize women. They place a set of expectations upon them, based in the model of their mothers, which are often subjected to disillusion. But, women who crave feeling special, in this way, perhaps due to neglect or trauma, seem nearly perfect for such men.

A brother girl, however, may squirm under the gaze of adoration. Such body language may even provoke from us an amused chuckle. We are far too wise about ourselves, and them, to buy into this brand of fawning. Burping and farting are far more easily tolerated than milky eyeballing and flattery.

(Important to include, here, would be those whose mothers have had a negative affect on men’s lives. In this case, and sadly, misogyny rules the roost.)

Brothers who had one sister may always need to be close to women. Additionally, upon marrying they may confuse the role of wife with that of mother, and continue to seek out the company of other women in search of their newly absent sister.

Why?

The lone sister plays the role of confidante in the lives of her brothers. She learns that their needs are both deep, sometimes confounding, and often persistently unmet. In turn, she learns that mutual revelations are bonding, and is more than ready to forge these. I will not reveal in this forum what I have both been told by my brothers, nor what I have disclosed to them, but I can say that no topic has either been off limits or alarming. It’s as if the brother and sister can confront anything, and that fearlessly.

Now, girls with sisters who are reading this piece might be reaching peak saturation annoyance. They may be thinking: “I have the very same relationship with my sister as you do with your brother.”   Right. Of course. Who’s arguing?

I might. I might suggest that, while similar, they are not parallel. Men and women, countless studies keep implying, do not think the same way. They view neither themselves nor the world identically, either. After all, society’s constructs dictate much of their response, and the history of gender bias in the workplace speaks for itself. No. Brothers need sisters not only to make sense of their feelings; they need them to make sense of their role in the lives of women.

In truth, every permutation of gender in any family dynamic has its pros and cons. In addition, the role of negative and positive influence cannot be ignored. But, I offer this piece from an informed perspective; how I view men is directly the result of my experience with those who lived in my family.

But, what of girls without brothers? Here, I can only speculate. Perhaps a lone girl without a brother forever subjects herself to men, either with joy due to having had a loving father, or with reluctance and fear for the opposite reason. However, in families of many sisters, the league of women may rise and overtake the father’s role, leading to future relationships between such sisters and their husbands marked by female domination of such total affect so as to render the men, at least at home, virtually subservient. I know this, because my mother was one of four sisters.

Now, I would be remiss were I to end this piece without addressing the dynamic between brother girls and other women.

Sister siblings, and brother girls, in the spirit of compatibility, are the least congruous. They have completely different views of men, and play equally distinct roles in the lives of men. Furthermore, because of their blind spot with regard to relating to each other’s experience, they tend to judge one another – and, somewhat harshly.

Brother girls tend to view sister siblings’ relationships with men as immature, lacking in insight or empathy. And, sister women likely see brother girls as a threat to the security of their own culture of female dominance. To them, brother girls don’t care enough about people, or children, nor do they possess any social finesse. And, the fact that their husbands disagree with them about such women is a source of contention and strife.

It may be true that brother girls appear to care more about men than women. But, this may be nourished by a cocktail of familiarity and experience; we are, after all, what we know and, increasingly, who we know. I, for one, have had a lifelong problem trusting women; yet, perhaps it is only sister siblings to whom I am reacting in this way.

I do know that I adore men, men of every type and persuasion. From the vantage point within my brother sandwich, I learned to value their dry wit, fierce intellect, brute strength, and inventive resourcefulness. From my father, I learned to desire creative genius and musical gift. And, from our mother, I learned that a woman should never be either subject or ruler.

So, brother girls, unite; we are, after all, in league with the canines. We are man’s best friend.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  10/27/16    *inspired by Margaret Andraso, who takes credit for the title. All other rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above these two lines.  Thank you, boys.  ❤

littlebarefeetblog.com

Mercury Retrograde.

Man, Alive.

Whoever said “believing can make it so” has never lived through an astrological prediction.

Mercury Retrograde had three whole weeks to wreak its magic: September 1st through the 22nd. (Check any Astrology site for the lowdown.) Today, the 21st, opened bright and sunny, reeking of possibility. But, Mercury Retrograde still had 24 hours and, apparently, making its final 12 intolerably spectacular was the order of the universe.

10:45 am: Sunglasses appointment, 300 State St. Fair enough. Easy. Tool down Peach St; pick out the latest tortoise shell horn rims; find out that Anthony, who has recently lost weight, also has four kids in all and one set of twins; and, give him the money: [too much.]

Done. No casualties.

11:55 am: The Pontiac tank is on Empty. Post Office box, first, before the lunch rush. Endless catalogs; several Thank You notes from Erie Gives Day; the UBS annual report; and:

Peebles’ coupons.

Peebles has cosmetics. Maybe check to see if they have DermaBlend, to cover the scar on the chin caused by face planting onto the found engagement diamond from 1993?

Oh; but, they have clothes.

12:10 pm: Peebles, Liberty Plaza. On sale. 50% off. 30% off. Red Line.

12:33 pm: Twelve hangers later, I’m at the check out. Do I have my Peebles’ charge? Of course, I do not. And, of course, none of the sales are valid without it. Of COURSE. (This is Mercury Retrograde, isn’t it?). Wait; only the Red Line sale items require Peebles’ charge. Had I selected any Red Line items? Please keypad your phone number. Please keypad your zip code. Residential? Please keypad your Social. Not accepted. What? Not my Social? Please keypad your Social, again. Not accepted.

Three years’ shy of collecting Social Security;  Social Security number not accepted.

[Mercury, Retrograde.]

Oh; not my z.i.p c.o.d.e of record. (NOTE: Social Security number now dependent upon correlating zip code of record.)  Oh; try b.i.l.l.i.n.g zip code? Aha. Social Security number accepted.

Driver’s License, please?

Twelve hangers, and no Red Line items selected. I will pay with my EFCU card, of course. Or, Mastercard. Both of which are with the driver’s license in the Altoids Peppermint tin in the — where is the Altoids Peppermint tin?

Could it be stuck at the sunglasses appointment?

1:10 pm: In the parking lot, I call the eye doctor’s office. No; they have no Altoids Peppermint tin on their counter. This is because the Altoids Peppermint tin is caught in the front seat of the car, ready to slip into oblivion like everything else that ever falls out of the purse.

But, why is the driver’s license not in the Altoids Peppermint tin? Because it is still in the card slot of the piano sack, from the recital at the Tuesday Morning Music Club, of course.

1:30 pm: Home for the driver’s license.
1:41 pm: Back to Peebles. (Yes; This is Erie, Pennsylvania: Five minutes, Home; Five minutes, Away. )The lady clerk has hung all my selected garments by the register. And, there is my brother’s ex-wife’s twin sister, Jean, waiting in line ahead of me. Hadn’t I seen her at Peebles just seven years ago?

After I answer Jean that my brother, her ex-brother in law, is still alive, Jean and I laugh our heads off about everything. Then, Jean buys one blue top and off she goes.

2:02 pm: I step up to the counter, making some crack about my looking like an Arab to the woman standing beside me. She tells me she’s Native American, and we exchange stories about being mistreated in the airport because of our facial bones. The cashier rings up my sale: $216.31 YOU SAVED $192.65

2:12 pm: I take my big fat savings to the car, and then remember I have to check at the cosmetics counter about DermaBlend. No; they don’t sell it. But, the clerk is the parent of a former Perry student, and she takes pity on my chin scar and breaks every rule of good merchandising and tells me DermaBlend is sold by Sephora at JC Penney.

2:25 pm : I have to pee, have not eaten, and the tank still reads Empty, ding ding. Stop home; chug a protein shake; check email.  Skip filling the tank, still ding ding dinging. Somebody has said you get miles on Empty.

2:50 pm:  Head up Peach to JC Penney. The first person I see in the store is a former Grover Cleveland student, Leah, and her mother, who both work there. Mrs. Papucci takes me to Sephora. They don’t have DermaBlend. But, ULTA might; ULTA is in the strip mall, outside.

3:00 pm: Mrs. Papucci and I walk back into Penney’s. I can’t get to my car without passing through the clothing department.

75% off sale. Evan Piccone dresses. Liz Claiborne curvy fit jeans.

3:42 pm: Twelve more hangers. Gush at flirty baby in stroller. Pass on the Evan Piccone.
But, this time, I have all my cards, and the girl is quick because I tell her the roofer is coming at 4:00 and I have twelve minutes to get home in time.

4:01 pm: Home. No roofer. An hour later, still no roofer. I text; I call. Mike, and Bo’s buddy, Dave, can be there later, around 7:30 or 8.

4:15 pm: Set up Judy’s Kyrie cello obligato, and start to read the French horn accompaniment.

5:23 pm: Eat sweet potato ravioli, and then remember that “Midnight Special” is playing at FILM at the Erie Art Museum, and the exquisite boy who plays opposite Michael Sheen in MASTERS of SEX is the star, and I have vowed to attend. I call the roofer; can he come by 6:45, or Thursday?

6:25 pm: Mike calls back. He decides to come Thursday; I put on my denim long shirt (from JC Penney), and drive to the art museum.

7:00 pm:  The introduction to the film features several trailers for upcoming movies, saved on laptop Powerpoint, as well as a joyful announcement involving the Film Society of Northwestern PA’s recent collaboration with the Erie Phil, an orchestra with which I recall playing for 27 years until 2012.

7:20 pm: “Midnight Special” begins. It is riveting, from start to finish; perfectly paced, superbly acted, brilliantly conceived. During the Discussion Period, those of us in the know keep mum about what we believe concerning extra terrestrials; there is one comment about Michael Shannon, one Brush with Greatness anecdote, and no discussion.

9:20 pm:  On my way out of the museum, Betsy asks me if I can put together some background music for the annual Oscars party at the Sheraton. I suggest string quartet playing arrangements of the nominated songs. Brian’s date tells me she likes my track shoes. I remind that the foot surgeon has ordered only sneakers until the end of October.

9:30 pm: Hungry for Dairy Queen GF vanilla, I drive up Peach Street to Taco Bell for a Cantina Chicken Bowl. Pulling up to the drive through, behind two other cars, I look down at the tank reading Empty, and turn off the engine to save gas for the coast down Peach that leads home.

9:35 pm: I turn the key in the ignition. The car sputters; the battery light comes on.  I turn the key, again. The engine shakes in the manifold.

9:37 pm: I get out of the car, and walk toward Taco Bell. A LIFT driver exits, and I ask if he’ll push my car with the dead battery out of the drive thru to a parking spot. He and another guy approach my car, look into the cab, ask me to turn the key, and say:

“You’re out of gas.”

They heave my car into a parking spot, and retreat.

9:42 pm: In my denim long shirt, yoga pants, leg warmers, and sneakers,I start walking north on Peach Street, toward the Citgo Station a half mile down the hill.

9:50 pm: I reach AutoZone. The two guys inside say they don’t sell dry gas; they sell gas cans. Do I want 2 gallons, or 1?  Hau, from Viet Nam, says he’ll drive me to Taco Bell.

9: 58 pm: I walk to Citgo, with the can. I can’t get the nose off the can. I take it inside, where a customer says my leg warmers remind him of Olivia Newton-John. The two clerks inside jimmy the nose off; I go back outside, fill the can, and walk back up to AutoZone. My foot is hurting, and I am biting my lip to keep oncoming traffic from recognizing me as the auto lights pass by on the road.

10: 05 pm:  Hau drives me to Taco Bell; Mike, his manager, follows behind. Hau fills my tank with the gas from the can. I ask Mike and Hau to wait while I start the car. The engine sputters and shakes, and stalls out. Mike takes the keys. Mike turns the key in the ignition about twelve times. Hau lifts the hood. The engine shakes in the manifold. Mike looks at the battery, and asks when I have replaced it.

I haven’t.

10: 20 pm: Mike jumps the battery with his cables from his SUV. Nothing happens. Mike speculates that sediment in the empty tank has clogged the fuel filter. Yes; AutoZone sells batteries, and installs them; no, AutoZone does not replace fuel filters.

10: 25 pm: I call AAA. I ask them for a tow to Greg’s Auto, and a battery. They tell me I can have one, or the other, but not both.

I take the truck.

10: 33 pm: I walk up to the Taco Bell window, and order a Cantina Chicken bowl, double chicken, no black bean.

11:10 pm: Just as I finish the last bite of the Cantina Chicken Bowl, AAA arrives. His name is Don. He pops the hood; he tries the key in the ignition; he looks under the hood. Then, he goes to his truck, pulls out a 3 gallon can and a long funnel, and pours 2 more gallons of gas into the tank.

11:14 pm: Don turns the key. The engine ignites; the car idles; the battery is fine. The car is, too. Don has saved the car, and the tow. Don says that 1 gallon of gasoline is not enough to stimulate the [Pontiac] fuel pump to get any gas to the engine.

11:20 pm:  I pull into TOPS parking lot, get out, go in the store, and buy one 1/2 cup of Haagen Dazs vanilla for $1.79. I bring it home, add a tablespoon of almond butter, and sit down to eat it all.

11:24 pm: I turn on the TV. The news announces another fatal shooting of an African American by a police officer, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina, where my cousins live.

I am safely home, safely nourished, and safely past Mercury Retrograde.

But, a believer?

You had better believe it.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 9/22/16   All rights those of the author, whose story it is, would you wish this on anybody? and, whose name appears above this line. Thank you. Happy Birthday, Abby!

littlebarefeetblog.com