The other morning as we were getting ready for our day, Nordic Boy’s phone rang. It was one of his sisters calling from Ohio. She’s thinking of buying a car and she wanted his advice. Nordic Boy has four sisters. And when they need advice: about life, about relationships, about money, about anything, they call him up. This fact never ceases to amaze the living daylights out of me. Like, sometimes I just sit there and stare at him while he is having these conversations with them. That’s how much it fascinates me.
Don’t get me wrong. Nordic Boy is a great person to talk to, and his advice on things is stellar. He’s a smarty, and a great listener, and he will tell you the truth no matter what, and he’s kind. So really, a perfect advice-giving blend. That’s not the part that blows my mind. The part that blows my mind is that his sisters– his SISTERS– call him when they need something.
My siblings? Call me up to ask me for advice about something?
HAR HAR IT IS TO LAUGH.
I’ve got two brothers and a sister. And I love them all. But the day that any one of them would have a Life Issue and think to themselves “Self, I need to pick up that phone and ask Librarian Girl what she thinks about this one,” is the day that sparkle fairies fly out of my crack.
Why is this, I wonder. It’s not a question of birth order, as Nordic Boy is not the oldest in his family. It’s not a question of competence (um, I don’t think), as I am a fully functioning member of adultkind. So I don’t know what it is. I have called upon my siblings from time to time. Sure, not that often, but it has been known to happen. Like, maybe I’ve done that once every couple of years or so. But them, calling me? Not. gonna. happen.
I have to admit, this bugs me. You’ve never wanted to know my opinion about something, people who have known me our whole entire lives? Anything? NEVER? Like, never, ever? Ever?
Apparently, nope. Not ever.
Why should that matter?
I think I can illustrate it best using an anecdote about one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard my brother give. (Talking about why it bugs me that my siblings don’t ever ask me for advice via a story about advice given by my sibling? HOW META CAN YOU GET?)
A few years ago, my brother was visiting me in Seattle and we went out for lunch with Neighbor J. Neighbor J had just moved into a new house, and there was an elderly couple that shared a driveway with her. The wife was sweet to Neighbor J from the start. The husband was a bit gruff. Neighbor J knew that the husband had a sweet interior in there somewhere (grumpster with a heart of gold, party of one), and she was trying as hard as she could to connect with him, but it wasn’t working. She wanted to have good relationships with her new neighbors, and she was pulling out all the stops, being as chatty and smiley as she could be, but it wasn’t working. She was starting to think that Grumpy Husband might never come around.
My brother’s main cache in life is that he is charming. He can charm the pants off of anyone,(and when we were younger that could be quite literal: I don’t know how many times I had to tell my girlfriends YOU CANNOT DATE MY BROTHER SO JUST LOOK AWAY because that would be too weird for me). And so he listened to Neighbor J lament about her grumpy neighbor, and this is what he said:
“You know what you need to do? You just need to ask him to do something for you. Come up with a favor and then ask him to help you. That’ll thaw him right out.”
And then we just sat there for a moment. What? Why would that solve anything? Ask him to do something for you? Why?
Neighbor J let that one sink in. And then she went home and tried it. I believe she had a busted up tv or something in her garage, and she knew that Grumpy Husband was a retired engineer, and so she asked him to fix it. And he did. And he softened. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They’re still friends, even now. He came to her baby shower, and her 30th birthday party. They’re buds.
I never forgot that piece of advice. I thought it was pretty dang good. My brother, the Yoda of Charm School. Asking someone to do you a favor is powerful. It shows them you respect them, and you trust them to help you with something, and of all the people in the world to ask, you chose them. You’re honoring their experience, their expertise. You see them. People appreciate that.
Anyway. I was thinking about that the other day, as Nordic Boy chatted away on the phone with his sister, and how true it was. There has never been a doubt in my mind that Nordic Boy’s entire family not only loves him, but holds him in the highest esteem. They respect him, a lot. I’ve been really moved by how they treat that dude on many an occassion. It’s really beautiful, actually, and I never really broke down what it was that got me about it. But that’s what it is. And that’s sort of what made me feel wistful about my siblings. I know they love me. But that particular brand of showing it? I’ve missed out on that from them my whole life. So when I see it happening constantly in the Nordic Boy clan, it just gets me.
Then, over the weekend, I got a call from my other brother. And he was thinking about this thing he had to do for work, and did I know of any resources that could help him with it?
I could have fallen over. Really. It was a small conversation, totally off the cuff, but it shifted something for me. It’s hard to explain what I mean. I just felt…something different. I don’t know, maybe it was the tremor I was feeling in my hindquarters from those sparkle fairies, or something.