I banged my head against my desk to shake up details of matrices, organized inputs, and linear operations in my brain. “Visualize the matrix,” my favorite sister said while she sipped on an already warming beer in my dorm room.
But no amount of tutoring could make linear algebra make sense and the cause, not taking the class for the third semester in a row, was difficult. But still, she persisted in skipping parties and time with her friends to make sure her favorite brother would pass.
My favorite sister and I always took care of one another. We were dear friends. We never fought. We shared a wall between our bedrooms where she studiously finished her homework on time while I distracted her with the pings and pongs of my latest video game.
My favorite sister and I played soccer on warm summer days and checked in with each other just to make sure we were doing fine. When mom was in the hospital, she cooked me meals while I did her laundry.
My favorite sister took me to school and to work before I had my license. We stood up for one another when mom and dad got mad and never took our parent’s side.
My favorite sister protected me from bullies in high school. All the upperclassmen were nice to me because they knew I was her brother.
My favorite sister studied hard and set the bar high. When her teachers were mine, they expected the same from me. Aside from linear algebra, things weren’t hard. I always leaped over the bar thanks to her offered preparations.
My favorite sister and I share many things in common. We both hate birthday parties, yet we love birthday dinners, made even better by the secret credit card given to us by dad. “For emergencies only.”
On warm summer nights, my favorite sister would call me when she had too much to drink, knowing her brother would rescue her.
And when I had much too much and stumbled home drunk for the very first time? My favorite sister put together the stereo I tripped over and tucked me into bed. Mom and dad never found out.
She and I went hiking and boating and to the movies. On family vacations, she snuck me quarters so I could play in the arcade.
My favorite sister told me how to dress “to impress the girls” and accepted me when I told her girls didn’t interest me very much. And she took me to my very first pride parade.
She helped me trim my sideburns when they got too bushy and told me exactly what she thought of my newest boyfriend so that I ended up with the right guy. And in the end? My favorite sister got another brother to call family.
My favorite sister danced with me at her wedding. And she danced with me at mine.
She called me while she was in labor just to let me know she was doing just fine, although I knew she was scared.
My favorite sister hoisted her wailing newborn daughter, my niece, into my arms and trusted me to watch her so she could take a nap. My niece didn’t stop crying and I didn’t care. I was just glad to help.
My favorite sister drove three hours out of her way just to see my new house — just to say hello to her favorite brother she hadn’t seen in a long while. She complimented everything I cooked for her even if it wasn’t good.
And my favorite sister and I held one another and wept after the funeral of our favorite aunt. After, we sat at a table in a local restaurant remembering fonder times and brighter days while tossing back pitchers of margaritas.
When you ask parents, they aren’t allowed to say they have a favorite child. Do the rules still apply to brothers who have a favorite sister? I don’t think they do.