Friday, August 10, 2007

Being Dave's Sister

I have a younger brother. His name is Dave and he's 3 1/2 years younger than I am. Dave is one of those guys that give guys a great name and I've always been proud to be related to him. But let's be clear, I have "oldest child syndrome." I like the spotlight and I'm not terribly fond of sharing it with anyone.

Growing up, until I was 17, I was known for my own accomplishments - be they academically, because of my debating skills (come on, you knew I was on the debate team!), as part of the marching or concert bands, because I was a cheerleader (don't pretend you didn't suspect this too), or my appearance on the Today Show. Dave was also known for his accomplishments on the soccer field. To say he was a great goalie would be an understatement. We ran in separate circles and until my senior year of high school, I pretty much ruled the school . . . because he wasn't there.

Then Dave arrived. And I kissed my status as Jessica Gardner, person-in-her-own-right, good-bye. I suddenly became Dave's Sister. At first, it was kind of cool. My little brother was the new darling of the Varsity Soccer Team. And I was proud. But after about 15 minutes, it got old when suddenly all anyone talked about was Dave's performance on the soccer field.

And being Dave's Sister continues to this day. Now that I'm living in our hometown again, I regularly hear "oh, you're Dave's Sister" when I'm meeting people. Even when I run into people who were in my high school graduating class. It even happens at Watervale, where we've both spent significant portions of our lives. And with people I've known for years. Somehow they've forgotten that I even exist. And when I have to reintroduce myself, the easiest thing to say is always "I'm Dave's Sister." Usually, that works. On a few occasions, I have heard "I didn't even know Dave had a sister." That one cuts me.

And then tonight, I had a table at The Mane Event. About 6:30 a couple in their mid-30s walks up to my table and we chit-chat for a couple seconds. The wife looked familar, but I couldn't place her. After a few seconds, she leaves and the husband starts to follow, but then stops and looks at my name tag. "You're Jessica Gardner from Hersey, right?" I almost fell over. "Yes, I am." It turned out both he and his wife were in my graduating class and he stood there and talked to me for another 5 minutes like it hadn't been almost 20 years since we'd last spoken. And since we didn't really know each other well in high school, being remembered by him was quite a surprise.

The best part was that the whole time Dave didn't even come up. Maybe I've finally turned a corner.

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