Monday, May 11, 2009

life with a side of brothers.


I was seventeen and on top of the Eiffel Tower. The city of Paris sprawled out in front of me as if it was showing me the contents of its fabulous closet with her best accessories sticking out like overturned high heels, the Notre Dame, the Thames, and the Arc De Triumph. The air was cool, and the wind at the top tousled my hair as if the city itself was fixing it so I could fit right in, like I rolled out of bed after a night on the town.

The wind also brought bits of conversation that ruined my daydream. My brothers, who were also on the trip, discussing the possible results of spitting off the Tower. My dreamy smile turned into a grimace of annoyance when I heard the following.

"If you do it, I'll laugh, because it's going to go right back into your face."

"No, it's going to separate, and turn into tiny spittles, hitting a bunch of people down there."

"Duh, it's going to evaporate. You guys are so stupid."


Three conversations by three boys who always turned any of my potential classiness into secondhand reality. I was brought back to the moment and my presence as an available American romantic turned into an audience for the spitting feat. Three brothers will do that to you. They've embarrassed me in front of boyfriends, left me limp in hysterical laughter, and at that moment, proved to Parisians that Americans are, indeed, tacky, as they all hawked as big a loogey as they could muster from their croissant breakfasts.

This wasn't the first time they've conducted the spitting experiment, either. A few years before, the New York chill on top of the Empire State building resulted in a speedy agreement that spit would freeze over the edge, depending on your saliva's saltiness. And before we could even decide if that was the case, a tough-looking, mustached security guard strolled in front of them. With no chance to experiment, my thoughts turned back to the final scene in Sleepless in Seattle and my brothers discussed the speed in which a spit icicle could hurt someone. Thankfully, they never found out.

That week, before our moment on the Eiffel Tower, my parents had left our neighboring rooms to talk to the concierge and we flipped through the television channels to find something that sounded like English. No air-conditioning meant open windows in our hotel, which also meant plenty of spitting practice, especially in between the winding, circular staircase, where we had learned that rectangular luggage does not belong in Paris. We didn't belong there either, and this was especially true when my brothers roared at the French translation of the television show, Life Goes On. My laughter was unhinged after 24 hours of traveling, too, and let loose even more late in the night, when I heard a french man laughing like a stereotypical french man (a la Pepe La Pew) in the alley below. The guffaws in the other pillows in the room proved that it was funny to them, too.

Now, we're grown up with traveling experiences most people would only dream of. One is getting a Ph.D. in how those tall buildings don't fall down, the other is waiting for the birth of his first (and an introduction to a whole new world of spit), and the youngest is getting his masters in the studies of international health (and probably since learned the health ramifications of letting his germs loose overseas). And I'm still a dreamy teenager who thinks her life stories would be tidier without them. When I do tell my tales, I leave out most of the brotherly distractions, but they do slip out now and then, like a stray piece of spit in the middle of deep conversation--a dose of truth. For 18+ years, I struggled as a girly girl in between their farts, snorts, and inappropriate jokes, but now I truly enjoy retelling these epics to my husband before we fall asleep. It's not the pillow talk I imagined, but when I see him shaking with laughter after hearing their antics, I suppose I should thank all three of them for the unexpected romance in my life.

Eventually.

I'm still waiting for some apologies from them in the meantime.

8 comments:

Jill said...

that is really funny- brothers are great!

Becky said...

I totally relate, my four brothers never cease to amaze me. But, I'm so thankful that they have prepared me for boys. My boys just started a spitting contest at dinner tonight :)

Chrisie said...

Wow, how jealous am I! Je voudrais allez a Paris un jour. And thats about all I remember from 6yrs of studying French....quel dommage!

Kelly said...

I just love this post! I SO get this, being a romantic teenager at heart myself! Thanks so much for sharing! Isn't it funny how the real just kind of walks into our idea of "romance"? I've done so much learning about letting go of my own ideas - I just watched the Anne of Green Gables series while I've been sacked out on the couch. The perspective is terrific after all this real life! I love what she says at the end of the second movie: "I went looking for my ideals outside of myself and discovered that the world is not what you dream, but what you bring to it." (I think I misquoted that a little, but you get the point... ;-P)

MK said...

Love your writing friend! :)

Sarah said...

Hilarious...and I can relate! You are a great storyteller!

anne said...

haha...me too!

I have three bothers too!
GREAT post Alison :)

Nikole said...

I can totally relate! I have 4 of these pesky little bothers, though I love them and like them much better now that we are adults (well, sometimes)!