I was a young man on a date. We were eating at a dive restaurant. We’d gone on exactly four dates. She didn’t care for me.
I was an awkward-looking babyface who hadn’t washed his truck in fifty years. Her family belonged to a country club.
I had movie tickets in my pocket. After dinner, we were going to the movies. That was the plan.
I ordered the burger. She got the chicken salad. Things were going famously between us.
After supper she said, “I don’t think we’re fit for each other…”
I asked her why, of all possible times, she waited until after I paid for her chicken salad to tell me this.
She said she wanted to date someone who was (and I quote) “doing something with his life.”
She hitched a ride home with her sister. I never saw her again.
I drove home through the dark. I parked in my mother’s driveway. I turned on the radio and felt sorry for myself.
I was good at feeling sorry for myself. After my father died, I’d turned wallowing into a fine art.
My sister came walking out the front door. Barefoot. She was a nine-year-old. She had a button nose, sun bleached hair.
“Why’re you sitting out here?” she said. “Why aren’t you coming inside.”
She’s always been nosy. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to my kid sister about the finer points of why I had two orphaned movie tickets in my pocket.
But then, this wasn’t just a sister. This was my friend. During our father’s funeral, she’d been a five-year-old, bouncing on my hip.
And I was her brother—who slept on her bedroom floor for six years. After my father’s funeral, she was afraid to sleep alone.
The nine-year-old crawled into my passenger seat and said, “What’s wrong? Where’s your date?”
I turned the radio dial to fill the silence. The Eagles were singing about peaceful easy feelings. I didn’t feel peaceful. I felt like a loser.
My sister sang along in a loud voice.
“Stop singing,” I said.
“Because I’m thinking.”
“About what a stupid loser I am, that’s what.”
Her mouth closed. The song ended. Up next: an anthem by Crystal Gayle about brown eyes. I turned it up.
I understood Crystal’s sad song. Life seemed unfair. I wondered what was wrong with me.
I shut the stereo off. I looked through the window at the night. My sister was quiet.
I reached into my pocket. “You wanna go to a movie?” I said.
She thought about it. She kicked her bare feet the way little girls do. She wrinkled her face.
“Dunno,” she said. “All depends.”
What was the world coming to? I couldn’t even get a date with my sister.
“Depends on what?” I asked.
“On if you buy me popcorn.”
I agreed to buy a small popcorn.
“AND, Whoppers,” she added.
“AND, a big, huge, extra-extra large Coke, with nachos, and a pickle.”
We shook on it.
She wasn’t cheap. But we enjoyed ourselves. I don’t remember what movie we saw. I don’t remember how my sister ate all the food. The older I get, the less I remember.
But I remember carrying her sleeping body inside after the movie. I remember placing her in her bed.
I remember her eyes opening, and her whispering in a sleepy voice, “You’re not a loser to me.”
Sandi in FL - January 10, 2018 8:04 am
Oh, what a sweet, fond memory. Aren’t sisters delightful? I treasure mine like a rare gem.
Susan Hammett Poole - January 10, 2018 12:38 pm
Oh, my dear “leetle seester” Sandi ~ sweet words to hear this morning! Thank you. And the feeling is mutual. NOTE TO SEAN: you, sir, are definitely a treasure to your readers and certainly NOT a loser by any definition.
ponder304 - January 10, 2018 10:39 am
Priceless! The Biggest Winner!
CaroG87 - January 10, 2018 10:55 am
Oh my gosh tears again….
Cathi - January 10, 2018 11:04 am
No, Sean, you’re definitely not a loser.
Janet Williams - January 10, 2018 12:10 pm
Everyone needs a sister/friend like that!
Howard Humphreys - January 10, 2018 12:25 pm
The loser was your date!
Sandi in FL - January 10, 2018 8:03 pm
You are so correct, Howard. Sean’s date was such a loser, but gave his little sister an opportunity to be a winner!
Jan - January 10, 2018 1:30 pm
Words of truth! Listen and remember!
Steven Porter - January 10, 2018 1:36 pm
Terry - January 10, 2018 2:13 pm
Boy…does this one seem familiar. Thanks Sean….
Arlene Pergamit - January 10, 2018 2:16 pm
I read them all….I will never forget this one and how it made me feel. We love you and need you. You are our humanity in a world of fires and hurricanes and mudslides. God bless you.
Marilyn - January 10, 2018 2:23 pm
Having being blessed with three brothers, two older and one younger. Somewhere along the way the “bothers” miraculously became “brothers!” Few things in life are greater than knowing you have each other’s back. Whether it be to cheer each other on, or pick up the pieces! ?
Sandra Smith - January 10, 2018 2:36 pm
LAWRD, Sean !!!
That one squeezed my heart so hard, love backed up and filled my eyes !!!
rexolio - January 10, 2018 3:08 pm
Wow… that one got me.
Kathy Young - January 10, 2018 3:41 pm
I’m 15 years older than my sister. Our relationship blossomed after she married & raised a family. After a nasty, deeply hurtful divorce, she began to show symptoms of memory loss which caused her to lose her teaching job. After an 18 month stay with me and numerous doctors & tests, she was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. She was 55. Cherish your sisters AND brothers. They are your treasures.?
Jack Quanstrum - January 10, 2018 4:45 pm
Pretty darn Kool!
Susie - January 10, 2018 6:39 pm
Being the little sister myself, this brings back memories of an older brother who used to, when I had no one else to play with, play dolls and ride stick horses with me, even though I’m sure he felt too old to be playing such things and being a boy and all he’d have rather been doing stuff with our older brother. But he loved me and I loved him back. Great story, more tears!
Tammy Andros - January 10, 2018 7:50 pm
I am glad to have found you Sean. Beautiful, meaningful writing.
Bill T - January 10, 2018 9:05 pm
Losers, if patient, most of the time will win. In 1953 I fell in love with a rival high school cheerleader. Dated her and wanted her forever. She was in love with a local bad guy from a very well to do family high on the social register. Our families were mill workers. She married him and it did not work out. I went in the military, went overseas for three years and came back and got her. 4 kids, 3 grands and coming up on our 60th, it’s obvious who was the loser.
wendy franklin - January 10, 2018 9:12 pm
I’m a blessed little sister to my only sibling who’s 6 yrs older than I. He’s my best listener to my whines. God bless him & all the good ones who genuinely care & love us enough to listen to our happy & not-so-happy reports.
I agree with others, Sean, that your date was the real loser. I may not sound mature, but I do hope she’s aware! ☺
Dru - January 10, 2018 10:34 pm
The day I found my big brother’s lost toy rifle in tall grass, he was so overjoyed that I was allowed to play with him and his friends. “You can pick the game,” he said. “If you want to play Cowboys and Indians, you can be a cowboy! If you want to play Army, you can be American. If you want to play school, you can be the teacher!” His friends, thrilled to have the wonderful toy in their hands once more, nodded agreement. We played for hours in a vacant field under pale Saturday sun. It was one of the BEST days. That day, little sister wasn’t <.
Deena - January 10, 2018 11:10 pm
and she was exactly right.
Jack Darnell - January 11, 2018 1:07 am
There are times sisters are the best. I just got off the phone with my sister who is 81 and I am losing her to a terrible disease. She taught me to ride a bike, she thinks I am the best. I am losing her.
Hold tight to those memories my friend, hold tight.
Josey Humbert - January 11, 2018 3:24 am
You get that heart chord every single time.
Jones - January 11, 2018 7:10 pm
No way are you a loser. And don’t forget it!?
Jackie - January 13, 2018 11:58 pm
Best one yet! Nothing like a brother ❤️
Lin - March 29, 2018 8:42 am
Reminds me of the song, ” How do you like me now?” Not a loser, Sean, not a loser.
Becca - March 29, 2018 1:03 pm
My only sibling is 8 years older. He has had my back as far back as I can remember. Sibling relationships have a way of keeping each other connected to everything that seemed to matter as we maneuver this journey through life. As a little sister, I probably was a pain in the butt, but as an adult sister, he thinks I’m great. I think he’s great too! So thankful for my big brother.