Christmas was nice — a fun rundown of our new household toys shall be forthcoming! — but not as relaxing as I’d hoped. I can trace the stress to a couple sources.
First, at every Christmas party I was quizzed constantly about my job situation by Econo Man’s family and friends, and repeatedly faced the question “but what about jobs in Boston? Aren’t you looking in Boston? When will you get to be in Boston?” Yes, I am looking, but there just isn’t much out there and I may have to take something in another city. Econo Man’s family and friends were quietly but obviously horrified at the prospect of me abandoning my husband for yet another year. Justifiably or not, I felt like a complete failure as I stumbled to explain why I can’t find anything in Boston, the city with the highest concentration of universities in the country. I didn’t leave the party to cry in the bathroom, but I came close.
Second, my brother. Like a lot of folks, he’s out of work — he was downsized from a job he loved this summer and has been on unemployment. He’s not doing much in the way of looking for a job or acquiring new training to be more competitive, which is frustrating, but none of my business. It’s tough out there, I know that as well as anyone right now!
But I don’t like the way he’s treating the people around him, especially my parents. Bro has decided he can get whatever he wants by acting like an angsty hormonal teenager and flying off the handle whenever something doesn’t go his way. This life strategy has served him well in the world of retail, where his willingness to complain and argue and be extremely unpleasant has netted him significant discounts on such things as his cell phone service (reason: dropped calls) and his rental tux for my wedding (reason: shirt was too short). But he’s starting to apply this strategy to family, and it really annoys me.
Example: Yesterday morning, as Econo Man and I prepared to go to the airport, Bro calls my mom and asks her if someone’s going to be home between noon and 5pm, because he’s shipping yet another car part to her house and someone needs to sign for it.* Mom says sorry, she’s taking us to the airport and the Southern Gentleman** is going to the gym. Bro throws a fit — why can’t they do him this simple favor? Why can’t Econo Man and I take a cab so Mom can stay home? Can’t the Southern Gentleman postpone the gym until after the box comes? Mom says sorry, but she’s signed for dozens of boxes in the past six weeks, and she can’t always be home to act as his personal concierge. Bro hangs up on her in a huff.
But the end result of Bro’s crummy behavior is exactly what he wants: the Southern Gentleman tells Mom he will wait until she returns from the airport to visit the gym, so someone can always be home to sign for my brother’s stupid car part.
He’s got everyone walking on eggshells trying to avoid upsetting him, and it’s obnoxious. My mother and the Southern Gentlemen are both offended by his newly-acquired foul mouth (he’s decided the “f” word is appropriate before every single noun and adjective) but don’t want to say anything for fear of making him mad. And I do it too! I spent 2 days rearranging the entire family’s Christmas Eve plans because Bro had a tantrum about how he HAD to have his whole family together that night.***
So now I’m back in Boston and facing a conundrum. Should I say something to my brother about the way I saw him act this week? On the one hand, his relationship with my parents is not really my business or something I should be meddling with. On the other hand, he wasn’t very considerate of me either, and it kind of spoiled large parts of my Christmas (and Econo Man’s too, since he had to listen to me bitch). Plus, since I’m safely ensconced on the East Coast, the downside of him being mad at me and not speaking to me is fairly minimal. Maybe I need to take one for the team and piss him off in order to give him a wake-up call.
Any other sibling issues out there? Am I being an overly meddlesome big sister, or should I speak up and tell him that 25 is too old to throw tantrums and act like a whiny little brat?
* Bro has been ordering tons of car parts lately. My mom estimates that this is box #20 in the past month and a half.
** My mom’s partner, who lives with her in Denver.
*** Which we haven’t done in about ten years, even before my parents’ divorce, largely because my brother was always ditching us to hang out with his buddies on the evening of the 24th. But hey, who’s keeping track?
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