Relative Discourse

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Relative Discourse

There can be no situation in life in which the conversation of my dear sister will not administer some comfort to me.” -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

“There you are.”

“Oh c’mon now”, Joy said as she walked up a pathway to the bench.  “One of us has a husband who wants attention, a house that’s a wreck, and two small children.  The other spends most of his nights watching videos and chasing down Cheetos with Mountain Dew.  And yet you asked me to meet you in a park closer to your place than mine.”

“I’ll have you know that I’ve changed”, Jim said.   “I replaced Mountain Dew with Diet Mountain Dew.”

“Well that’s something.  Are you intending to go the Baked Cheetos route as well?”

“Ick.  White Cheetos?  Why would I do that?”

“I didn’t think so”, Joy replied as she sat by her brother.  “But you were insistent that I meet you as soon as possible, so I figured some big life event had taken place.  If you started living off of food that doesn’t have corn syrup as a main ingredient, that would certainly qualify.  You do know what real cooking tastes like, right?  It’s that stuff we eat when you’re over at my place?”

“Do you really think I asked you to come out at nine in the morning, on a Saturday, nonetheless, to get lectured about my diet?  I’m still somewhat thin, aren’t I?”

“Skinny doesn’t always mean healthy”, Joy said as she shook her pointer finger.  She looked at her hand and her eyes widened with horror.  “Oh no…”

“Yep”, Jim said as he diagnosed the gesture.  “Total Mom-move.  Congrats; you’ve turned.”

“You hush”, Joy said as she forced herself to put her hand down.  “Besides, we’re not going to talk about my domestic nightmares coming true.  We’re talking about the fact that you finally kissed her last night.”

“How did you know?”  It was Jim’s turn to have the whites of his eyes grow larger, only his expression came from astonishment at his sister’s apparently clairvoyant ways.

“It’s all over your face”, she calmly replied.

“She left lipstick on my face?”

“Ugh.  No, I was talking about the expression on your face.”


“Does this mean you didn’t wash at all since then?”

“It was only last night.”

“Shower.  Scrub your face.  Brush your teeth”, Joy lectured.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“How are you getting women to kiss you when you’re all grimy?”

“I thought you were trying to avoid sounding like Mom”, Jim retorted.

“That’s not being Mom”, Joy responded.  “That’s just common hygiene.”

“Uh huh.”

“So are we going to talk about this epic kiss or what?”  Despite the seemingly impatient tone in Joy’s voice, she was a woman of immense inner-calm.  Wearing a light fleece jacket, workout pants and tennis shoes, she was ready for whatever the world threw at her.  The busy life that she led meant that her shoulder-length black hair was always pulled back in a ponytail.  Only for formal family functions would she spend the effort to style her hair.  Her coworkers had only ever seen her trademark ponytail, even at fancier functions.  Joy simply didn’t have time. Also, she was genuinely self-confident.  She had a family that loved her, a career that challenged her and a bookshelf full of reading material.  By any standards, this woman in her early-thirties was a formidable, yet surprisingly soothing individual.

“Look, let me just get this out in my own way, would ya?”  If there was anyone who respected Joy, but wasn’t too impressed by her, it was Jim.  He was five years younger than her, which meant that she felt as though she was old enough to tell him what to do when they were children.  Jim was the little brother who was unwittingly talked into attending tea parties and playing with dolls.  Jim was the one who was told that it would be okay for him to sit on the handlebars while Joy bicycled recklessly down the steep hill by their house.  (“He said he wanted to do it”, had been Joy’s response when she had to explain how Jim ended up thrown into a series of blackberry bushes.)

Around the time that Jim was finishing junior high and Joy was starting college, the two started really talking to each other.  Their parents believed that the two just needed a little distance to appreciate what they liked about the other.  Jim started high school and wanted advice from his valedictorian sister and head of the drama department on how to survive the experience.  Joy, stressed by the demanding school load she had created for herself and frustrated by her slob roommates, liked recalling the simpler days of life.  When Joy graduated and moved back to the same area, the two siblings started visiting each other regularly.  If there was dirt to be had, the brother-sister pairing were the first to know.

“Has mom even met this girl yet?”

“Are you kidding me?”  Jim shook his head vehemently.  “Joy, we aren’t even a couple.”

“Wait, you’re not?  You haven’t shut up about this Cheryl person for three months.”

“I was wearing her down.  Don’t worry; your little brother can be a very smooth operator.”

“More like a very slow operator.  So what prompted this whole kissing scene?”

“Well, we had the talk in my car last night”, Jim explained.

“Wait, the talk?  As in the talk?  You’re sleeping with her?”

“No!  Good grief, how am I going to sleep with her if we just kissed?”

“Well, you said it was the talk.”

“I meant the ‘define the relationship’-talk.  Not the sex-talk!”

“Oh, well then you call your talks different things.  Just, y’know, take it slow.  Respect her needs too.”

“I know, Joy.”

“No really, pay attention to her.  You aren’t the only once dancing the horizontal polka.”


“And please, for all of our sake, wear some protection.”

“Joy!  Stop!”

“I know you want to make Dad a grandfather again, but he’s in no big hurry.”

“I’m going to smother you in your sleep.  Charlie will understand when I explain how his wife tortured me.”

“And when you get up afterwards to get some food from the kitchen?  Make sure you offer to get her something.”

“Oh.  Dear.  Word.”

“Hey, somebody’s gotta stand up for this new girl in your life.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for my sister’s sick sense of humor.  She can’t be stopped.”  Jim stopped addressing the imaginary audience and turned his attention to Joy.  “Do you want me to tell Mom the truth about the car crash of prom?”

“You’re just jealous.  That raccoon story was genius and you know it.”

“So that’s it?”  Jim proceeded with caution.  “We’re done talking about my non-existent sex life?”

“That’s what you get for giving Charlie the talk”, Joy replied.

“The talk?  Ew, I would never have a sex talk with Charlie.  That’s gross!”

“Oh good grief.  Not that talk; you really gotta figure out these conversations.  Remember, when you threatened to have all your hockey friends meet him in a dark alley if he hurt me?”

“I also recall telling him that that conversation was just between the two of us.  I was hoping that he understood that it was an accord between gentlemen.”

“Uh huh.  Well the way he tells it you were wearing a Goofy t-shirt when you pulled him aside to chat with him.”

“Don’t knock the shirt.  That shirt is awesome.”

“Is that what Sharon thinks?”

“Sharon happens to like Disney movies quite a bit, yes.”

“But not in the creepy way?”  Joy leaned in close and poked Jim in the shoulder.

“How so?”  Jim couldn’t tell if his sister was teasing or not.  Either way, she had succeeded in making him curious.

Photo from Wikipedia

“Oh, there are two kinds of Disney fans.  There are the ones who like the movies as well-told stories and a cherished part of their childhood.  And then there are those that have Minnie Mouse wallpaper and keep four stuffed animal characters on their beds and wear the same Disney costumes to every Halloween party.”

“She’s not like that.”

“I should hope note.  Every party, Jim; it’s not pretty.”

“No, Sharon’s not that crazy.  I get enough of that from you.”

“And I got chickenpox from you.”

“I still maintain you gave it to me before I gave it to you.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

“That’s how devious you are.  I’ve seen your paystubs; I know how devious you’re paid to be.”

“Sharon.  You.  Kissing.  Talk.”  Even Joy’s patience had its limits.

“What, you want the details?”

“Do you know how long it’s been since Charlie and I made out in a car?”

“No, and I don’t really want to…”

“Three years.  Three.  We dropped off Nick after our first night alone since he was born and we spent two hours of the night just making out in the car.  Those kids’ll suck the life out of ya.  Just you wait and see.”

“…hear about it.”  Jim shook his head at his sister.  “Why are we having this conversation?”

“Because I’m still cooler than Mom.  And Dad’s head would explode.”

“Oh man, it so would.”

“Sharon.  Kissing.  No stalling.”

“Well, one of my friends gave me tickets to see a play.”

“What kind?”


“Unnh.  Tragedy?”


“Better.  And did you tell her they were free?”


“Perfect.  Dinner?”

“Uh, that Italian restaurant on fourth?”

“The one by the gas station?”

“I think so?  It’s new.”

“Jim, that opened like four years ago.”
“Well I hadn’t been before.  It was her choice.”

“Good.  And you paid?”  Joy was using her voice that meant there really was one correct answer.

“Uh huh, but we agreed she’d cover the tip.”

“Very good.  You’ve learned.”

“A glass of wine in the face has that effect on a guy.”

“Dating a wacko like Susan will have that effect too.”

“True, but she was fun”, Jim replied.

“There’s ‘fun’, and then there’s ‘spend a night incarcerated while the cops at the border search your vehicle for drugs’.  Not a phone call I want repeated.”

“Well Sharon isn’t like that.”

“Points to her”, Joy said.  “And what’d you wear?”

“Polo shirt.”

“Hrrm.  Blue one or black one?”

“Black one with jacket.”

“Oooh, much better.  You are learning.  And did you get her flowers?  Was this a ‘date’-date?”

“Flowers, but not large, intimidating ones.  Simple daisies.”

“Very good.  And she liked the play?”

“I think so.  We kinda started to fall asleep towards the end.  It was two and a half hours with no intermission.”

“Ah, yeah that would do it.”

“So we started using each other to keep awake.”

“Oh really?”  A mischievous smile took over Joy’s face.  “How so, Mr. Cool?”

“We only had the one armrest, which I let her have for the first two hours.  But then I snuck my hand on top of hers.  Y’know, let my fingers rest in between hers?  A little light sliding of my finger along hers.  And then I did a subtle scooting in my seat towards hers”

“And did she take the bait?”

“Her head was soon on my shoulder.”

“Jim!  Look at you, my little brother does have some moves.”

“I’ve been telling you that for years.”

“Yes, you’ve been wrong many of those times.  Now you’re starting to figure it all out.”

“So then we went back to my car after the show.”

“Did you open the car door for her?”

“Naturally.  I also let her borrow my jacket when we walked out of the theatre in case she was cold.”

“I was going to say…”

“Yes, yes.  ‘Take the jacket off or she’ll call the date off.’  I remember.”

“So you’re sitting in the car together.  Front seat or back?”

“Front. Why would we be in the back?”  Jim saw the shrug of his sister’s shoulders and suddenly understood.  “What is wrong with you?”

“Hey, I’ve had some fun in back seats over the years.”


“Oh, relax.  It was all perfectly PG-13.  No R-rated.”  Joy paused.  “Actually, I take that back.  Steven was probably getting close into R-terrain.”

“Joy!  C’mon!”

“What, he was very affectionate and he played football.  Nothing like ‘that’ happened.”

“You had much more fun in high school than I did.”

“How else would I be able to dole out this much wisdom in your time of need?”

“Right.  Anyways, Sharon and I just sat there, looking at each other.”  Jim was much more comfortable talking about his own escapades than reliving his sister’s.

“And?  Lemme guess, you ran your fingers through her hair and then put your palm on her cheek?”

Jim was stunned.  “How did you know?”

“Guys always do that, especially when women have their hair down.  It’s like guys think they just have to touch it.  It’s only hair!  But the hand on the cheek is always nice.”

“Well I leaned in…”

“And she leaned in?”

“Yep.  I told her that I really liked being around her.”

“You talked before you kissed her?”

“Yeah, I wanted to tell her how I felt.”

“Jim, that’s very sweet.  But just shut and kiss the poor girl for goodness sakes.  She’ll get the idea.”

“I like talking.”

“Yeah, but don’t you like kissing?”


“Trust me on this.  Kiss first, talk later.  Then kiss again.”  Joy paused and then punched her brother lovingly in the shoulder.  “How was it?”

“The kiss?”

“No, the pasta sauce.”

“Very nice.  Soft, moist; simple.  Not a make out-kiss, just a tender coming together.”

“Man, Mom and her movies from the forties really softened you up.”

“At least I don’t watch The Notebook.”

“Well then you’ll never understand how great it is”, she said as she stuck out her tongue.  “Seriously though; do you like this girl?  Sorry; woman.  I still don’t think you should be old enough to be dating women.  Stupid aging.”

“Yeah.  Yeah I really do.”

Public domain due to age.

“And she likes you back?”

“Well we’ve already texted about four times since then.”

“A nice sign.  So you’re happy?”

“I am.  I really am.”

“Then that’s all I need to know.”  Joy hugged her brother and then sat back against the park bench.

She watched two little ducks interacting at the edge of the grass.  One clearly thought it was in charge of the other and nudged it along with the top of its bill.  The smaller duck quacked in protest, and the two waddled side by side back into the lake.  With two little splashes, the small ducks pedaled through the water in search of adventures they could share.


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

2 Responses to Relative Discourse

  1. s1ngal says:

    I have a brother but this is not happens with us. However, I have a boy cousin and with him this IS EXACTLY what happens… i miss him already 😥

  2. Yes, I have a best friend that I would probably have this chat with. My sister is far too goody goody. 😉

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