by Elizabeth Carey
April 2011

Walking into their home, the first thing you notice is that there are three of them, three in this family; three sisters, that is. There is the oldest, Elizabeth; the one in the middle, Maddy; and the one they call The Baby; her name is Kathy. They still call her The Baby even though she is nineteen years old. As you would expect they are bickering. The oldest is yelling at the middle one about stealing a gray shirt. The Baby is laughing at them because she took the shirt. This is the typical scene.

I will begin with the oldest one, because she seems never to be at a loss for words. She is loud, a bit domineering even. She appears to be the director of the show, organizing the other two. The Baby doesn’t seem to mind this; the middle one, however, fights it tooth and nail. They have the type of dynamic you would expect from three sisters. There is the bossy one, the one who has to be different, and the easygoing one.

The oldest one will tell you that she is their parent’s favorite. She knows this, of course, because she has spent the most time with them. She reminds her sisters of this often. She was born seven years before the second sister came along, so she says this makes her the expert on her parents. She is the one who plans and organizes Mother’s Day brunch and Father’s Day barbecue, and who tells her sisters what gifts to buy for their parents and Grandma. She gives this direction in order to make their lives easier; this is what she says. She knows how things are supposed to be.

The oldest has long, strawberry blonde hair. She is shorter than the other two. She dresses simply, in jeans and a tank top. The oldest complains that the other two always take her things, use up the last of the shampoo, and eat all the food in the house. The middle always answers that she didn’t take the stuff or eat the food. She doesn’t like the eldest’s shampoo and doesn’t borrow her clothes because they are too big. The oldest lives by a regimented schedule and cannot be separated from her Filofax day planner. She runs 6-10 miles a day; her sisters think she’s insane. The middle one says the oldest is a classic Type A personality.

The middle one is different in comparison to her sisters. She likes to read Edgar Allen Poe and take long walks. She spends a lot of time in solitude. The oldest one says she’s weird, the middle one says she’s contemplative, and The Baby doesn’t care. The middle one is a Psychology major at VCU. Her older sister says this is very fitting, seeing as the middle one is crazy (the oldest one likes to interject her opinions quite often). The middle one didn’t choose a school close to home, like her sisters did, she wanted to move away, but not too far. She dresses differently as well. Her style is more gothic rag-doll, and she dyes her naturally blonde hair a dark brown color. She wears dark eye makeup and stays out of the sun. She says she likes to be pale; she isn’t going to die of skin cancer like the other two will. She has her own sense of style and doesn’t want to look like an American Eagle ad, as the other two and all of their friends do. The middle one isn’t cookie cutter. She listens to the oldest one give her orders about this and that, and ignores her. She has her own ideas about Grandma’s birthday present. She knows what Grandma likes too, and doesn’t have to listen to the oldest one. The middle one says she is their parent’s favorite because she is the “good” daughter and doesn’t get into trouble like the other two. She says the oldest stays out all night and talks back to the parents and The Baby smokes pot all the time. The middle one is the “good” daughter.

The Baby is calmer and more relaxed than the other two (probably due to all the pot). The oldest is a bit demanding and the middle one is a bit blunt. The Baby, however, just seems to go with the flow. This is apparent in her attire and general appearance as well. She wears cut-off shorts and loose, hippy-like flowing tops. Her hair is long and red, worn straight down and in her face. She doesn’t wear much makeup. She likes to lie around at the pool or the beach, and her favorite thing to do is go to barbecues. I notice that she laughs at the other two as they argue back and forth. The Baby thinks she is their parent’s favorite. She says that she is the only one who isn’t “bitching” all the time and bossing everyone around. She is the only “sane” daughter they have. She doesn’t cause any fights or scream and yell. She doesn’t become anxious or controlling. Mostly she sits back and laughs at the other two. The oldest one and the middle one each confide in The Baby. They think that she is the best listener and never stop to wonder if she might just be daydreaming.

The oldest complains about how easy the other two have it. When she was in high school, she was grounded all the time. There was the incident where she got caught sneaking out of her second story window to see her boyfriend at 2:00am. There were numerous times when she got in trouble for skipping school or breaking curfew. One time a police officer brought her home because, apparently, if you are under eighteen in Prince William County, there is a midnight curfew. Her parents thought she was at a slumber party, not a keg party. The oldest says she spent almost her entire waking life grounded and it isn’t fair because the other two never get in trouble for anything.

The middle one says she never got in trouble because she was the good one and didn’t disobey. The oldest says the middle one was a nerd. The middle one says she was the smart one, and now that she’s away at college, she can do whatever she wants; she’s the smart one.

The Baby says she didn’t have to sneak out of the house; she never had a curfew. She also never had to skip school; their mother would write a note to excuse her from school. The Baby laughs as she talks about being able to get away with all these things. She says it’s because she is the responsible one, and her parents trust her.

This issue of who is the favorite seems to be of some contention. Each of the sisters says her parents have told her that she is the favorite and that this has happened on numerous occasions. Each sister is very firm in her belief that she is the favorite, and each has a justifiable argument for her case. This is an ongoing dispute, which their parents will not settle.

All of the bickering subsides when they discuss someone they mutually disdain. The Baby’s last boyfriend, for example: That Guy. When the subject comes up, the three sisters are like a pack of wolves tearing apart a deer.

That Guy cheated on The Baby. All three sisters are equally disgusted with this low-life creature, and they sit at the table and discuss ways to get back at him. The oldest suggests egging his house. The middle one contemplates psychological warfare, something to make him think he’s gone crazy. The Baby says she hopes he gets some horrible flesh-eating disease. They insult That Guy for over an hour. The oldest one and the middle one explain to The Baby what a jerk That Guy is and how much better off she is without him. They tell The Baby that she was too good for That Guy in the first place. Then they analyze all the jerks they have dated between the three of them. They go through a list, badgering each guy on the list: That Guy, Dumb Guy, Loser Guy. It is a long list. After the sisters get it all out of their systems, The Baby says, “See, that’s why you’re my favorites.”

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