Anhydrous Wit

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ain't It the Truth?

I've been reading a collection of Erma Bombeck's columns, which I checked out from the library.  It's rather extensive for a gathering of the "best" or "favorites", but I was glad to see my personal favorite included.  When I first read it at the age of ten, I thought, "This is it.  This is me."  It's still as true as it ever was.  Here is an excerpt from "Third Child" (November 5, 1981).

"...third children have no history.  There are no footprints of them in the baby book, no record of their baptism, no snapshots of their birthdays, and no report cards to show they ever were.  Their childhood diseases are uneventful, their first words fall on deaf ears, and toilet training is a lonely affair with no one to applaud their efforts.  The third child learns early that he is odd man out and has broken the family symmetry.  Kitchen chairs come four to a set, breakfast rolls four to a package, and milk four cups to a quart.  Rides at Disneyland accommodate two to a seat, the family car carries four comfortably, and beds come in twos not threes.  The third child is the one who gets called the other two's names before the mother finally remembers his.  He goes through a lifetime of comparisons:  'You're not going to be as tall as your brother... as smart as your sister... as athletic as your father."

With minor variations, all the above is true for me.  In my case, it was my grandmother who went through my father's and brothers' names before arriving at mine (I did note she went chronologically), and I was forever being asked by teachers, "Are you so-and-so's brother?" (as if they'd ever met anyone else named Chlorophyll).  Occasional pictures were taken of me in my childhood, but generally only at events where multiple family members were present.  My older brothers, I think, used up most of the film in the world before I was born.  I think there actually are more pictures of my Carvel birthday cakes than there are of me on my birthdays.


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