I want you to picture this in your mind's eye: Four women, two adorable shih tzus, an entirely pink kitchen complete with a Hello Kitty toaster, and Friends and Gilmore Girls playing on a near constant loop in the background. This is the reality that my brother lives in every day. I mean, so does my dad, but at least he knew what he was getting into. He signed on for this nightmare willingly. My brother, on the other hand, was born into this world not even suspecting that he was doomed to be followed by three little sisters who would occasionally make it their personal mission to annoy the living bejeezus out of him, and a mother who once solemnly told him during potty training that leaving the toilet seat up was "against the law". (For the record, I lived with him for a few months in college, and I'll be damned if I ever saw that seat left up once.)
My brother has endured more of his share of estrogen in his first few years of life than most men ever do, but here's the thing: He is not only completely tolerant and unfazed by us, but every single day he knocks that whole "being a brother" thing out of the park. I can't even imagine what our lives would be like if he weren't around, because even when he is totally quiet and lurking in the bro-topia of his basement bedroom, he is just a calming and patient human presence that we sisters take for granted on a daily basis. There are so many things that we count on him for that only a brother can do:
Being incredibly honest all the time
For better or for worse, brothers will absolutely and always tell you the truth. Sometimes it isn't what you want to hear, but odds are most of the time it's something you need to hear. They are our compass for normalcy for every now and then when we come unglued.
Knowing where the cool kids are
I'm genuinely suspicious that brothers were born with secret antennae that pick up "cool kid" signals, because my brother perpetually has the 411 on the bar scene or where people are hanging out to watch sports. And, of course, he always invites us because he never abuses his secret antennae privilege.
Shutting down creepy dudes who are creeping' on us
It sucks that we live in a world where men respect a man standing next to a woman more than the woman herself, but there is no denying the 100% effectiveness of, "Hey, that's my brother over there." The implication being, "Now back the hell up, you creep, before we team up and both take you down)." Sure, I have endless ways of deflecting unwanted attention from a random jerk, but if nothing else, the brother backup never fails to work.
The truth about what boys are thinking
I never had to read Cosmo growing up. I saved $3.99 a month and a lot of time being confused about what it meant when a guy was mean to me.
Remembering what food you like
Your brother is like your GrubHub soulmate. Because they prize food above almost all else, they are also the champions of remembering what everyone else likes, and they will always order your favorite stuff if you happen to be in the bathroom or whatever when the ordering goes down. THERE IS NO GREATER DEGREE OF BACK-HAVING THAN THIS.
Sniffing out bad boyfriends
If you don't get along with my brother, uhh, we can't date. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Beer, beer, beer
I've said it before and I'll say it again (especially because I just spent the entire Super Bowl pilfering through his Coors Light stash without permission): Brothers are magical beings who always have beer and are unduly forgiving about you stealing it.
Being genuinely happy for you
When I get good news, my brother is always one of the first people I want to tell. This is because brothers have a unique way of being unabashedly and ridiculously happy for your successes that will make you feel even better than you did when you got the good news in the first place.
Explaining things—without mansplaining anything
Full disclosure: I would have failed AP US History without my brother, and probably Algebra II as well. And God knows I whined his ear off even though it was obviously not his fault that our teachers gave us cruel workloads, but he was patient and never condescending for every second of it.
Everyone's brother is an expert in...something. Maybe that's microbiology and maybe it's dumb movies. Mine happens to know more about I do than sports and rock music, for instance, and he's never been shy about sharing his wealth of knowledge with me. In fact, he's always been thrilled to do so. In general, brothers are just super happy to impart whatever knowledge they have with you, instead of lording it over you to make you feel dumb.
Laughing at your awful jokes
Is there a pity laugh in this universe more rewarding than the ones your brother will offer you? Even if your joke misses the mark so hard that it has landed somewhere on Mars, your brother's got your back, filling the awkward public silence with his laughter so you never look like a tool.
Giving truly awesome hugs
Brother hugs: they don't happen nearly as often as sister hugs, but when they do, they are the unexpected cure to pretty much everything.
Staying calm when everything else has gone insane
With the exception of sporting events, my brother has this eerie ability to achieve a calm state of nirvana even when the rest of the house has flown past the exit to Stressville and barreled straight into Crazytown. In moments like those, you just need to be able to lock eyes with a person who doesn't have madness in theirs—that is what brothers are for.
Keeping your secrets
I trust him with my secrets more than anyone else in the world. He has kept secrets from when we were kids that I forgot were even secrets anymore.
Binge-watching television with you
Is there anybody more unquestionably down with mindlessly sitting on the couch with you for hours on end? Brothers are like Netflix co-pilots. I don't even want to know how much I could accomplish with the hours we've spent watching Scrubs reruns instead.
Offering unexpectedly amazing advice
For some reason, we don't think to go to our brothers for advice before we ask a sister or a friend, but brothers have this odd way of piping in with amazing advice without being prompted, so casually that you might miss it if you're not paying attention. And usually it's the soundest advice anyone has given you all day. Brothers are secretly wise wizards.
Never holding back in a competition
Honestly, if my brother ever "went easy on me" when we were growing up, I would not be the incredibly formidable human I am today. Brothers never saw their sisters as weaker or less capable, so they always put up a fair fight in any competition, and for me that was essential in cementing the crazy competitive person I am now. (Oddly, my brother is the chillest, least competitive person on the planet, which has only made me want to beat him more.)
Complimenting all your Pinterest fails
I have baked so many things that have come out of the oven looking like they just came out of Satan's butthole, but I can always rely on my brother to eat it anyway. That's what they do. Brothers will polish off anything with a thumbs up because they are human garbage disposals.
Listening with endless patience
I do not have enough fingers to count the mini existential crises my brother has let me word-vomit out to him over the years. Nobody has a way of making you feel heard quite like a brother does.
Like most humans, I am occasionally gross, awkward, and/or an all-around failure at life. Brothers love you no matter what. And if nothing else, they likely have horror stories of their own that will make you feel at least slightly better about whatever shenanigans you've gotten into this time.
A ride home. All the rides home.
I could call my brother from China to ask for a ride home and he would hop on a plane to come get me. This is partially because he speaks fluent Chinese, but also because there is literally nothing on this planet that would stop him from coming to get one of his sisters.
Never missing a beat
The best part about having a brother? Even in the unfortunate circumstances when you don't see each other for awhile, the instant you see each other again, you pick up exactly where you left off, as if no time had passed at all.
Images: NBC; Giphy (9)