I was at my sister’s house this weekend.  She is my only relative that is self-sufficient.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We are funny.  We don’t talk about the hardship of our mother and our brother’s conditions.  We mostly just go second-hand shopping and eat good food and drink good-ish wine.

We compete not with our or our children’s successes.  We compete by comparing our dogs.  We each have rescue dogs that are somewhat badly behaved.  They bark and steal food and don’t really care what we tell them to do unless it fits in with their plans.

Both our phones rang during the visit.  We both checked to see who was calling.  Mine had been Eddie many times.  I assume hers had been Eddie too…he is very balanced in his calling when he has a need.  I noticed I chose not to answer him.  Mostly because we were in second hand stores or sipping our good-ish wine in some eatery.  I noticed Vickie didn’t answer her phone either.  We didn’t mention that our brother was ringing the doorbells of our smart phones.

But Saturday night we were hunkered down watching her very limited television choices.  (She comes across a bit righteous in that she has only a few channels, but she seems to be quite happy when she’s at our house with the vast array of channels that cost about twenty dollars a month more than she pays.)

Our dogs have spent the day without us and have enjoyed barking wildly at any and all dogs and humans that passed by the well-used walking trail in front of her home.  They are mostly pooped out.  No one even tried to tame their protective glee.

We have forgone real food.  We eat smoked gouda, pistachios, and salt and pepper kettle chips with a bottle of chilled red wine Vickie had mistaken for white wine, thus the chilling.  It was a good wine, better than we usually have, and it really needed a minute in the microwave or something, but we drank it chilled anyway.

My phone rang.  I didn’t even look.  We were searching for anything but the Shawshank Redemption on the TV, (her package has one station that is always playing only the Shawshank Redemption…and every time we turn it to that channel the rape scene is just about to occur and I scream to change the channel and no one ever gets that I just saved the evening.)  We often watch the hot brothers on the home improvement channel…a channel I never watch at my own home due to the vast array of other stations I have there.

Vickie’s phone rang.  She looked.  “It’s Eddie,” she said.  “Should I answer?”  The cool red wine softened my reluctance to hear his latest need.  “Sure,” I say.

Vickie answers, “Hi Ed…..no, it Vickie….really?  I sound like Beth…no it’s Vickie.  What?  Ed…it really is me.  What’s going on?  Your computer?  What’s wrong?  Oh…you can’t get onto Internet Explore?”  A very long pause during which I formulate my response to him thinking Vickie sounds like me.  “Oh, I think that’s not a big deal…someone there should be able to help you.”

I put my hand out for the phone.

She has to reassure him a million times that his computer isn’t wrecked, that it just needs someone to get the internet connecting program to come up.  Throughout these millions of explanations she occasionally says, “Ed, it is me…its Vickie…I don’t care if I sound like Beth.”

Finally she says, “As a matter of fact Beth is right here and wants to talk to you.”

I grab the phone, “Eddie,” I say with feigned anger. “Do I sound like Vickie?…Hear me…do I sound like Vickie?”

“Well,” he says between inhaled laughter, “when I hear you both I can tell the difference.”

“Eddie, come on….who is cooler?”  I asked.

Vickie yells, “Ohhhhhh!” as if I have fouled her in a game.

Eddie gets hysterical.  “I am not going to answer that…I am not going to get into trouble.”

“That’s because I am cooler,” I say.

He is crazy with laughter….”Don’t say that to Vickie.”  He says.

“Because it’s true?” I ask.

He laughs some more, “A little bit, but don’t say that to Vickie.”

I am so very happy at that moment with ankles swelling from the months’ worth of sodium I’ve just ingested and the cool red wine oozing its calm through my veins and the looking to the television where Vickie has just found the premier of the first Borne Identity on her lousy stations, but at least an adorable young Matt Damon is looking at me.

I guess we are competitive about three things…our dogs, our television viewing opportunities, and who Ed thinks is cooler….maybe who gets the best stuff at the second hand places…

Just as I am relaxing into my win my naughty dog comes out of her coma and licks the gouda with an open mouthed kiss.  Vickie just looks at me with that older sister superior look.  The dogs’ bad behavior trumps all, even Eddie, in our weird little world.  The point and evening go to Vickie.

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