The black sheep

For a while, before my youngest brother inexplicably felt the need to change his user name to “Fenjamin B-[long, foreign-sounding last name you probably already know],” typing my last name into Facebook yielded extremely telling results.

My brothers’ profile pictures always included some combination of the following: rocks, mountains, danger, ropes, friends with green hair. They were typically set somewhere exotic, like Africa or New Hampshire.

My photo, on the other hand, featured a sparkly pink princess crown, an over-dramatic expression and a large bottle of champagne (ok, fine, Andre.) Kind of like a combination of my current masthead (age 3) and the picture on my “about” page (age 22.)

The symbolism of said search results was brought to my attention by my friend J. “Have you ever typed your last name into Facebook?” he asked. “It’s hilarious.”

Hilarious, indeed. And sometimes that’s the extent of it – it’s funny, fun and even useful to have brothers so different from me. I’ve used their snowboarding terminology to impress many a boy and dropped phrases I don’t understand (“Red Rocks,” “belay”) to make myself seem cool among outdoorsy folk. (Actually, that last one only happened when I was visiting them at Dartmouth. In real life, I don’t associate with those who use carabiners for anything other than holding keys.)

But there are times when being the black sheep of your family (if my parents had Facebook profiles, god forbid, they would fall squarely in the mountains/green hair group too) becomes problematic. Take the family vacation. I am grateful – really, I am – that I have gotten the chance to see so many places. I know I’m lucky that my parents opted to use some of their disposable income to haul us off to Montana and Wyoming instead of storing it away in their own personal Botox fund. I just wish that some of those places were a little warmer, that some of the activities were a little more…relaxing. You know – more laying on a beach and drinking a pina colada than scaling cliffs and skiing glaciers.

But that’s just not how they do things. Going to Europe for a cousin’s wedding? Clearly we’re going to hit up the French alps on the way, strategically avoiding all nearby cities. Winter break? Let’s go somewhere colder than it already is in Connecticut! We’ve only traveled southbound (save the mandatory pilgrimages to the family home my grandparents’ Century Village condo) once.

In the years since such learning experiences as the Dude Ranch Disaster of ’95, I’ve learned to either leverage my presence at family vacations into material goods (you don’t even want to know what I got for skiing at Vail) or to refuse attending at all. It’s worked out pretty well thus far, save that Scottish countryside faux pas last month. But this weekend…oh, this weekend. Kids, this weekend I am voluntarily trooping up to Vermont with my parents. To go skiing.

But wait, there’s more! Dave’s coming too.

And so is his brother.

And so is Christie Lee.

This should be interesting.

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