My sister-in-law was talking about when I was kid. My brother is still friends, some twenty-plus years later, with Richard, his best friend from high school. Richard is kind of the the fifth child in my family. He's my brother's age, four years older than me, and he's been to every wedding in our family save one -- which only a blizzard stopped him from attending.
My s-i-l was saying that when my name comes up in conversation, Richard still cringes. Imitating him, she put her hand over her eyes and quoted, "I can't believe how horrible I was to her! And she was always so nice to us! She'd make us cookies and brownies all the time."
This perspective is simultaneously amusing and peculiar to me. (Richard has actually apologized to me, directly, for the way he treated me when we were growing up.) I remember being, as a child, very annoying. I was the annoying, whiny, tagalong younger sister. I had almost no friends of my own from when I was twelve until fifteen or so, and I hung out all the time with my siblings and their friends, trying to worm my way into their social circle because I couldn't get one of my own. I was too young and not adept at the things they wanted to do, so their reactions ranged from tolerance to abuse aimed at driving me away. (Incidentally, the brother I was visiting now was always the nicest person in my family, and quite tolerant).
And, in retrospect, I always thought of this as not unreasonable. I was annoying and wouldn't leave them alone, so they would be mean to try to drive me off. Sure, they could've been nicer to me -- but I also could've left them alone instead of trying to involve myself in everything they did, whether I was any good at it or not. Fair trade, right?
It never occured to me that Richard owed me an apology. (He was, as a rule, worse to me than any of my siblings were). It's strange to think that he'd still feel guilty about it, twenty years later.
I wonder if these childhood episodes, that sense of being a nuisance to the people I'm trying to be friendly with, is behind some of my lingering insecurities about friendships today.
I did bake a lot of cookies and brownies for them, though.
Anyway, we got to Sea World and sauntered to the gate from the parking lot. There, I went to get a ticket in. The others all had passes as part of the Discovery Cove package. I told the ticket agent, "I'd like a ticket for one."
The ticket agent said, "$64.36!"
"I thought there was a discount after two -- "
"But I was -- "
I wandered back to the rest and explained that either (a) there was no discount or (b) the ticket agent was unaware that there was a discount. My brother grumbled about the concierge. I told them that I wasn't all that keen about going to Sea World anyway, and $64.36 seemed kinda steep since I'd only be there three hours.
"Only three hours?" my eldest niece exclaimed. "Why?"
"I want to get back to see my friends, once they get off work."
"Because I came here to visit them. Don't you like to spend time with your friends?" Earlier, her mother had been telling me that five of my niece's friends had called her to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her. My niece is gorgeous, perky, gregarious, and, so far as I know, very popular.
"Yes," she said, "but not that I'd miss all this -- " she gestured around at Orlando in general and Sea World in particular " -- for. Why do you want to leave?"
And I thought about Sea World, and I thought about all the friends I'd come to Orlando to see, and thought that this really wasn't a hard choice at all. "My father will be here in a minute or two; I'll just ask him to drop me back at the hotel. I can see my mother for a bit and then go back to John's house."
And that's what I did.