Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Little Sis, Big Sis

There comes a time in every girls life when she realises that she is not getting any younger.

Don't get me wrong, (oh, my God, I sound just like mother), I still feel very young at heart and as genes go, I chose my parents well.

I have always looked young for my age and for a while this did not play in my favour - not so much in relationships (which man doesn't want to go out with someone who has the worldly wisdom of a 25 year old, but the looks of a 19 year old?) but more with respect to work. Throughout my twenties my face refused to age and hence I commanded the respect of an office junior.

At University in my late twenties, I looked the same age as all of the other students, but being mentally older than my actual years was deemed way too sensible and boring to fit in (oh pullease, Been there, done that. I went through the binge drinking and staggering home at all hours years ago, and had been out from under the watchful eye of my parents since my fellow students were still chewing on rusks). I didn't want to be in their gang anyway.

As I have tiptoed through my thirties, things have improved. I am now receiving a little more respect because I look old enough to make an adult decision, but am still receiving compliments that I don't look a day over, oo, 32. And sometimes less, which is nice.

And no matter what age I reach, my older sister is always three years ahead of me. And she's always looked older than me.

Looking at our childhood photos, it was obvious who was older. I guess it's not rocket science to distinguish a 3 year old from a 6 year old, or a 14 year old from an 11 year old. We were visibly very different - my sister had a slightly broader face and darker, thicker hair. She was always much taller and stronger (compared to my 'runt of the litter' look with three hernia operations under my belt by the age of six) and she was always more interested in clothes than I was. It took a long while to separate me from my M&S boys shoes, staypress trousers and Harrington jacket. So she always looked and behaved more grown up, whereas I was the tomboy cheeky monkey, splodding about in the background, making mud pies, climbing trees and falling off my bike (and yes, I am still talking about my twenties here).

The only thing that was really the same about us is that we were granted the same voice box - we sounded identical. This has led, in the past, to some rather amusing phone conversations - even our parents occasionally get it wrong if we don't announce who we are at the start of a call. Highly entertaining if you have a devious mind.

But with every passing year, we have started to look more and more like each other. My hair has grown darker, my face has filled out slightly, I am wearing heels more often and am choosing my clothes more carefully. Every now and then I might even pass for a grown up.

All the same, I am still the younger sister. That is still clear, surely?

Apparently not.

This weekend my sister joined me at the Kabbalah Centre for Shabbat. I wish I'd had a hidden camera to film the response. We were wearing very similar clothes, our hair was almost the same, our height was similar due to my choice of heels. Yes, we looked the same - even down to the bags under our knackered (but beautiful blue) eyes.

Close friends who knew Nicola was coming by were stunned by the similarity, and then even more so when she started talking and sounded just like me.

One acquaintance stopped to have a quick conversation with me, then caught sight of my sister out of the corner of her eye and did a cartoon double take, jaw dropped as though caught up in a David Blaine illusion.

Yes, don't we look and sound the same, me and my lovely Big Sister.

And for a second I was so proud. Until a close friend innocently asked "So, which one of you is older?"

I nearly swallowed my own tongue. Ahem, excuse me?? What do you mean, "which one of you is older?" It's clearly bloody obvious which one of us is bloody older, my big bloody sister is bloody older. That's who's bloody older. I'm the little sister. I've always been the little sister. Look, see, I'm littler. I look like the little sister and I act like the little sister and I'm sure I told you last week that my big sister was coming down for Shabbat today. When was the last time you had an eye test, just out of curiosity? Is that labrador with you? What is this place, the RNIB?

Which one of you is older, I ask you.

Flaming cheek.

And for a while I was concerned - are my looks starting to fade? Has the fairytale ended already?

I console myself the only way I can - with pride that somehow, my Big Sister has started to look younger....


  1. I'm a little sister by 13 minutes, so I completely understand where you're coming from.

  2. I suspect the sad truth is a mathematical one. When she was 6 and you were 3 the difference in age was enormous 100%. By the time she is 100 and you are 97 the difference will be minute. Just accept it and thank someone for the family genes which will allow you to conduct the experiment.

  3. lulu: those minutes make all the difference!

    Alan: Yes, I was kind of gutted to work that one out for myself on Saturday. I guess my little sister excuses are disappearing fast...