Getting to Know My Family: Meet Stewart, My Favorite Brother

“Don’t you lift those bag of wood chips,” my mother screamed at my father from the bedroom window. “They’re 50 pounds each! Kathleen will do it.” I stood up from the log pile, put down the axe, and looked at my father.

Just righting a fallen tree... Can't Stewart do it?

“You can put them in the wheelbarrow,” he said to me. “This way you can take them all to the top of the yard at once.”

“Them all” equated to 6 bags.  “The top of the yard” meant an acre uphill trek.

“Can’t you get Stewart to do it?” I whined with a grunt as I threw the first bag over my shoulder.

I grew up in the suburbs of Manhattan. At an early age, I was introduced to art and music and exposed to the cosmopolitan life.  I took ballet, rode horses, played the violin at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and fenced. One might argue that I was raised to marry into royalty, but I’d swear my parents raised me to be the wife of an Iowa farmer… in 1860.

I don’t know whether it was the Thanksgiving Day vacuuming accident that landed my mother in the ER or the conversation my father overheard my girl friends and me having about our bench-press goals, but something convinced my parents that their little girl was good at physical labor. Once they discovered they were right, I was done for.

The fridge has to be moved. No problem, Kathleen will do it. The fence needs to be power-washed. No problem, Kathleen will do it. We’re having 10 people over for a 3-course dinner. No problem, Kathleen will take care of it.

I say, why can’t Stewart do it?

Stewart is my dreamy, 6’2, rugged, utilitarian imaginary brother. That’s right. I’m 25 and I have an imaginary brother.

Stew has a knack for making me laugh, particularly in the kitchen

Stewart is the type of brother who tied the feet of my pajamas together when I was a toddler, called me “Tubs” during my awkward tween years, and glued the shampoo bottles shut  on the night of my first date.  Now at the age of 29, he has out grown his prankster days and settled into a well-groomed, gently-teasing, over-protective big brother. He played rugby for Columbia and earned a masters in architecture from MIT. He’s the kind of brother who’s good at lifting and fixing stuff. He’s the kind of brother my parents would have adored but failed to provide.

“Why can’t Stewart do it!” My parents laugh. They know what I’m trying to tell them — it was very inconsiderate to leave me as an only child. “Why can’t Stewart do it?” It’s a family joke now, but as I wheel the 300 lbs of wood-chips up the hill, I’m the only one not laughing.

“You know,” my friend Laurie said as I whined about my post-wood-chip-hauling back-ache and my MIA imaginary brother,  “you could just find yourself a boyfriend… a lumberjack boyfriend.”

She might be on to something.