Pictorial Evidence

Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime

It’s hard to believe that I was in the U.S for Christmas just two weeks ago. My Christmas holiday visit came and went so fast that it’s almost as though it didn’t happen. Sometimes, in the confused moments of lingering jetlag, I am not totally unconvinced that it wasn’t a dream.

Fortunately, I spent a lot of time with my sister in the U.S, so I have roughly 12,392 pictures to prove I was there.

My sister and I have known each other for about forty years. She is the second oldest sibling, twenty-two months younger than me, and so was my first DNA-sharing partner in crime. Ask my parents and they might suggest that “partner in crime” is an almost literal statement. See, at the age of three, I realized that efficiently torturing the youth and happiness out of my parents demanded a second party, which is where my sister came in.

And for the next ten years or so we did just that with several thoughtful, well-planned, poorly-executed hijinks. We broke things, ate things, and threw things. We snooped, crapped, and plotted. The only thing we were better at than doing bad things was getting in trouble for doing bad things. Fortunately, it turns out that neither of us are natural-born criminals, so more often than not we got nabbed. And when that happened I left her holding the bag as often as possible.

Believe it or not, my tendency to sell my closest friend, partner, and confidante down the river did nothing to damage our relationship. We remained close friends until we hit puberty a decade later and she embarked upon a seven-year period when everyone in the neighborhood referred to her as the “she-monster.” Not to her face, of course, as we were all afraid of her. Nobody who knew her then ever talks about it now.

And yet, my sister has grown into the opposite of the she-monster, and the nicest of my siblings (myself included). She is sweet and unassuming, will focus with genuine attentiveness on what people tell her. She looks down on talking bad about people behind their backs, while the rest of our family is governed by the notion that if you’re not there to defend yourself, well, that’s just your own damn fault. After two drinks she slips on a wide-eyed naivety persona, both easily amazed and entertained, and one who would cajole a shoulder rub out of Adolf Hitler if he happened to goosestep through the door.

Beneath this goofy exterior, is a hard-headed businesswoman. Lack though she does the funny gene and the biting wit the other three siblings have, she has instead developed a shrewd and clever business sense.

And you would be hard pressed to find another human being who takes as many photographs as she does, outside of those who write the word “photographer” on their W2 forms.

I don’t know when this started. But I am looking at the evidentiary photographs now – mostly on Facebook – and wondering when she was able to snap them. There are pictures of me at a bar, at the table in a bar, at the jukebox, and throwing darts. There are pictures of me watching her kids, playing with her kids, and telling her kids I don’t want to play. This might make more sense if they had all been snapped on the same afternoon, for example, but I am dressed differently in each one. And considering the fact that I did as little as possible to be clean and in fresh clothing while visiting the U.S, it means they were taken days apart.

Building on that, there are photos of me in (different) pajamas doing several things: writing, reading, looking through a window at a bird, eating cereal, scratching two parts of my body at once (and holding coffee, thus suggesting that I am more talented than I know).

The only pictures I remember are those of me eating. Rather, those of me waiting to eat. And the only reason I remember those is because every time we ate together she would force me to wait until she had snapped a photo of the event.

“Hold on!”



“You have got to be kidding me!”

“One more!” Snap.

“Stop it!”

I attempted to explain this bounty of photos by saying that I was visiting, I am special. A theory that holds up as long as one ignores the thousands of photographs of everything else that happened to be near us during that week: food, tables, aunts, houses, decorations, road signs, roadkill, televisions featuring signs, cars, and my father’s shoes.

It’s all there.

Partners in Glasses

Partners in Glasses

On New Year’s Eve, we had a quiet night which started with beers and burgers at our local bar: The Langhorne Hotel. We drank, ate (after a picture), had shots, admired the bartender’s butt, and chatted with a few people we knew. We then headed home and spent the rest of the night watching Twilight Zone episodes and It’s a Wonderful Life.

In the morning I was notified by Facebook that I had been tagged in a photo album by my sister. There were six pictures in all, featuring me, her, us, the food, me and the food, her and a chocolate martini, and us and the shots.

The extent and diligence of the photos were worthy of crime scene  evidence, I decided. The various angles, the exhaustive subject tagging and labeling, the documentation.

And then I realized that this is exactly what it was: crime scene evidence. It seems she hasn’t forgiven me for getting her into trouble all those years ago. The naive tipsy girl is a front; the cheeky business whiz is covering her bases. She knows exactly what she is doing. I was at once impressed and irritated. A slight anger overtook me.

And we thought the she-monster was gone.

  1. #1 by greg on January 14, 2016 - 6:55 pm

    That was nice.

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