Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Magic Shake-Ball

Okay, Michelle threw down the Only Child gauntlet, which leaves me no choice but to play the Middle Child card.

I grew up the third of four kids. Among many things, this meant that: 1) I didn't actually have a name for a while other than a "joke" nickname that my Dad's college roommates made up and that has stuck for 43 years; 2) I shared a room for 14 years; and 3) I was lucky if anyone remembered to put me in the car, much less give me a seat anywhere but in the "way back." Oh, and did I mention that I live in the shadow of my sister's gargantuan fame?

Now, Michelle is going to point to Hamlet and to Juliet to make her point. But let's not forget that Richard III was the third of four sons (Rutland, the youngest, bites it in 3 Henry VI). And, man, was he pissed about not being the eldest. That didn't work out well for anyone. And how about Young Richard, the Prince of Wales' little brother in Richard III? Sure, he cracks a lot of jokes about being small and alienated, but he's crying on the inside. Then there's Oliver from As You Like It who hates his little brother Orlando and denies him his rightful property, just 'cuz. And how about Bianca? She had to wait for someone to marry her shrewish older sister before she could even think about marriage herself.

There's only one way to settle this for good, though.

Magic Shake-Ball, is it worse to be an only child or to be a younger sibling?


Lady Grey: 'Twill grieve your Grace my sons should call call you father.

King Edward:
No more than when my daughters call thee mother.
Thou art a widow, and thou hast some children,
And by God's mother, I, being but a bachelor,
Have other some. Why 'tis a happy thing
To be the father unto many sons.
Answer no more, for thou shalt be my queen.

(3 Henry VI 3.2.99-106)


I rest my case. This 15th-Century "Brady Bunch" experiment, where Richard's older brother Edward marries the widow Grey and adopts her kids, ends with almost everyone dead by the end of Richard III. Edward frankly does a crappy job by playing favorites, choosing his step-kids over his blood kin; and then he has even more kids with the widow--which, as we've already discussed, only stokes Richard's Middle Child syndrome more.

The Magic Shake-Ball has spoken. Care for a re-shake, Michelle?

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