Last week, my brother called my phone while I was at work, a place where I don’t generally answer my phone because of HIPAA and stuff like that. He didn’t leave a message, so I figured I would call him back later and we’d catch up. I don’t remember if I called him or if he ended up calling and tracking me down, but when we connected, he admonished, “LCA, I called you, my older sister, to ask you important advice and you didn’t answer. So I had to have two drinks. That is no way to treat your little brother.” Homeboy was serious. I apologized and inwardly panicked because clearly, this was major and because I wasn’t there for him, he had to resort to alcohol to cope. I actually had to do a two-second self-talking-down-from-the-ledge and reassure myself that he might be angry and I might feel incredibly, irreparably guilty, but in my family, we historically don’t disown each other, so eventually, things might be a little bit OK. This is my standard reaction to things, I swear.

So there I was, sweating and wondering if I needed to reconsider my childfree stance just so that I would have a firstborn to give to Paul to appease him. And I said timidly, “What was it that you needed my advice about?” “Well, I got home from the lab and I decided I wanted to have a white Russian, but I wasn’t sure what went in a white Russian, so I tried to call and ask you, but you didn’t answer, so I had to try it with vodka and then with rum. I still don’t know if I got it right,” he explained.

My brother is Captain Sarcasmo, and you would think that after knowing him for 23+ years, I would understand this about him and become a tiny bit accustomed to his deadpan delivery, but no, that is not in the cards. And all this to say that I obviously have some kind of hangup about blame and guilt and stuff. I once read in O, The Oprah Magazine, an “Ah-ha Moment” by Jane Lynch. Sue Sylvester herself said that she, too, had that tendency to see a friend with a problem and immediately think, “What did I do?” And her Moment was realizing that her reaction always detracted from her ability to help with the real problem at hand that almost never had anything to do with her. I get it. I’m working on it. And I’m going to have to stop panicking about White Russian emergencies.

And post script: I have no idea why my brother thought I would be any kind of authority on White Russians because the only alcohol I know how to mix is beer with green food coloring. My go-to recipe for anything else is trial and error, and eventually, I get buzzed taste testing it and I don’t care anymore. But I did get to volunteer to Paul that I knew that White Russians included Kahlua, which he already knew, thankyouverymuch. I knew that because I learned it two days prior when it was an answer to a crossword puzzle in my big book of 200 crosswords. So my second point to this post is that I am 82 years old and very, very unhip.