O brothers, where art thou?

On Thursday night, my mom calls me to say that the boys are on their way and that she certainly hopes they packed enough warm clothing. Those “boys” would be my two younger brothers, visiting Williams over their Presidents’ Day break, and no, they did not pack enough warm clothing. I meet them outside baggage claim and they shiver their way to the car in their sweatshirts and thin rain jackets.

“What about your winter clothing?” I ask.

“We’re wearing it,” says 14-year-old Micah, who, coming from the California Bay Area, does have a point. On the drive back to campus, I mentally sort through my closet, brainstorming what sorts of extra down jackets, mittens and scarves I can scrounge up to get them through the weekend sans frostbite.

I was excited about the idea of hosting my brothers, and we’d been talking about this visit for the past month. We posted an event on Facebook (“Browneeeees Together Again!”), and it had three proud members. I planned on showing them around campus, introducing them to my friends, and, of course, enjoying the Winter Carnival events. For one weekend I would be more than an older sister to 22 froshies; with my brothers on campus, I get to be a big sister for real.

We finally pull into the Thompson parking lot and my brothers tell me that they like the quaint, New England brick style of my dorm. I tell them that actually my dorm is the next one over. “Oh no, don’t tell me you live in that drab, jail-like building,” says 17-year-old David, and I’m forced to admit that yes, I do live in Mission. “Well, maybe it’s nicer on the inside,” he concedes.

Once inside, the first thing my brothers notice is a poster advertising the ACE Stoplight Party. Somehow, I’d held the vague idea that they wouldn’t find out about it, but so much for that.

“Ooh look, a party!” exclaims Micah.

“And I think I have a green shirt!” pipes up David. I make it clear that there will be no Stoplight Party for us. Whenever my froshies go to parties, I figure that they’ll have either a good time or a learning experience. It’s not that I don’t think my brothers could handle it; it’s just that I don’t think this is the visit for “learning experiences.”

My brothers don’t look convinced, so I’m praising my lucky stars when they get tired during the Winter Carnival opening ceremonies. “You can go right to bed when this is over,” I tell them, hoping they’ll take the bait. They do, but it doesn’t stop me from spending the rest of my night in an “It’s such-and-such o’clock; do you know where your children are?” sort of way.

“We’re still here,” Micah informs me when I call his cell for the third time to check in

I want to make sure that my brothers experience Williams at its best, so we go all out. We spend the weekend on a grand tour of all the dining halls, thoroughly utilizing my semester’s guest meals. I bring my brothers to the campus-wide “Wah” competition, and I get to relive my WOOLF glory days while introducing them to one of the best games of all time. We sled on the golf course, attend Sunday Story Time, manifest our Brown-sibling ESP in Taboo, and attend the BSU-sponsored stencil graffiti workshop. Of course, I make sure that my brothers make a cameo appearance at Entry Snacks.

I let my brothers know that they’re going to be meeting a lot of cool people, and that they shouldn’t stress about remembering everyone’s name. “Just try to be polite,” I suggest. “Be friendly.”

What we all discover is that there is a fine line between friendly and creepy. I discover it when David crosses it, taking the initiative to confront a group of people I don’t recognize and who possibly don’t even go here. “I really, really like your dress,” he tells one random girl. “It’s beautiful.” She smiles, weakly.

The much anticipated moment of truth comes when I introduce my brothers to my co-JA, Frecka. Both parties have heard a good deal about the other, and I’m looking forward to having them interact face-to-face. I even teach my brothers a few Swedish phrases so they can make a good impression. Well, when Frecka decides on the handshake, David swoops in for the hug. The encounter is priceless. Later, David tells me that he whispered, “Brother” in Frecka’s ear. My brothers also spend some time bonding with my froshies over Super Smash Brothers, effectively negating all of my past months’ attempts toward weaning the entry off video games.

My brothers’ visit makes me think about everything more closely, now that I have real younger siblings to watch over, and not just froshies, who ultimately make their own decisions. “I’m really excited about the party next weekend,” one of my froshies tells me, and I breathe a little sigh of relief, knowing that my brothers will be home by then. Not only will I not have to enforce a lock-down, I won’t even want to. All I’ll do is tell my froshies to have fun, be safe, and remember to come to Entry Snacks.

Elissa Brown ’09 is a psychology major from Palo Alto, Calif.

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