1. The meaning of penis.
Only a select few people in your life have the power and wherewithal to teach you what a penis is. And if you have an older sister the job usually falls to her. We were in my mom’s bathroom alone; I don’t remember what was specifically said, but just that my sister concluded with “and that’s what a penis is,” and that I subsequently stood frozen, in shock, for the next couple hours.
2. How to put in a tampon.
Another thing older sisters are great for is teaching you about anything period-related. Like that it’s really not necessary to cry the first time you get it and that putting in a tampon just feels like fingering yourself.
3. How to dance.
I remember wondering as a kid why my sister insisted on closing her bedroom door. Then one day I walked in on her dancing and learned why. As an impressionable, younger sister, the sight of my sister dropping it low in front of a mirror wasn’t funny at all. It was more like a reality check that it was time I learn how to dance. I also sort of took it as a challenge, and so spent the remainder of my years at home trying to emulate my sister’s moves.
Now when I dance she says I look like Gumby. Thing is, buddy, YOU taught me everything I know about dancing.
“Errmmm, what are you listening to?” I remember asking my sister as I watched her apply blush and mascara, while listening to her headphones, before the bar mitzvah party she was to attend. “Nothing! You’re too young to know who they are!” she retorted.
I could have left it at that, but I could hear the thumping base from her headphones and the faint sound of “What’s a matter wich yo’ life…” and just couldn’t let it go. A week later I had bought Salt-n-Pepa’s Very Necessary and had learned all the lyrics to “Shoop,” “Whatta Man,” and “None of Your Business.”
5. That dressing up slutty for Halloween is not always cool.
Part of the requirements of an older sister is to monitor your social media, especially when you start signing up for Facebook at a young age. As a reckless 11th grader, I posted photos of me and my friends dressed up as what could be called nothing but whores. Thankfully, my sister taught me that this wasn’t cool, nor was it good for my college applications.
6. The real meaning of a crush.
As a young, fledgling weirdo I used to harass my sister and tell her I had a crush on her. I was around 4 or 5 and I genuinely thought that the admiration I felt for her was akin to having a crush. Like a good older sister, she eventually convinced me that this was unnatural, strange, and not the case.
7. How to be a bitch.
Countless years of being ignored and asked to be left alone left me with a hard outer shell and an ability to channel bitchiness if a moment should call for it. I also learned from my sister that bitchiness is almost always an effective tool to appear cooler or hotter; the bitchier my sister was to my guy friends, the more infatuated with her they’d be.
8. How to sneak guys into the house.
On more than one occasion, I had gotten up in the middle of the night to go pee and bumped into a dude my sister had snuck over. “Shhh don’t tell…” she would say, running into her room and giggling. And I’d run straight into my room too, to jot down notes: the time? 3am. Where was he snuck in through? The upstairs door—duly noting all of the particulars of her ruse.
9. That you’re a klepto.
Without an older sister, you never have the opportunity to ogle clothes that aren’t yours and, as a result, you couldn’t find out until later in life that you’re a klepto. Luckily I had this opportunity at a young age and so was able to nip my klepto habit in the bud before high school.
10. To only speak up when necessary.
It’s essential that all older sisters make it nearly impossible for their younger sisters to get their attention. Only by the fourth “excuse me” should an older sister finally turn around to answer her younger sister, yet by then the older sister should also be visibly irritated by the pestering. Such unrelenting treatment for years on end will teach a younger sister to only speak up when necessary.