the disadvantage as the youngest only boy in a family of four siblings is that ultimately, a lot of his clothes were just a little bit on the girly side. my mom has said more than once that one of his favorite sweaters when he was four or so had little pink pom-poms all over it.
in the upper level of our house in austin, right at the end of the hallway and before the back bedroom there was a never-ending closet. never ending because it seemed like we stuffed everything in there, and we found stuff in there that was thought to be lost to the wolves after years of looking. really, it was a black hole for play clothes more than anything else.
when we played upstairs, whatever the theme was, more often than not charlie ended up being a damsel in distress. we had plenty of old dresses and girls’ clothing, so we worked with what we had. we never heard a complaint from him about this, and i don’t ever remember anyone questioning us or him on his choice of clothing. what a guy – very sure in his masculinity even then.
but here’s how else three sisters and a taskmaster mother help out a youngest boy: this dude knows how to clean a bathroom, do laundry, pick up stuff off the floor, do dishes without being asked, and can cook relatively decently. now, he still couldn’t find something if it were hiding underneath something else, but i think that must be a trait all men share. (seriously – what’s up with that??)
a story i’ve heard second-hand is how much blame he ended up taking after i left home. charlie’s got a smirk you wouldn’t believe. in fact, you can’t believe him when he’s got that smirk on his face. worst. liar. ever. well, my sisters took advantage of this to the fullest extent. see, he ended up smirking like this even when being accused of something he didn’t do! so jane and liz more than once told my mom that something they were responsible for was actually charlie’s fault. when my mom questioned charlie, of course he couldn’t keep a straight face, so he got stuck with punishment for something that he didn’t do. (karma for all those times he got away with stuff? perhaps…)
what else happens to a youngest boy with three older sisters? well, those sisters end up being fiercely protective of this kid. even though he was a pain some of the time and a trainwreck other times and a handy scapegoat for a few years and wildly coasting through life without a plan for a lot of the time, he’s still our baby brother.