Back when Wife and I had just met, and before we lived a walking distance from each other but in our own apartments, and before we had started to regularly spend the nights together in either one of them, it sometimes happened that Wife would leave my place in the evening and sleep at her sister’s place two subway stops down the red line.
One such time, when Wife and I saw each other the next morning at the office, and as we recapped our evenings, she, for a reason I can’t remember anymore, said casually that “she only has hard bread”. Meaning the Swedish knäckebröd, or crispbread, a flat and crisp rye bread.
“Oh,” I said, while making a mental note to always have fresh bread at home when Wife would visit.
“But I like crispbread,” she added, and I made a note of that, too.
I was definitely going to stock up on the knäckebröd as well. (But I was also going to make sure that as long as Wife was hanging out with me, she’d always – always – have soft bread to eat).
I had heard a lot about Wife’s sister before I met her for the first time. Looking back at it now, I think Wife may have hyped her up just a tad because when she called me to tell me she was in the office, I was nervous, very nervous.
It was strange, though, because for weeks I had been amazed by Wife, and the depths of her wisdom, and now she was telling me there was another one like that, one that she looked up to? It was like Clark Kent introducing to me his brother, Kevin Kent who also had X-ray vision and could fly AND was a better reporter than him.
I was so nervous to meet my future Sister-in-Law that I pulled off a weird run-by on her. I came skipping down a flight of stairs, and when I saw Wife and her sister standing in the reception area together, talking and laughing, I kept on skipping past them, but not without blurting, “Hi, I’m the guy who found the pen” to Sister.
At least thats the image I have in my head, and thinking back at it still makes me blush. I keep telling myself that the image may not be, and probably isn’t 100 percent accurate because in that picture, Sister’s standing in the lobby wearing a bicycle helmet. The reason I think the image is a fake memory is that I also remember the two curly-haired sisters and their big smiles.
Wife, of course, was right. Her sister certainly could, and can, do anything she puts her mind to. She’s a fantastic writer, and a doctor, and a mother. She can cook and bake with the best of them, and if there ever is going to be a Swedish remake of Flashdance, she’ll be in the running for the starring role. She could probably even do the welding scenes herself.
It’s funny because it’s true. Of course, when Wife tells me the stories, there’s also a dash of her still looking up to her big sister in the stories.
“Hey, didn’t Jenny play soccer?” I asked Wife years ago, having learned that she had been a promisign soccer goalie herself.
“Oh, she did,” Wife said, “but she’d always just kick the ball somewhere and then run.”
“But she was the fastest one on the field,” she added.
Now, don’t think she’s perfect, she’s not Wonder Woman. (She’s Wonder Woman’s sister). Of course she’s had her challenges and problems, and of course she has her quirks. She’ll do a thousand situps a day if the idea hits her, and she’ll over organize and be overly ambitious in her planning because she’s an optimist and figures things will work out in the end.
And yet, I was surprised to hear Jenny had got engaged. And then again when Wife told me she was getting married. I had thought she didn’t want to get married, as a matter of principle but suddenly, amazingly, it was cool to say “I do.”
Then again, that could be her motto.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 18 years in their universe, it’s that Jenny knows best. Wife and I will have discussions about something, and we’ll go back and forth on what to do, and if it’s got anything to do with food, medicine, training, well-being, writing, well, anything but hockey and soccer, we’ll always come back to one question: “What does Jenny think?”
And then Wife will ask her, they’ll do their sister thing, and then Wife will report back to me a version of their discussions.
“Is that what Jenny says?” I’ll ask Wife.
“Yes, that what she told me.”
“OK. That sounds good. Let’s do that.”
Every now and then, Wife reminds me not to buy any bread from the store.
“We have Jenny’s bread in the freezer,” she says.
You may be surprised to hear that Jenny’s bread is not knäckebröd. Instead, it’s a soft multi-grain bread.
That bread is the best in the world. It is. Ask Wife. Ask me. Ask anyone.