I met Taylor about three years ago. The first day of ninth grade. I found myself completely lost. I had no idea where to go, or when to go there. The friendly face at the locker next to me was more familiar with the building, and helped me find my way. I later learned that the caring heart belonged to Taylor T. Within a month, Taylor and I were friends. My most memorable moment with Taylor from freshman year is when we had to make a video of “Romeo and Juliet: The Western.” Taylor has many great qualities that I experienced for the first time taping the project. We spent over seven hours on it, trying to make it perfect. I’ve never had so much fun working on any homework assignment. Taylor has the remarkable ability to make anything fun and still get the job done. Due to her perserverence and wit, we recieved an A and had a great time in the process.
Taylor’s great sense of humor is my favorite quality about her. I can always count on her to cheer me up or make me laugh. She can tell any story and make it funny. I love to hear her melodramatic stories about her latest episode at work, “the dramas of babysitting” or her “traumatic incident” at the mall. Of course, none of these situations are quite as dire as she makes them out to be, but she can definitely capture and entertain an audience.
Over the past six months, I have had the opportunity to get to know Taylor much better, and I would now consider her one of my best friends. I’ve seen another side to Taylor. She is one of the most responsible people I know. Her younger brother has been having a lot of trouble in school. He confides in Taylor and she has helped him through many difficult times already. She has a weekend job, cooks for her family, babysits, plays tennis, watches out for her younger brother, and takes three Advanced Placement courses on top of her other schoolwork.
Taylor is extremely caring and a great confidant. She’s the first one I call when I have a problem, not only because she cheers me up, but also because she is always able to put herself in my shoes and see where I am coming from. She is the only one of my friends that can truly relate to me all the time. She never seems judgmental because she always tries to understand why a person acted the way they did. I have a very difficult time getting mad at her because she is the first to admit her mistakes and apologize for them. She is trustworthy, loyal, and a great friend.
Ari Voukydis, you just gave the best final Jeopardy answer ever.
Owned it, Trebeck.
Over the holidays, my dad was telling family friends one of his stories. He threw in the line, “you can’t do two things in two different places at the same time when you have little kids around” and then shot me a knowing look. What follows is the story that illustrates what he meant when he said that.
It’s a Saturday afternoon and I am about 5 years old. My sister is 3 1/2 years old, my brother is 2. My mom is working the weekend, leaving my dad in charge of all three of us for the day.
Unfortunately (for my dad), this is also the only day he has designated in his schedule to hang wallpaper in my parent’s attic bedroom. It is your typical attic bedroom with high rafters, weird angles and unreachable spots. It’s a difficult assignment and it tests my dad’s patience from start to finish. (And, off the record, the wallpaper is hideous, in hindsight. It is light brown with blue and white thin stripes and it looks like linty coffee. Just horrible. I know it was the 80’s, but, oof.)
He brought us all projects—my sister and I have coloring books, my brother has his GI Joes. We all sit in the corner of the room playing quietly where dad can keep a close eye on us while he actively tries not to hang himself over this annoying project.
Things are moving along uneventfully for the first hour or so. My dad is doing his best not to swear; I’m coloring, all thoughtful and silent; my sister is talking about 80 different things at once—spazzy non sequiturs, non-linear thoughts, and with no one listening to her. I only say this because she still does this. I can only assume she came out of the womb spewing at the mouth. It takes my dad a few minutes to realize, however, that my brother has disappeared. My dad asks us if we saw our brother leave? Where did he go? No one knows. No one saw him leave. No one noticed he was gone. No one knows how long ago he left. We know nothing.
We all do our best to hide our panic. Yes, I knew how to have adult level anxiety at the age of 5; call me gifted. My dad is trying to remain calm as we begin to call for our brother. My sister is probably prattling on about chap stick and ponies and did we think that Gargamel and Papa Smurf would be a good pair to help us find our brother and also, she likes raisins.
We move through the rest of the house. The entire attic. The second floor bedrooms. The bathroom. The first floor. All our regular hiding spots in the pantries and closets in the kitchen. We move out to the outside of the house. The front porch. The back deck. Calling his name. Yelling down the street. All three of us, searching together.
My dad starts to get more and more tense. His voice raises a bit in volume as he begins to worry. I was born worried so I’m dialed in for just such an emergency. My sister is chasing a ball of rubber bands and yelling out all the verbs in the English language that rhyme with our brother’s name.
This goes on for a good 15 minutes. But, when you’re certain your brother escaped from the house, ran into the street and was immediately run down by a furniture delivery truck, 15 minutes can seem like a lifetime.
My sister must have remembered that she had an inflatable alligator on a leash who needed a walking and returned to our shared bedroom to go get him. All of a sudden we can hear her yelling that she found our brother. She straight up makes shit up sometimes, so me and my dad decide independently that we should both go check it out before we take for granted that my sister is telling the truth.
We’re all gathered in our bedroom. My sister swings open our closet door and reveals our brother. He looks a little nervous and a little giggly. It’s a weird combination. He’s staring up at all three of us as if to say, “heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! Fancy you guys showing up here.”
He was in the closet the entire time. He never answered any of our calls. Reason being that he wanted some alone time and was in no big hurry for visitors at the moment. Cuz at that moment, homeboy was shitting in his pants. I don’t mean that he was scared or anxious about the way we all swarmed in on him. I mean that he is literally shitting in his pants. Like, instead of using the toilet.
This was right at the height of potty training season for my brother. He was a difficult case. My parents were out of their minds. They had two girls who were prodigious and fast learners when it came to anything, and then they get this alien set of male chromosomes and traits to deal with and they have no idea what to do. He didn’t talk as soon as the two of us, didn’t walk, wouldn’t follow directions as well, was less prone to just throw himself into new things. The differences in raising a boy vs. a girl really hit hard.
He would not take to potty training and it was frustrating. And on this day, he saw an opportunity to keep doing things his way and he flippin took it, dammit!
My exasperated dad grabbed my brother. My sister and I pounce on him immediately: “HE’S POOPING IN HIS PANTS! HE SHOULD BE PUNISHED! HE WON’T USE THE TOILET, WHAT A WHIMP! HE’S SUCH A BABY! UGH, NOW OUR CLOSET SMELLS! MY FAVORITE DRESSES ARE IN THERE! HE’S SO DUMB!”
(Having such supportive sisters probably had a lot to do with his attitude. Hindsight being 20/20 and all.)
My dad cleans up my brother and brings us all back up to the third floor so he can finish his project. He is still rattled by what happened, the adrenaline surge of thinking maybe the baby got kidnapped or worse….His nerves are shot, but he pushes on with the wallpaper.
And that’s when it happens. The know-it-all smarty pants opens her mouth. I’m back quietly coloring in my book and lost in my thoughts. Without looking up from my crayons, I address my dad with all the hard won wisdom that I’ve accumulated in my 5 trying years on this glorious rock.
"You know, dad—if you had been watching us, like you were supposed to, things like this wouldn’t happen."
My dad used all his remaining power to restrain himself from launching me out a window.
Incidents and remarks like this will continue all throughout my life. If you mess up, I’m right there, taking notes and shooting you glances to let you know how dumb you are. This will prompt my dad, whenever he introduces me to anyone, to say this:
"This is my oldest daughter, Taylor. She keeps everything in order and everyone in their place. Let me just put it that way."
I listen for this every time I hear it and I always forget to post about it.
In Adele’s “Someone Like You” my favorite part of the song comes at the end of the bridge. (The last 1:20 of the song.) The piano drops out a little bit and then her voice kinda cracks under the weight of the notes she’s hitting and the emotion she’s pouring into them.
But, then, the piano comes back in strong and suddenly her vocals are resolute and determined. Like she’s balled up her fists and really come to win.
I always picture the piano as that one friend we all have who drags you off your ass and says “shake it off, you’re way better than this shit.” And their belief in you makes you believe, too; and you stand up and you’re like, “YOU’RE RIGHT! I’m wayyyyy better than this! Let’s go!”
And at the end of that song, as the piano’s final notes play, the friend is shutting off the light and closing the door when putting her to bed after the two of them have had a productive day together.
I really love the relationship between the piano and the vocals in this song.(These are the pictures I’m painting when I’m listening to music and is why I don’t like people talking over songs.)
When you’re raised in a house with 5 insane people and only one bathroom, you get used to showering with the door unlocked so people can walk in and out of the bathroom freely.
Once while my sister was in the shower, I was in my room with my music playing. The bathroom door was wide open as she showered and she was having a conversation with me. She assumed I was in the bathroom with her AND she couldn’t hear my music playing over the water running. So, basically, she was barking out orders and I couldn’t hear a thing. I kept saying, “WHAT?” And she’d repeat herself. I still couldn’t hear her so I turned my music off. “WHAT?” I ask again. She’s getting pissed. I decide to just walk right into the bathroom and see what the hell it is that she wants. “What do you want?” She is fully frustrated at this point, so she screams out, “I NEED YOU TO GET ME A TOWEL. YA DEAF BITCH!”
I do as I’m told, and go about my business.
Now. Up to this point, we’re assuming we’re the only two people in the house. We had just come home from school/work/whathaveyou and no one was around when we walked in.
Out of nowhere, we hear our dad run up the basement stairs and say, “hey girls, do you know where your mom keeps such-and-such.”
We both start freaking out. We can’t remember what was said or screamed or cursed out between the two of us since we got home and we’re frantically replaying our entire conversation in our heads as we answer him.
(My father never swears in front of us and he HATES it when we swear and basically fall short in any way of being total ladies, and, for my brother, a total gentleman. My dad wants us to act respectful at all times and he hates shenanigans. If my mom is Quality Control, my dad is the Board of Ethics.)
Finally, my sister bites the bullet.
"Dad….how long have you been home?"
He non-chalantly answers her:
"Just a little while."
He’s so cool, we figure we’re in the clear.
Until he elaborates:
"YA DEAF BITCH!!!!!!!!"
"Yeah. I heard you. Nice language."
We both died a little that day.
Hi everybody! Donny already mentioned us Terrances in his speech. And Shaun asked me to say a few words on behalf of the family so I’m gonna introduce them really quickly. Back there at table 13 are my parents, Larry and Maggie, they presented the gifts at church. Also at table 13 is my sister Blair, who did the first reading. And this stunning groomsmen right up here is my brother, Three. He’s tall, dark and clumsy. I’m Taylor. And we are The Terrances.
So, every good sitcom family has their “plus one” and Shaun has always been ours. “Leave it to Beaver” had Eddie Haskell and “Family Matters” had Steve Urkel; The Terrances got Shaun Jeffers.
Shaun had his own place at our dinner table, his own seat in the family van and his own special spot…on my last nerve. I spent most of my childhood ignoring Shaun; I was hoping he would get the hint and go away. I think my presence here tonight proves that that plan was a smashing success.
But, I decided he could stay in the family, when, after 18 short years, he finally wore me down.
During “The College Years” of our little sitcom, Shaun and I went to a house party together. Being the chivalrous guy that he is, he drove me back to my dorm and walked me to my room. All my friends were impressed by what a good friend he is to me, which I THOUGHT was true. But, the following Sunday, he proceeded to tell everyone at family dinner all about my antics at that party. I threw a basket of dinner rolls at him and told him to kindly choke on them, and he JUST KEPT RIGHT ON TALKING. So, I can tell you firsthand that Shaun is nothing if not driven and persistent.
A few years after college, Shaun and I decided to do a Spin Off version of The Terrances and live in an apartment together here in Rochester. No one believes me when I say this, but I can officially confirm that he did all the cooking, all of the cleaning and took care of all the bills. There were so many times when Shaun had every detail covered. I would often look at him with pride and say, “Shaun, you’re gonna make a great wife someday.”
In our apartment, Shaun would hook his ipod up and sing loudly in the shower. He loves singing so much that I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a karaoke contest tonight. If that’s the case, I hope our DJ, Nate, is listening. My first request is for anything by Pearl Jam. That’s where Shaun’s true talent lies. And my second request is for a burial at sea when the stress of listening to him finally kills me.
In the final years at our apartment, Shaun would always run home from volleyball and tell me all about this girl Gina. He was crushing on her big time, and I got every progress report. One week, they collided on the volleyball court and Shaun almost broke her leg. That was a HUGE WEEK in our apartment. But that’s Shaun for you. Any progress is good progress. Forever an optimist.
While Shaun was the last member to join the cast of The Terrance Family Sitcom, he’s also the first “child” to leave the fold b/c of marriage. The rest of us kids are putting up a mean fight. If you don’t believe me, just look at how dressed up my parents are. My dad’s wearing a bow tie. My mom’s dressed in gold. They’re pretty sure this is their only chance at a wedding for one of their children. So, thanks for that, Shaun!
With that said, Shaun has always been a great brother—to me especially. He watches out for me, he encourages the things I’m interested in and he always gives great advice. And, because of his presence in my life, I have not one but TWO brothers…whom I never wanted.
So, tonight, I wish him and Gina good luck. I’ve been hanging out with them a lot in preparation for tonight and I can say that they tackle the big stuff well and they also have a lot of fun together.
And, to Gina—congrats on your amazing new wife. You hit the jackpot, girl.