'like Broseph Stalin, leading the way to the dictatorship of the broletariate'
there is nothing like having your own brother--this tiny little bitty piece of a person whose first homecoming you still recall with all the vivid sensory shock and horror of a hostage crisis survivor--turn thirty to remind you of what an ancient, wrinkly piece of petrified, forgotten lump of rocksolid sidewalk turd you really are. you are bloated, gaseous, rotten inside your own flesh yet beyond the point of smelly even though you do somehow bring to mind urine, senile, irrelevant, impotent, pointless and laughed at by strangers, spiritually bankrupt and did i mention old? you are old. and your younger brother just turned thirty. that is how old you are. just hurry up and die to make room for the next generation.
anyway. these are the things i was thinking about yesterday when i realized that that's really no way to honor my brother, frere nice guy, flesh of my flesh. oh such memories we share! and as mrs nice guy and i ponder a future in which we maybe have more than one child, a flood of fraternal memories come rushing back to me -- here are a few. (will our own child some day look back this fondly as her younger brother or sister turns the big 30?):
when he was born, my brother was brought back to our house. i do not recall the exact moment i first saw him because i wasn't even three years old yet. however i must have not minded it ... at first. i played with him. held him (still have pictures to prove it), cradled him in my arms. i smiled. i was gentle in my touch because he was new and fragile. after about 10 minutes i looked tenderly at him and then i glanced up at my mother and said "you can take him back now, mommy, i'm finished."
needless to say, he stayed. the wee fucker. we grew into our personalities and it was probably to everyone's benefit that we are very different people: i liked music, watching tv and getting fat. he liked sports and getting good grades. i liked harboring hatred and resentment toward my peers; he preferred being handsome and popular from the very beginning. when he was really young, he saved up some money and bought me a birthday present. he was probably about 5. i still remember what it was -- one of those plastic puzzle type things, a Rubik's Cube knockoff. the gesture was so sweet, so thoughtful. i opened the present and said "this sucks. what a stupid present!" he cried for like two days and to this day i still hate myself. sorry, bro!
as i said, we never cared about the same things, so we didn't have much to fight about. we had our own passions, cares, concerns, favorite toys, etc., sure. and this is not to say we didn't manage to find things to butt heads over. i remember once, out of boredom i guess, he decided to pee into his sock. he must have been 6 or so. i suppose we were both curious to see what would happen. i certainly knew it was wrong, but i wanted to watch him do it. so off came the sock. he held it over the toilet and peed into it. he held the sopping sock, giggling as its weight increased. i took the opportunity to march directly downstairs and tell my dad that his youngest had just pissed into his sock. man, was pop pissed! i guess broseph wasn't the only one who was bored and wanted to see what would happen: it was my first deliberate betrayal and it was sweeeeet.
in fact, now that i think about it, a lot of the funnier stuff happened when we were bored. like when he was a little older--he must have been eight or so--and we were trusted to be home alone while my mother ran a brief errand. we were hanging out in our tighty whiteys, as was our wont, chasing each other around the house, greco-roman wrestling, etc., when we both ended up out on the balcony that juts out from my parents bedroom. the door closed behind us. it locked. we were trapped! on the balcony! in our underwear! no one was home! so we did what any rational 8 and 10 year olds outside in their underwear would do: we screamed HEEEELLLP! HEEELLLLP! WE'RE STUCK AND OUR PARENTS ARE GONE!!!!! this, naturally did not go over well with the neighbors. eventually, a kind neighborhood woman within earshot (most of the state of california was within earshot) came over. we informed her that the front door was unlocked. she let herself in and stole the television. ha! no kidding. she let us in, gave us towels (i'm still not sure why she gave us towels since we were in our house with, um, all of our clothes) and sat with us until our mom came home. i bet their ensuing conversation was an interesting one. all i knew was that deep down inside we were somehow going to be laughed at for the rest of our lives because of this.
another brotherly incident involving balconies and boredom: the family went skiing one winter, in colorado or something. i must have been 14 or 15, my brother 12 or 13. he wasn't skiing because he had injured his foot (he had gotten himself run over by a car he was actually riding in -- long story, remind me to tell it to you some time). anyway, he wasn't skiing, so i was hanging out with him for the afternoon while my folks were on the slopes. our hotel room was on the second floor. we stood on the balcony and looked down at the pile of snow below. we dared each other to jump. he said he would do it if i went first. i looked down and thought to myself "shit, i have to jump now or else i'll look like a big pussy." (i remind you i was 14 or 15). so i jumped. and i landed directly in the snowpile. and i went right through it like a hot knife through warm butter. and i felt about a million stars explode in my knee, which i had already injured the year before (torn ACL). i clutched my knee, rolled around in the snow, screamed a few times, hobbled back into the hotel (where one of the ladies at the desk asked me if i was the "guy who just took a flying leap from his room") and took the elevator back up. i would later learn that i had torn the meniscus that eventually need to be removed because i would keep tearing it (this is the meniscus i just had replaced in march). but all i cared about then was that when i got back to the hotel room my brother was sitting on the couch and these were his EXACT words of consolation, now forever preserved for posterity: "better you than me." (we told my parents that i hurt my knee by falling down the stairs because that seemed MUCH less stupid than jumping out the balcony. hi mom!)
i spent my junior year of college in france. had the best year of my life. when the school year was over, my brother, who had just graduated high school, was given a plane ticket out to join me. the two of us then embarked upon a month of riding the rails through europe. there are enough stories from that trip to fill an entire book, but here are some highlights just to give you the flavor: we had a Eurail ticket that did not apparently include Croatia--a country that was then in the midst of war as we were apparently riding through it at 3 in the morning on our way to Budapest from Venice--when we were rudely awoken by the police who told us that our ticket was no good and that they wouldn't take our filthy American travelers checks and they were going to throw us out just like they did the two girls we had met earlier in the trip. they went away threatening to come back with hounds and handcuffs -- i was completely distraught, freaked out, terrified, soiling myself. my brother rolled over and went back to sleep, annoyed to have been woken up in the first place. he lay there slumbering soundly as i was having feverish visions of us recruited into the croatian national army, sent straight into the trenches, kidnapped teen-soldiers. i was amazed that my brother could sleep through the Midnight-Express levels of anxiety and terror i was enduring. and i was very, very angry at him for falling asleep so easily. the police never came back -- we learned later that a kindly hungarian conductor paid the rest of our way out of his own pocket. he saved our lives (or at least our summer) for $10. we paid him back quadruple that amount. maybe it was a scam, but he cried and said that he thanked us on behalf of his wife and children. it was surreal. later on that same trip, in Amsterdam, we ran into a friend of mine from France. he and i dragged my brother to a live sex show very much against his will. then my brother was dragged up on stage by one of the performers, stratospherically against his will, and forced to "volunteer." i still have nightmares and heart-clenching pangs of guilt over what happened next. but for his sake and yours, i will spare you the details, although i will tell you it involved a gorilla suit. (hi mom!)
anyway, this is a family website, after all! so before going any further, i will merely say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, my brother. you are truly Broseidon, lord of the brocean. a better brother i have wished for many times, but i am forever stuck with you. i am learning to accept that.
many, many happy returns of the day.