Friday, October 14, 2011

My Brother, A Hell of a Guy

It's my brother's birthday today.  He is a hell of a guy.  A guy I respect and love.

My little brother, Jeff.
Oh my god, he was such a fat baby!
When he was a baby I used to crawl into his crib and wake him up to play with me.  A little over two years apart, we were always close.  For a while, in our awkward upper elementary years, people used to think we were twins.

Jeff was a good sport when he was little.  I used to dress him up like he was my doll.  He was my student when I played school, he was the dumb dog character when I sang the "Annie" soundtrack (of course I was Annie, hello!) and he was my back up singer when my mom forced me to entertain at dinner parties.  He was a gamer.

I wrote, directed and produced a Christmas pageant every year and forced Jeff to be in it.  You can see by the costumes, we had no budget.  I mean this last picture I look like a crack whore from a bad 80s movie.

Even though I enjoyed being the bossy big sister I also simply enjoyed putting him in his place.  Not only was Jeff a gamer, he was pretty everything.  He could ride a bike without training wheels before me.  There I was riding my hand-me-down from my big sister bike with big old training wheels as Jeff sped past me on his brand new Spiderman two-wheeler.

He could also read and spell before me. Again there was a memorable moment for me on the back porch struggling through my first grade spelling list.  "C-A-T-T spells cat," I said proudly, looking for my thumbs up from my parents.  Then Jeff runs out and excitedly exclaims, "I can spell archaeologist! A-R-C-H-A-E-O-L-O-G-I-S-T."  He was four.  An f-ing four year old spelling archaeologist, what the hell?

This kid could do anything and we were all believers.  He simply picked up the tennis racket and I swear I heard my father say, "He could be the next McEnroe."

Even though I was (and honestly maybe still am) a little bitter, I couldn't help but love this guy.  
My brother and I also shared the fact of life that we were an orthodonist's dream come true.

Now that we are grown ups I look back on these early years with my little brother with such reverence.  My heart aches with love for who we were.  And now like any dark and twisty family, we stick together because of all the junk we've been through together and apart.  I mean there are only two people that really understand what it was/is like to have a mother like brother and my sister.  If there were badges given that said "we survived our mother" we would wear them proudly and confidently, well confidently most days.

Jeff and I are pretty similar in coping strategies, we don't have very good ones.  We both teeter on the edge of depression pretty precariously.  But we certainly love big, dream big and have loads of compassion.
We also share a similar style of making people feel better.  We go for the laugh usually by making fun of ourselves.  We affectionately refer to it as "throwing ourselves under the bus" to make people laugh.  There are times when I feel like we play off each other at a sort of "who's the biggest loser" game.  And we aren't talking weight loss.

My brother usually always wins any game of wit we play--he can speak intelligently about almost any subject and has a keen perception and insight about people. 

He is a survivor. 

He is the best story reader to my kids.  He is the guy you call when you don't want to be judged.  He is the guy that listens, tells you the truth if you are prepared to hear it, lifts you up when you need it and loves you no matter what.

He is a hell of a guy.  A guy I respect and love.
Happy birthday brother.

In honor of Jeff here is a clip of Russell Brand.  Jeff likes him and I have to say after watching a ton of interviews in preparation for this post....I love him too. Fascinating, brilliant, funny dude, hey, a lot like my brother!    

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