Somewhere in the uncharted backwaters of a city in Delaware, a woman sits, most likely playing Tetris on the internet. The woman, herself, is of very little importance to this story. Inside that woman is a little pink sack, a pocket if you will, and on the wall of that sack, carved in sharpened bits of umbilical cord, reads the following words:
Mr Lady. Out. 3.20.75.
Directly above that, if you were to look, you'd also see this:
E.C. was here. Born to raise hell 7.8.73
No, Eric Clapton is not my brother. This clown is. We'll call him Gnilleps, okay?
First-born child to the nightmarish debacle that was the reproductive team of Mr Lady's parents, my brother is 20 months my senior, stands about a foot taller than I do, has red hair, play video games, has attended more college than he ever did public school, and is a big fat copy-cat.
I have 3 kids. Guess who also has 3 kids? My husband is 35. Guess who just had to go and turn 35 today? Whatever, hosehead.
Sometimes when my kids achieve ludicrous speed, The Donor will ask me, "Where do they get that from? YOU? Gnilleps?" And I honestly don't know. I don't remember much about him growing up. We kind of lived in, well, a warzone? It was every man for himself. Sibling bonds were not forged. I do remember than when we weren't pitted against each other in a battle to the death, I totally looked up to him. Even when he:
- Duct taped us to the bed while we slept, and duct taped out mouths shut so no one would hear us scream
- Rolled us up in blankets and then shoved us down the wooden staircase
- Hid Playboys in the attic, and laced the entrance to the attic with Sudafed, knowing we'd find them and think they were Red Hot Candies and eat them all
- Tried to build a bomb practice chemistry in the kitchen
- Dropped our brother on his head so hard he had seizures for a few years after (honestly, I did the same thing to our sister. Eveies.)
- Attempted to talk me into jumping out of the 2nd story bedroom window
- Shattered my 4 year old right arm in the process
- Convinced me to take the wrap for drinking all the cherry juice, which doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but I know and he knows....
You know, normal older brother stuff. Here's the deal; my older brother is the smartest human, by far, I have ever met and he was, as a child, a lot like The Brain. Guess who was his Pinky? He was seriously less than challenged growing up and he just made the best of it.
My favorite memory of my brother, one of my only memories of him actually, is one night when he was in his room, and I mine, and we realized that the phone jack in the wall in between our rooms had never been wired, and that once we took the jack cover off we could totally talk to each other all super-secret-like through that hole in the wall. We sat up all night gabbing through it. I couldn't fathom a guess as to what we talked about, but I remember that we did it. I had never felt so special in my whole life.
That's the thing with my brother. He's a clown. He's outrageous. He dyes his hair pink occasionally. But, when he wants to, he can make you feel like One Million Bucks. He's genuine, he's unique, he is unabashedly unafraid, and he is true to who he his.
We never had that relationship where we say I love you and I miss you and stuff. We never really had any relationship, truth be told, but that wasn't our fault and now that I am all grown up and I can choose for myself? Yeah, I choose him to be my big brother. I love that guy, man. He's an amazing uncle, a bang up husband, a fabulous dad. He's smart and funny and I am so proud of him, watching him grow from a fucked up little kid into a man you'd want to will your children to. He rose above, yo. Better than I could have ever hoped to, for sure.
So, Gnilleps, happy 35th birthday, you old fuck. Your bottle of Geritol and your Bing Crosby albums are in the post. Because I love you.
Today is also the birthday of someone else quite important to me, and I'm just not going into that, but I am going to tell you a joke the kids' godfather once told me, and my willingness to repeating it , especially today, is quite possibly the reason I'm going to hell.
Jethro was walking home from workin' all day in the coal-mines, and stopped into the local pub, just like he did every night on his way home. Dingy, dusty, he saddled up to the bar and ordered his drink, the same drink he ordered every day. And then he smiled a wide, dirty, toothless grin the likes of which the bartender had never seen on his face before. "My oh lordy, Jethro," Clarabell said, "you sure do have a big ol' grin on your face today! What's got you so happy?"
Jethro sighed. "Clarabell, I doesn't even know wheres to start. Last night, oh lordy, last night!" He took a deep breath and continued. "Last night I was walkin' home from here, just like I does every night, and I crossed over the train tracks, just like I does every night, 'cause you know, I live just over there, on the other side of the tracks. But when I stepped over those tracks, I looked down and lord almighty, what did I see? I saw a girl. TIED to the tracks! You know, like in those movin' pictures!"
Clarabell's eyes grew wide. "What did you do, Jethro?"
"Well, what could I do? I untied her, of course! I brought her back to my shack with me, and I poured us both a drink. I was so nervous! I tried to talk to her, but, well, I just couldn't helps myself, and...well...errr...long story short? We ended up DOING IT all night long! We did it on the couch, and on the kitchen counter, all over my shack! It was the most amazing night of my life!"
Clarabell smiled for her old friend. "Jethro," she said, "that's great! I is so happy for you! What is her name? Is she pretty?"
"I don't know," confessed Jethro, "I never did find her head."