Watching my boys gives me great insight into my own role as a brother. I watch as T goes around nearly oblivious of his younger brother, whose entire world revolves around T. He follows T around like a shadow and bodyguard, mimicking everything, following every whim with excited fervor, ready to pounce with fists flying if he is needed. It is pretty cute, but at the same time makes me a little sad I was such a crappy older brother.
The younger brother is just the epitome of a good soldier. He is loyal and interested in everything his older brother might be into, while the older brother, who really loves younger dearly, goes about in an almost constant state of either annoyance or frustration. Watching my boys, I wonder if it is a human phenomenon. I can think of a few shining examples of kind, gentle, warm older brothers, but those guys are kinda freaks. I mean like walk on water types and they don't count!
My brother, Ben, who is also the epitome of a good soldier, got much of the same treatment from me, the selfish older brother, preoccupied with his own frivolous interests. Again, I love my brother like nobody's business, but when we were kids, I would use him as a safety check or a target holder. Not a real loving treatment, eh? I used to love jumping bikes and so the loyal soldier would get the awesome job of jump tester. It was a brilliant scheme on my part. If Ben sailed too high into the air and compounded into a heap of tangled gears and skinned knees, I would know to lower the jump a bit. One more test to double check safety, by Ben of course, and then the jump was ready for me.
And I always wonder why Ben is such a crazy guy? I mean, he is down for whatever. He is the most spur of the moment guy I have ever met. You want to drop everything and drive to mexico? Ben's your man! You want to pick a fight against a gang? Ben. You want to chase a bull? Ben. You want to rescue a famous editor from the clutches of a crazed writer? Oh, hells yeah, Ben is your man!
Ben is tough. He has not let the older brother treatment kept him down. He is one of the kindest and most amiable people I know. He is definitely the best brother on the planet to endure all of my bullshit and still keep smiling. I think I may be responsible for half his scars, but he still plays nice with me. Well, except in chess. In fact, Ben was the singular reason I quit playing the game for about 8 years. I could not beat him to save my freakin life! Even after a few years of pretty solid study I can only come close even now. Every once in a while I get a win, but karma rears its head, keeping me wondering whether I really won or did Ben, the good brother, threw his older pathetic bro a bone.
Here is a very "Ben" story:
North Beach, chillin with the fam. Ben restlessly starts throwing rocks, like he has done since birth. Soon it switches to the job of sending a huge driftwood log out into the straits. I see him shove it off but keep eyeing it. His shoes are a little wet.
This is not good enough for Ben. He wants that sucker to drift off into oblivion. So he get a little bit wet to accomplish his goals.
Ok. We're good, right?
I can see him brewing. While the conversation is drifting here and there, Ben is hyper-focused on that log. I see it coming now. Only a matter of time...
A little look to me and I know it's on!
To hell with the fact that the water is 48 degrees. To hell with the fact that he is fully clothed. That log is going out one way or another. Even if he has to paddle it out himself!
That's what I'm talkin about. BEN style!!
Just the Best Brother in the World.