Happy birthday to my big brother.
Yeah, we've had our differences, our physical fights, our disagreements, and yeah, he threw out my prom dress but he's still my big brother, and dammit, I love him.
He might not always seem to be the brightest crayola in the box, but he makes up for it in street smarts and charisma and on top of it, he's still a damn decent guy. And I think any of you would be hard pressed to meet anyone as giving. (The one trait I can safely say he inherited from our mom in spades.)
Truth be told, as far as we have drifted apart in our day, and as much as I have questioned his logic on a lot of things over the years, nothing could ever replace the days spent rolling down a hill in a refrigerator box together, or sledding on the hill by grandma's house. There have been a great many injuries, including, but not limited to being shot in the eye with a plastic suction cup dart, assorted bruises from throwing dirt clods at each other, a black eye from a marshmallow, cuts, scrapes, skinned knees, and well... the little scar on my forehead is a constant reminder of that game of tag in dad's home office gone terribly awry. There were nights spent playing "dark tag" with Kim and Cole in the basement, which usually ended with me squealing in pain after being blindsided by the zipper-end of a pillow to the face, but there were also immense amounts of laughter. And it's not just anyone who would (rather randomly) think to crawl into a sleeping bag, and then proceed to go sit in a shower stall and repeatedly announce, "Pee pee, poo poo, caca, I'm a little potty mouth!" or to hide behind a hill on the golf course fairway only to pop out a few minutes later, flailing his gangly arms wildly and begin screaming, "RUUUUUUN!!! THE COWS ARE COMING!! THE COWS ARE COMING!"
The highschool years were certainly made more interesting by having to live up to the high humor standards he set, while trying to live down the rumors and reputation for the family name handed down in the process. Trying to live with the fact that most of my friends had crushes on him because of his resemblance to a blonde Kevin Bacon was a task I took no joy in. But in the rare circumstance that we had a class together, (which did surprisingly happen on more than one occasion,) I never ceased to be amazed at just how much he got away with behaviorally, just because he was so easily able to make a teacher laugh instead of issuing some kind of reprimand. Working together as lifeguards during those years always added a new dimension to things as well... And I still have to wonder what the hell he was thinking when he pushed a grocery cart into the deep end of the pool, or how in god's name he ever got it out of there. And despite the fact that he incited a fair bit of laughter at my expense, or that he occasionally went out of his way to make my job a little more difficult, I wouldn't trade those days either.
We have certainly pursued our separate lives, but on the rare occasion that we get together, I am constantly amused and enchanted by the stories he tells, the memories he recalls, and the way he can instantly put people at ease.
He taught me to play darts, he is always the first to offer to go and buy another round of beer, he has given me at least one chapter's worth of material (more likely two or three) for the memoir I would one day hope to pen, and he has taught me that there aren't too many situations that a well-timed laugh can't get you out of... or at least ease the blow of really unpleasant repercussions.
So here's to my big brother on his birthday, raise your glasses one and all... To the only guy who could ever get away with so many things, the one who taught me that it's better to laugh at yourself than to lose your sense of humor about anything, and the guy who has always been among my few cheerleaders, hoping for my every success and rooting for me even when I have trouble rooting for myself. Cheers!