Today is my brother John’s birthday.
John is 16 months younger than I. I have been an attention whore my whole life, since I was a child and definitely since I was 16 months old. My parents thought I would like having a baby brother. They obviously were not paying attention when I kept throwing the puppy they got me out of his box and getting in the box myself so that people would fawn over me.
When Baby John was left on the floor in his little mid-60s plastic infant seat, I would pick up toys and drop them on his head. I didn’t need a baby stealing my thunder. My parents wised up and put John and his little seat on the counter but not far back enough on the counter. On the counter within reach of a toddler who could just grab the edge of the seat and flip the baby on to the floor. Rumor has it that’s what’s wrong with John to this day, brain damage from toddler sister assault.
When we were little, John was always the one that would get busted and I would stand back wide-eyed shaking my head at his poor behavior. When all the neighborhood kids from Maple Drive gathered in our back yard on the swing set and one by one went up and pulled our pants down to show our butts? Who was the one kid doing it when my dad came home and lo0ked out the window? John. Who told my dad no one else was doing it? Me.
When John was 2 and wet his pants in the yard, who took him inside and got him new fresh clothes? Me. Who didn’t have any underwear on later that day in the ER after he had fallen on a rock and split his forehead open? John.
You know how to play helicopter? When you lie on your back with your feet in the air and the other person lays on your feet and you hold their hands and then launch them in the air? When John was 10 and I was 11, we were in the basement playing that helicopter game, I launched John off my feet and he hit a wall and I guess he was knocked out for a minute. And of course, my mother comes in and John is lying on the floor of what we called The Big Room. “What happened?!” And I looked at her and shook my head and said, “I don’t know.” It wasn’t long before he could tell how many fingers she was holding up. Psshh, he was fiiine!
In 1971, John and I were the proud recipients of twin sisters. John wasn’t happy about this seeing as how “if God was going to send two, he could have sent one boy.” Initially we each had a twin and would mock the other’s twin — “your baby has big ears!” “your baby is bald!” Eventually John and I joined forces against the girls and told them how much stuff we would have if they had never been born. John taught our sisters (or at least Katie) the Egyptian ear rip and the Norwegian knee neutralizer.
Some might call John irrational. They have stopped questioning his sanity because what is the point? He has a personal shopper at Nordstrom that may not be aware of his actual age. John thinks it’s a character flaw that I don’t have a DVR. John likes to eat alone…freak. He loves to debate. He has an absurdly short fuse which can be set off by a stuck jacket zipper or cranberries in the Thanksgiving stuffing.
John is a great brother. He worries too much about his sisters but there is never any doubt how devoted he is to us, our whole family and his myriad “good buddies”.
Happy Birthday Brother John!