A Day of Significance  

Today is a special day for many, many reasons. Probably first and foremost is that on this day, Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to ever orbit the Earth, was launched. October 4th also happens to be the day that the first US Open was ever played (1895), and the inaugural trip of the Orient Express took place. Yet nestled quietly behind all of these resounding moments in history, including Riccardo Zanella becoming the first elected president of the Free State of Fiume, there is another reason why October 4th is significant not only for myself, but also a handful of guys in the online TV/TG chat rooms -- it's my brother's birthday.

Yay for Matt on his 37th birthday!

Once, long ago, in a place much like this one, I shared a handful of stories that stood out in my mind as representative of my relationship with Matt. Since that place is long dead and several of you never had the pleasure of reading that post, I'm going to re-hash it here today.

1. When I was 6, I became so frightened and hysterical at the doctor's office over receiving a shot, they sent in a heavy set black woman who literally sat on top of me so I would stay still. To ease my embarrassment, immediately afterwards my older brother called me a baby and punched me on the arm in the exact place where I had just received the shot.

2. One time I was minding my own business, eating some yogurt, watching TV. My brother wanted me to change the channel, I told him to die, so he smacked my hand as I was putting a spoonful of strawberry-banana goodness into my mouth. The spoon raked across the bottom of my front teeth, chipping it slightly. Between the sound the spoon made shaving my incisors, and the look on my face, he must have known I would retaliate, so he leaped off of the couch and ran for the sanctuary of our room (that he could lock me out of). With the refined reflexes of a 10 year old ninja, I fired the spoon at him before he rounded the corner into the hallway. The handle of the spoon, which was tapered into a blunt spike, sank deep into the fleshy part below his elbow. We pretty much called a truce for the day at this point.

3. Throughout high school I worked at least 30 hours a week as an all around helper for a small furniture company, doing whatever was needed of me. Over time the company grew larger and I started to refer my friends, most of whom would just stay there for the summer to earn some extra cash. One particular summer, against my better judgment, my brother joined the team.

There I was, working in a wood shop with my brother. A brand new world of devices he could hurt me with had been opened up to him. His favorite? The nail gun. These weren't like those heavy duty roofing guns that could kill you. They were smaller pneumatic guns that shot 1-1/4 inch finishing nails with remarkable accuracy. There was little chance of being killed by one of them, but still, it really, really fucking hurt. I have the tiny scars to prove it.

4. Have you ever given someone candy bars? And no, I'm not talking about the milk chocolate kind that you would actually appreciate if given to you. This type of candy bar involves straddling someone's (read: mine) upper torso as to effectively pin down their arms. Once this is accomplished, you repeatedly tap as hard as you can on the persons exposed sternum with your knuckles, and assign your victim a sentence; let's say 20 candy bars in this example. That means until your victim cries out 20 distinct varieties of candy bars, the knuckling continues. The longer it takes, the harder and faster you punish them.

My brother was the master of candy bars. Once I was old enough to resist it got even worse, as he would enlist his older and bigger friends, and it became impossible for me to break free. Since now he also had friends to impress, I would often have to name 50 candy bars before being let go.

I gained quite a few things from this peculiar adolescent torture. I have a nice weathered spot between my man boobs, I can name 50 candy bars in less than 30 seconds alphabetically, and to this day I piss myself whenever someone offers me a Baby Ruth.

5. It was just another random day of my youth. I was standing in the kitchen, making a sandwich, when my brother walks in. He took a 3-liter of soda from the fridge an proceeded to drink the last of it. Since it was almost empty, he had to tilt the 3-liter all of the way up to get the remaining soda. In doing so, he unknowingly raised the bottle high enough that it got clipped by one of the blades on the ceiling fan.

I watched the entire thing go down, and couldn't help but laugh at him. My brother, still recoiling from the shocking blow to his mouth, took my laughter as a confession of guilt. In a matter of seconds he discerned it was possible for me (only 5' nothing at the time) to jump up and smack the bottle into his mouth, all while avoiding his peripheral vision. Acting out of vengeance, he punched me as hard as he could, right below the collar bone. I was caught off guard, not to mention considerably smaller, and flew across the kitchen into the counter. My head struck so hard that I was out cold for a few minutes. Drawing on the knowledge garnered from thousands of TV watching hours, my brother proceeded to splash me with cold water and slap my face until I awoke. By the time I fully regained consciousness, he and my sandwich were nowhere to be found.

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Don't let my fraternal tales lead you to believe that my brother is an asshole. I used to think that a lot growing up, but it's not true. I have heard far worse stories between brothers, so I know I got off easy for the most part. In the end, he has always been there for me when I needed him.

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3 Reasons to Live

  • Chris  
    October 6, 2008 at 9:03 AM

    I used to call that candy bar game, Rookie of the year. Since I was older and bigger, I'd sit on my brother's chest and make him recite the last 10 rookies of the year in baseball. Of course, once he got to 10, the magic number became 11, etc.

    He still hates me.

  • Ryan  
    October 6, 2008 at 12:24 PM

    This kind of bonding via physical abuse makes me sad that, apart from a bottle throwing incident, my brother and I have only engaged in emotional warfare.

  • Christie  
    October 8, 2008 at 12:57 PM

    I can't believe Matt would do that to you. I think it was the other way around.

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