Thursday, March 15, 2007

Post #420 - It's All About My Brother!

I've kind of been phoning it in the last few days. I've been trying to work on this big post inspired by some things I've been reading lately, but I'm having trouble. So I thought I'd divert your attention by telling you about my little brother Dan.

Dan is about 2.5 years younger than I am, and as a wee child I hated him. Hated him with such force that I refused to smile in any picture that included both of us for almost three years. You should see them. They crack my shit up. Finally, I got over myself and moved on.

Throughout the school years, Dan probably ended up hating me on more than one occasion. I was the 'older and smarter, and don't you forget it' type of big sister. Dan was more laid back. If it wasn't fun, then why bother? Playing outfield in little league? Not fun! Reading social studies? Boring! Bike riding and secret cabin building with the neighbor boys? Ding! Eventually this lifestyle caught up with him in the form of a report card. Sometime by third grade, my baby brother was failing nearly every class for at least some period of time during the year.

Let me assure, my brother is not stupid. He is simply selectively motivated. In ninth grade, my parents told him that if he made the honor roll, he could have whatever amazing thing it was he wanted at that time. For one report period, he got all As and Bs, got his prize, and went back to a C- (in choir) being his best mark.

The consequence to all these near-failing grades was that my brother spent most of his nights at the dining room table with a book in front of him. He never really read, he just periodically turned pages. By the end of elementary school, he discovered that if my folks didn't know about his poor grades until report card time, then the punishments were limited to two weeks spurts following each quarter. They may have been more severe, but the limited duration made them more attractive.

Thus began the most ridiculous cycle of lying that ever existed.

As he was handing my mother the envelope containing his report card, she would ask, 'Danny, did you get any Ds or Fs?' His reply was always a resounding, 'No!' Every fucking time. Four quarters a year for seven years. She'd open the envelope and find Ds and Fs in abundance, with a smattering of Cs and the occasional B (choir, again) thrown in there. That's when my parents started in with the creative punishment. At first, it was typical stuff. Grounded for two weeks, no TV, no telephone. Then they stripped his room of everything but bed and clothes. They took away his dressers because they discovered he was hiding things to entertain himself in them. Then they made him quit playing hockey, the only sport he ever seemed to care about. For a while after that one, we though he might turn a corner, but sooner than later he was back to his old ways.

By the time high school came around, my brother had become interested in music, specifically guitar. During the summer (the only time of year a grounding wasn't imminent) he convinced my folks to let him get a guitar and some lessons. He also started growing his hair long, to add to his rock star persona. By the end of the first quarter, he had mastered some basic music skills and his hair had grown an impressive amount. So when the report cards came out and he failed pretty much everything? My mother took clippers to his head and shaved him bald. I could hear him crying in the shower afterwards. He wasn't allowed to play his guitar until the next report card. Unsurprisingly, he did much better that term. But then he went right back to his old habits. I remember so clearly watching him hand his report card over to my parents, assuring them that he had passed every class. They told him straight out that if he was lying, it would be the same punishment as before. I wanted to shake him! Out came the clippers again.

Since then, my brother's path had changed many times. I was planning to tell you all about his current life situation, but man I went on forever there, didn't I? I guess it'll have to be a two part series. As a preview, there was a stint as a garbage man, a semester at college, and job as a roller blading, guitar playing middle eastern man. I bet you can't wait!

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7 comments:

radioactive girl said...

BUT, your brother sounds like a lot of fun!

Amy Jo said...

He is a hoot! Just wait until I get to the second installment.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Wow, she shaved his head? I can only imagine the kind of frustation your poor mom must have felt.bf

Her Bad Mother said...

My husband - HBF - has an older brother who is the very model of a modern dabbler: roller-skating instructor, musician, film set decorator, resident of an ashram... and it's tempting to call him childish, or bemoan the fact that he could never settle down. The thing is, he's a fascinating guy. And a fun guy. And now, a great dad.

Your brother sounds fascinating and fun, too. A great source for stories.

Amy Jo said...

I love my brother to death. In fact, he's going to be #2's godfather. I'm just glad that his life events didn't take too long to play out! So far, anyway!

Omar Cruz said...
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Omar Cruz said...
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