I was born 13 and a half months after my older brother (Alex). This has provided me with unspeakable advantages on a daily basis that I could fill a 300 page book. I won’t do that here, but I will tell you why having an older brother has enormously helped shape who I am.
The older sibling (brother in my case) is the pioneer. He is the one who forged ahead into uncharted territory with no previous example to go off of. Lewis and Clark ventured westward but only after learning from all the mistakes previous pioneers made. (But of course people only remember Lewis and Clark).
In many instances in my life, I have been Lewis (or Clark, you pick) and my brother was the one who paved the way for me. Growing up I was completely useless on the soccer field, however my parents being the shrewd bargainers that they are demanded that whatever team wanted my brother (who was the best Goalkeeper in a 50 mile radius) needed to reserve a spot for lil ole Brian. I was cool by association, I was Alex’s brother.
Being popular on the soccer field also translated into popularity in the classroom as well. Alex made varsity soccer as a freshman – not that our high school soccer program was as serious as some small one horse town in Texas and its high school football (cue James Van Der Beek ” I don’t want your life”). But still, I was one year behind him and when it was my turn as a freshman I had the benefit to not only learn from my brother’s experience but to also benefit directly from it.
However, let me just clarify one thing. While being a younger brother certainly has its advantages (I’ve mentioned just two general examples above) it certainly has its disadvantages. The one main disadvantage is, of course, regularly being pummeled by your older brother – normally without a valid reason.
I am not here to vilify my brother (in fact quite the opposite) but I do want to mention a quick memory of mine from my childhood. The first one was a classic 1 v 1 basketball game between us (I was ~13 and he was ~14). I had the ball and was facing him up about 15 feet from the hoop.
***CAUTION: I REMEMBER BEING A MUCH BETTER BASKETBALL PLAYER THAN I ACTUALLY WAS AND THE BELOW STORY MAY SLIGHTLY EXAGGERATE MY SKILLZ***
I proceeded to cross him up so badly (think Allen Iverson vs. Michael Jordan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3X274lz3wY) except instead of stopping and pulling up for a jump shot I dribbled past him toward the rim.
I had a smirk on my face after completing the move and zooming past my unbalanced brother – that feeling of pure satisfaction you get when you realize you’ve made the right decision on the check-out line at the supermarket, or the feeling you get when you are playing Monopoly and you land on Boardwalk. I lift off my feet, stretch out my right hand in perfect form (I assure you it was far from perfect but hey, why not) eyes gazed at the spot where I will gently kiss the ball off the board to complete my lay-up when all of a sudden….
He chops me down with the most vicious of moves it would make Chuck Lidell stop and applaud. Alex knees me straight in my standing leg giving me one of the worst Charlie Horses I have ever received in my entire life. My glorious sequence from the between the legs dribble to the cross over to the “zoom, zoom” to the lay-up I had imagined in my mind and I had hoped to complete to score the point (and more importantly to snatch the upper hand in our taunts and trash-talks,) was gone.
There I was, writhing in agony on the cold concrete, pains shooting in my thigh, and my arm and side scraped from the fall. The most obscene of expletives rumble out of my mouth as if it was as involuntary as exhaling. You piece of *BEEP, why the *BEEP did you *BEEP, you are such a *BEEP, *BEEP, *BEEP!
And next, I do what any normal little brother does who is not as strong, not as fast, and not as agile as his older brother: I look for the nearest object next to me and hurl it in his direction. It so happened that it had rained the night before and there were several large sticks laying about. I clutched one in my hand and hurled it at my brother as if it was a dynamite stick about to explode. The small branch/big stick smashed into my brother’s legs and broke in half. He looked at me as if I was a dead-man walking. I IMMEDIATELY regretted that decision (Boy I did not think that one through!)
I ran. Without a destination or a hide out or a plan B , I just took off. My brother chased after me as if I had just stolen his wallet, kicked him where the sun don’t shine, and called his girlfriend a fat cow. I zigged, I zagged , I ran around the house and into the grass, adrenaline pumping, sweat pouring down my brow, legs churning. I couldn’t run fast enough. He kept gaining on me and gaining on me no matter how quickly my legs moved. I nervously kept looking over my shoulder to see him approaching closer and closer. I stopped and ran in 90 degree angles hoping to lose him like a bank robber loses a police tail. For a split-second I thought I was safe, I thought he was slowing down to a stop, when I hit a puddle, lost my balance, and face-planted into the grass. Game over.
My brother slows down to a jog and probably says something a la Clint Eastwood, “Do ya feel lucky, punk?.” I look at him knowing I was about to take a beating…and I was right. He jammed my head into the puddle over, and over again while screaming, “Don’t you ever throw a stick at me again!” I manage to get out, “I wouldn’t have you *BEEPING *BEEP if you didn’t knee me on purpose” which only made the grass-filled swirlie even worse. He stopped, once I shut my mouth, and walked inside.
Ah, the joys of being a younger brother. But you know what, I learned my lesson and all of the poundings hardened me. Having an older brother who grew perpetually stronger, faster, wiser made me work harder and develop my skills. I learned to try to outsmart him (something which worked for a little while but only until he caught me). I am immeasurably a better person in every regard because of my older brother. I wouldn’t change anything and I wouldn’t trade my relationship with him for anything in the world.
Thank you Aggie*
*(his nickname is Aggie because my sister couldn’t pronounce his name when she was younger and instead said “aggie”)