I always assumed that my brother was the perfect child with my parents. But, I wasn’t my brother. I was a life insurance salesman.
My brother was the good student. I wasn’t. I know. Who do I have to blame for that? President Nixon. But my brother got the attention that I wanted. And I got the pastrami on rye that he wanted.
My mother, she adored my brother.
She put him on a pedestal. This made changing light bulbs easy and sleeping impossible. She wanted me to be like him. So we often wore the same underwear.
And I learned that I was responsible for my mother’s problems. And my mother solved her problems by getting the other person to go to therapy. So I went to a lot of therapy.
When I was seven, my brother and I were playing along the side of the road in an area with new housing construction. And a drunk driver jumped the curb and he hit, in order, my brother, and me. Then the driver changed the order and we formed a conga line.
My brother, feeling the rhythm, started to get up, and was hit on the right hip. But it threw him down in such a way that it broke his left leg. It’s amazing it wasn’t a compound fracture. And, the wheel, now without a tire, now ran over his left wrist. And the tire, now without a wheel, retired in Miami.
I turned to run and I tripped and the bumper of the car gave me a scrape on my cheek. I was the least injured. I also sold the driver a universal life insurance policy. We are fine now. The driver has flexible premiums.
But in the days that followed, and the years that followed, it always seemed to me that my brother was getting the attention that I wanted. Yet, it always seemed to my brother that I was getting the sandwiches that he wanted. And I understand that. I’m an adult. I understand.
When he came from the hospital, the school pep band came out and played in our front yard. Then, Congress ratified a bill in our kitchen making my brother exempt from meatloaf. He was getting all the attention and I wasn’t.
And I always felt that I was playing second fiddle when I should have been playing the glockenspiel. This is about resentments. And I can honestly say I resented my brother, particularly, for a long time.
Because there were many years when he got everything that he wanted out of life. He got into the college that he wanted to go to. He got into the medical school that he wanted to go to. He won a stuffed gorilla on the first try at the ring toss at the carnival.
He got the wife that he wanted. He got the kids that he wanted.
He always said that he wanted a son and a daughter two years apart. And he had a son, and a daughter, two years apart. Same birthday. Same arch supports.
It seemed that everything was handed to him on a silver platter. Maybe it was a golden platter. And I went through a long time where my brother and I didn’t communicate very much. When we did communicate, it was with semaphore flags.
And I don’t really know when I started to outgrow that. Maybe about the time I learned the definition of the word “mealy-mouthed.” So I made a list and asked him if there was anything, that, in our past that he had a real problem with. He mentioned nothing that was on my list but pointed out that I misspelled “list.”
What he complained about, was that I would tease him ceaselessly. I’d put masking tape on his nose and make him try to wiggle his nose like a bunny. I’d taunt him, “Come on, Liebling. Wiggle your nose like a bunny. Can’t you wiggle your nose like a bunny?”
Finally, he’d get mad enough to haul off and hit me. And of course, I’d go crying to our parents. And he would go to the Roller Derby.
Now, that resentment is completely gone. And my brother and I now have a fantastic relationship.
I flew to Seattle in January to go celebrate his 60th birthday, with a surprise birthday party. And we really did catch him, it was a real surprise. I gave him the pastrami on rye he always wanted. And sold him a term life policy.
4 thoughts on “Jim H. Tells His Story”
Such a heart-warming and laugh out loud memoir. So glad to have found your writing here on wordpress.
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Thank you so much! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading!
That was a wonderful story, especially the ending! I’m sure it was his favorite pastrami!
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Thank you so much! It was his favorite pastrami, the culmination of a lifelong search for the perfect cured meat. Thanks for reading!
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