If you don’t have a brother, get yourself one

Dude, I’m tellin’ ya……….

I’ve extolled the virtues of family on some of my posts here a few times. My dad is battling some ill health right now and the whole family’s thoughts are with him constantly. My mom is the rock of the family. The epitome of a classic mom. Marian Cunningham from Happy Days. June Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. I had a cousin who was one of my best buddies. A real crazy man. We had a million laughs before he died way too young.

But I’ve only mentioned my brother in some passing events. He’s one of the regular Sunday football guys and he sometimes can go a little overboard when the Steelers are losing. And I’ve mentioned him as we went to the Chicago Blackhawks game together behind the glass last month and went to check out the band  West 34  together. 

The thing is, if you are a guy and you have a brother, you know what I’m talking about here. You are truly a rich man. Especially if you have just one brother. You have an ally that will have your back in any fight. You have a drinking partner any time you need one. A confidante any time you’re pissed at the world.

This brother of mine is really something. Ask anybody who knows him. Quite the character.

And the cool thing is that we enjoy doing things together and hang out quite a bit. I just went out for some hot wings and a few beers with him this past Friday afternoon. Of course, he picked up all my beers as soon as he got to the bar since he knows I’ve been off work for so long. And that’s not the first time. When I was off work the last time the economy was in the shitter—shortly after 9/11/2001—–we used to join a few other friends every Wednesday night for “Marguerita night” at Pepe’s Mexican restaurant. And he covered my end of the tab for a good four or five months.

Not only have we seen Hawks games right behind the glass together, but we also went to a Chicago Bears game at the 50 yard line courtesy of tickets from Mrs. McCaskey herself. Bro was her personal assistant at the fine china and giftware store that we worked at together. He had gotten me a job there after I had used up my usefulness at my prior stop. So whenever Virginia McCaskey came into the shop, she requested that my bro assist her. And eventually she gave him a pair of tix for a game. Sweet tix. And bro never hesitated in taking me to that game. {We beat the Chargers’ ass when they still had Drew Brees as their rookie quarterback}.

We also saw Game 1 of the 1984 National League playoffs together when the Cubs drubbed the Padres 13-0. Our dad threw in the big assist on that one by letting his young sons skip school that day and go to Wrigley on our own—sacrificing the experience himself. Me and bro had the time of our lives as the Cubs whupped ass that day.

The cool thing is that I have a lot of friends that have a single brother themselves. One of the best guys I know, Dick Ourada (front man of the legendary Dick Ourada Band lauded in this blog) has one brother. He’s the drummer in the band. So the two of them are pushing 40 at this point and still get together and kick out tunes and hang out all the time. Very close.

Then I have another set of buddies that are brothers. They live together at the moment. They’ve actually lived together on-and-off because usually at one point……just like me and my bro……if one guy is UP, the other guy can often be DOWN. But both of them are like brothers to me and would happily give you the shirt off their backs. Two of the greatest guys that I know.

When we were smaller kids, my brother and I used to wrestle like cats and dogs. We’d argue over a game of electric football or an Atari game. And I vivdly recall how one time my dad broke up one tussle by saying,

“Knock it off !! What is the matter with you guys? You’re supposed to be buddies ! When I had two sons, I thought they’d be friends for life. You’re supposed to look out for each other. I always wished I had a brother (he had three sisters). It breaks my heart to see you guys fighting all the time.”    

He had a legitimate pained look on his face. And I can honestly say that what he said ended that particular argument right there. And I have to think that he’s pretty happy about the buddies that me and bro have turned out to be. If anyone messes with my brother, they’re messing with me. And I have every confidence in the world that it is vice verse.

My bro and I play in the same fantasy baseball league. We share entries in various sports pools. We check out cool music together and share CDs. When we were kids, we egged houses together and set off smoke bombs on the neighbors’ porches. Threw snowballs at buses and cars. We shared a paper route. He came down to see me in Carbondale at SIU and it was Animal House down there. We’ve seen AC/DC together twice, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy (numerous times), the Who (that was quite an adventure), and numerous others. I even turned his ass on to the TV show Survivor (which he mocked with a passion previously). He turned me on to Family Guy.

We’ve gone to Vegas together and tore it up.

He’s the only guy who can keep up with me shot-for-shot when we’re drinking. The only one.

I just wish that some of the cool friends I have that don’t have a brother had one.

I have a sister too who is the ultimate. Without her, the family would kind of be splintered with my p’s living in another state and everything. She’s awesome in a thousand ways.

And one time, my mom told me that sis once said in a conversation that she wished she had a sister that she could hang out with and confide in and be close to. I know where she is coming from. I would feel exactly the same way if there was another sister and I didn’t have bro.

Man, that would suck. Big time.

So if you don’t have a brother, I’m very sorry. There is a friend that no matter what happens, I will drop what I’m doing and go on a rampage if necessary. Nobody…..and I mean nobody..messes with my brother.   


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