Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Ode to my Brothers

I have 2 brothers, Walter (8 years older than me) and Kaz (4 years older than me.) There are qualities about my brothers that I really really like. Walter was always way more than tolerant than humanly possible when I needed someone to play with my stuffed animals with me when I was a little kid. And he, like all my other siblings, took me along with him to the mall, basketball games at the high school, etc., when he got his driver’s license. He didn’t seem to mind 8 year old me hanging on his 16-year-old arm when we Christmas shopped in the mall.

Kaz taught me how to shoot my first lay-up at the basketball hoop in the driveway of our childhood home. When we were kids we played endless hours of wiffle ball in the yard. We created a wiffle ball stadium complete with home run fence (the line of bushes on the edge of the yard) and a scoreboard we’d fashioned out of scrap wood and paint. Wouldn’t you just know that Kaz has constructed an ice hockey rink for his kids in his own yard? And he has painted lines on the cul-de-sac in front of his house for various sports to be played on.

Kaz is also an insanely great guitarist. He’s one of those annoying people who can play a song by ear almost instantaneously. He can play all of Ozzy Ozbourne’s "Crazy Train" note for note. I can’t hear an Iron Maiden or Pink Floyd song without thinking of Kaz. I used to accompany Kaz with an occasional harmonizing vocal, or a bass line tapped out on my Yamaha keyboard, until I learned to play guitar too. I can’t play by ear to save my life, which is why I write my own stuff.

I can rely on Kaz to quote a line from Caddyshack on a moment’s notice, and I know he’d quote lines from the Spinal Tap movie, if only he’d finally rent it and get it over with already. Kaz can make me laugh to the point where I have tears streaming down my face.

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas Eve with my brothers and my Dad this year. Christmas with my brothers is a lot of fun because they have 3 children each, and having children around at Christmas really makes the holiday fabulous. The suspense in their faces at present opening time, the ripping of the paper, the squeals of joy when the presents are opened—I love it!

Not only was Christmas fun because of the kids, but because the amount of laughing I got to do with my brothers. This Christmas Eve Kaz and I were singing Hall and Oates songs over the table to each other. The way Walter snickered when he came in from outside wearing a cowboy hat and I had said "Oh, hey Hoss" was just priceless. (But then we got into a discussion over who wore the black cowboy hat on whatever show that was, was it Little Joe or Hoss?) I mean, how great is that??

Walter got me an awesome gift this year. When I was in Kindergarten my Mom had bought me "Misha" the official mascot of the 1980 Olympics being held in Moscow that year. I promptly named the bear Jennifer, after my best friend in Kindergarten. Eventually, over the years I wore Jennifer out or grew out of her. I don’t know which came first, the wearing out or the growing out. This Christmas Eve I was opening a gift from Walter, wondering what it could be that he and his wife were so excited about giving me. Inside the box was Misha, or Jennifer, whatever her name was. They actually found me a new 1980 Olympic mascot. It’s in perfect condition, unlike Jennifer’s eventual sad state after being drug around everywhere 6 year old me went. (Misha now proudly sits on my desk at work, where nosy dogs won’t get it and rip it to shreds. With all the other random stuff on my desk: sea monkey tank, fruit lights strung about, fruit stickers on my monitor, a sign that says in Polish "Caution! Angry dog!" nobody here—at my Office Space-esque workplace--is surprised to see a bear on my desk. )

Thank you to my excellent brothers for an amazing Christmas. You guys rock, your kids rock.

Oh, and here's a picture of Misha.

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