Today is my brother's birthday.
Growing up can't have been easy for him. He was the youngest of four and the only boy trapped in a house full of girls who were always trying to do things like put him a sewing machine bag and carry him around. There are some other stories I could tell that I think my brother might prefer I keep to myself and so I shall. But here are some I think are okay to share...
I think, first and foremost, I have to tell you about the two minute game even if it does make me look like a not nice person. Sigh.
Growing up, we had a finished basement that doubled as our playroom. We had a toy box which one day I think we pretty nearly emptied. This delighted my mother so she told me, B and Jake that we had to clean up our mess. So we sat around the room, looking at the mess and then an idea that shall forever live in infamy was born: The Two Minute Game.
Here's how you play...
Each person has two minutes to put away as many toys as he or she can. Whoever puts away the most toys, wins.
Jake got to go first. He played hard, ran hard and zipped around that room gathering toys to be returned to the toy box. And he won because he managed to put all those damn toys away before his time was up. It was the best day ever. Jake was the undisputed champion of the two minute game. Right up until the point where he learned to tell time and realized that perhaps, just maybe, his sisters were scamming him.
And thus was the end of the two minute game.
But I think we've moved on from that. He still hangs out with me and sometimes, I think, it's because he might actually want to.
We still play games. Only these are more the Milton Bradley variety. Jake is now the undisputed champion of Dirty Word Scrabble. He's also one of a very small number of people who are willing to play either Scene It or Reel Clues with me.
We worked together at The Store before The Store and had a grand ole time mocking the management (even if I was technically one of them) and every now and then, we reminisce about Chuck, freakishly tall Andrew and poor skittish Cameron and wonder where they are in life. Chuck, I'm guessing, is in a Cracker Barrel somewhere. No idea on the other two.
We've done some traveling together too. One of the good things about Jake is that he's always willing to pose for the funny pictures (like the one of our sword fight in the Outer Banks toy shop) no one else is. We met Kenny in Orlando and discovered that Kenny is an endless source of entertainment. We even went north of the border to Montreal We went to Bar Harbor and froze off our asses on the top of Cadillac Mountain one morning in order to see the sunrise.
Jake bought me my first real sword and was thoughtful enough to make sure it was small enough to enable me to swing it around (Joe, by the way, appreciates this to no end). He responds to every random sports question I send his way and never outwardly laughs when I express my desire to be a defensive football playing tackling person. He also tells me the proper names for these positions, over and over again too. When I ask writing questions, he is always full of helpful and hilarious suggestions. Many a scene has been finished with Jake's help.
He brought me to Fenway for the first (and second) time and took me to stalk Jacoby Ellsbury this summer. When we watch the Pats play, he's the one who makes me feel less alone when I'm screaming at the television. And when the Red Sox won the world series in 2004, it was incredibly special to have someone call me on the phone the moment the game ended, that late at night, who knew exactly how I was feel at that moment.
We share a sense of humor which is fantastic because it guarantees that at least one person out in the world will understand what the hell it is I'm talking about. This is invaluable. In addition to understanding my references, he also makes references of his own and it thrills me to no end when they involve the collective works of Joss Whedon and Amy Sherman-Palladino. Plus, we both find Monty Python and the Holy Grail to be very funny. Unlike either of our significant others.
Now I'm going to be a little mushy for a moment because I really feel lucky to have a brother with whom I can share all these things. A lot of people don't have that type of relationship with a sibling and, for them, I feel sorry because it really is a very awesome thing. As evidenced by all of the above.
So Happy Birthday to the undisputed champion of both the Two Minute game and Dirty Word Scrabble. I wish you many more.