The story goes when my brother Scottie was born, the nurses held my mother's legs together to prevent his birth until the doctor arrived. As a result, he was born rather blue and cranky. His life did not get off to a good start. He quickly disproved my parents' proud theories about child rearing. Their theories may have worked on me, but they were a failure where my brother was concerned. When he was born, I was three years old so I was not too interested in his arrival. He was a curiosity and soon considered a pest. He broke my toys and had terrible temper tantrums. He would hold his breath until he turned blue and my mother would plant a cold wash cloth on his face to make him breath.
Three years later, I got another brother, Lance. This one was not so obnoxious. In fact, he was a great play thing. I didn't mind dressing him up and enrolling him in my daylong dramas. He was easy-going and rarely complained about anything. But Scottie remained a constant source of irritation in my life, and my parents fretted over his lack of social skills, his shyness, and his difficult adjustment to school. He didn't lack for intelligence, just confidence and a basic inability to deal with the normal stages of growing up. Life was somehow more difficult for him and, well, he wasn't that much fun to be around. He whined, he fought with my brother Lance, and he was always getting in trouble for something because he wasn't clever enough to manipulate parents and other grownups.
Things didn't get much better between us when we entered our high school years. Scottie frequently threatened to beat the shit out of me. I just laughed it off, and when that didn't work, we had a few knock-down, drag-out fights. I never lost a fight, which made him even more resentful. Sometimes he started the fight; sometimes I invited it by teasing him. Once he came after me with a butcher knife. Another time he wrapped his arm around my neck and tried to throttle me. I bit him pretty hard on the arm and he complained to my father. My father was FURIOUS with me. I have to say I was unrepentant and proud of my skills as a brawler.
Now that we are "mature" adults, the fights still go on even though he lives on the East Coast and I live on the West Coast. He recently called me a zombie for voting for Obama. He said I would probably vote for Satan too. I listen to all his bizarre opinions based on an almost complete absence of facts and I think I'm being confronted by Satan or at least a close friend of his. His view of the world is dark and dreary and he likes it that way. He claims to be a good Christian, but he thinks half of the population are unworthy leeches on the government. Yeah, and he likes his guns too.
I wonder how it is that we had the same parents yet developed such different attitudes toward life. I never witnessed this kind of anger or resentment in either of my parents. So I guess I am going to have to reconcile myself to the fact that my brother is a curmudgeon and that at least there is a whole continent between us.
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