All righty kids, I am exceptionally tired today. So tired that I wore my glasses to work and have endured the inevitable and annoying "I didn't know you wore glasses!" conversations with each and every coworker. So tired that I am wearing jeans, even though I don't particularly care for this whole Casual Friday thing because I really do enjoy keeping Ann Taylor and her kinda-uptight-but-trying-really-hard-not-to-be businesslady retail fashion contemporaries in business. So tired that I could not be bothered to change the channel when Senator Biden began speed-yammering on the morning news, so tired that I forgot to eat breakfast and am now forced to curb my hunger pains with the tiny Halloween-sized candy bars that are overflowing out of the little plastic pumpkin sitting on a table five steps away from my desk. Must there be sugar in this office? EVERY SINGLE DAY?
But I am NOT too tired to compose a thoughtful and possibly sentimental Ode to my brother on this, his 24th birthday. Hi Alex!
First, a note about Alex, who was, for the majority of my childhood, the ABSOLUTE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. And vice versa. I can say this because I will bet one gazillion dollars that Alex is in complete agreement. But now? Alex voluntarily visits my apartment and participates in such exhilarating events as movie watching and poker playing. He also recently PICKED UP THE PHONE and CALLED ME to ASK ME WHAT I THOUGHT about a singularly pathetic display of political skill. I think you should read that sentence again, the operative words being "ask me what I thought."
But once upon a time I was Queen of a most fabulous bedroom, built especially for me. ME. I had my own door, my own window, my own closet, and my own bookshelves mounted at the perfect height for someone seven or eight years of age. (It also had the most beautiful happy rainbow wallpaper in the WORLD, wallpaper my mother let me pick out ALL BY MYSELF, and I still haven't forgiven the obnoxious boy who years later moved into this bedroom and who said to me, with immense amounts of snide, "Oh, you're the one with the stupid wallpaper." Hate!) This bedroom, however, did not open into a hallway, but a PLAYROOM, a playroom built especially for all five of us. EVERYONE. This playroom contained more height-appropriate bookshelves, a gigantic table for arts and crafts (did I mention that my mother was once a first grade teacher?), a sleeper couch that lived out its last days in my first apartment after college, and a set of bunkbeds. Those bunkbeds were for the BOYS and I was in no way a part of the decision making process that declared it so. And in case you haven't figured it out, in order to get from my bedroom to the rest of the house, walking into Playroom Territory was necessary.
What was NOT necessary, for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER, was walking into MY BEDROOM. Ever! I was fully able to grasp this logic, but not Alex. Alex was ALWAYS going into my room. Why? WHY ALEX? And he would say, "Well, you walk into MY room all the TIME" and no matter how many times I patiently pointed out that going through his "room" was the only way to get anywhere else, he remained a stubborn and infuriating brat about the entire situation. And my parents? Were no help. This is what my parents had to say whenever I brought up any extremely legitimate grievance against Alex, the Thorn In My Eight-Year-Old Side: "Just ignore him." It was a mantra throughout my ENTIRE LIFE. Thanks a lot, Parents!
While he was at his most annoying in elementary school, it wasn't until junior high and high school that he got nasty. He refused- refused!- to do his chores after school, thereby risking the mighty wrath of our parents and reducing me to a quivering rage-filled psycho person who fought actual battles in her head over whether or not she would do those chores FOR him. So successful was Alex at avoiding chores and/or doing them so poorly that my mom gave up on him altogether and once asked me to "take Alex's uniform out of the dryer so it doesn't get wrinkled" while he was SITTING RIGHT THERE! I KNOW!
(Oh dear. I fear I have gone off on the kind of tangent where my mom sends me a polite little email saying something like, "Honey, please take that post off your website. And also? Get OVER IT already.")
So back to Alex- I was addressed as "Maggot" until, well, quite recently actually. He once put dog food in my cereal box. (Granted Cracklin' Oat Bran LOOKS a lot like dog food, but it is not the same.) He took great pleasure in short sheeting my bed. He attempted all kinds of embarrassing-to-a-sister activities while Important Boys were present. And the year my dad tried really hard to impress on me the necessity of checking one's oil- and I kept forgetting HOW to check the oil- my dear little brother went to an Actual Junkyard and gave to me, for Christmas, a nicely wrapped USED DIPSTICK.
But now? Alex is NICE to me. Really! Truly! It's MARVELOUS. And even though the last time he called to see what I was up to, it was because he was "broke and bored", I don't care! I am totally cool with having to bribe him with beer and a round of cards, just to get in some Quality Sibling Time. Somehow we have morphed into people who occasionally find the other interesting or knowledgeable on some subject or a good source of serious discussion. I know! WHAT IS GOING ON??? Sometimes our common ground involves making fun of the same people, and while I could find it seriously disturbing that Alex and I often agree on The Grand State Of Things, I'm just going to ignore it for the Greater Good of Getting Along With Your Still Obnoxious But Infinitely More Fun Brother.
So without further ado, a Birthday Ode:
O Alex, owner of the Spawn truck
and eater of all my Halloween cookies
(because you are too stubborn to admit
you are hungry and wouldn't mind
some leftovers for dinner)-
Happy Birthday! Now you are old,
almost graduated, and finally living
in a place where it is not possible
to catch a disease from the carpet.
Yay for you and your birthdayness
and if you are nostalgic for your
birthday parties of yore, I can TOTALLY
go get some pumpkins and scare
up a Superman costume for you.
Really. I am THAT kind of sister.
I can even recreate
the doughnut birthday cake.
I'm so glad you live nearby
and are available for bar trivia,
dinner, finishing the bag of
tortiall chips, and I really love seeing
the Spawn truck in your driveway
every day on my way home.
(Do you like how I just totally broke up my sentences to just make it LOOK like I was being poetic?!?! Am incredibly clever!)
And now I will sit and eagerly wait for the email where Alex berates me for Not Having Enough To Do With My Time. Oooh, so excited!