Monday, March 12, 2012

The Brother Series: Jason

Jason - twin of Jarrod - raised guinea pigs in his bedroom. Like, dozens and dozens of them. They stank and squealed like dying lobsters and he adored them. Kind of strange because sweetness was not really in his nature.

I have absolutely no idea what made Jason the kind of kid he was, but mother of holy shit, that guy was an asshole. He was violent, he was angry; and I was the only girl in the house that he could take it out on. He constantly threatened to hit me, leaving me with a fairly well-tuned flinch when I was around a suddenly-raised arm, for years. He would do things like punch me in the stomach, flick me in the head, grab my arm and give me nasty indian burns. He yanked my hair. If I layed down on the couch I ran the risk of him sitting on my face and farting. When we'd go swimming he would without fail wrestle my head under the water and hold it there until I was convinced I was dead. In fact, I learned to play dead from a very young age.

I fucking hated that guy.

He would break my stuff. He would steal from our mom. He sometimes spray-painted misspelled obscenities on my bedroom wall, like "Bitch Cunt Hore!!!!" On his own wall he'd write "Mom is a Bitch!" When he and our mom got into it, he'd end up throwing things at her. Like telephones, butter knives, winter boots. When he and our step-dad got into it, whoa - watch out. That guy weighs like 300 pounds but when Jason called him a fat fucker, he moved like a cheetah! Well, a really slow, overweight cheetah, but still. If he managed to catch Jason before he'd jumped out of the attic window and headed out to the gravel pits behind our house to hide for a few days, he would pin Jason down with his knee and the full force of his weight. Those were the only times I felt sorry for my brother. I'd scream for them to stop and be told to shut up and go downstairs!

Jason also suffered from delusions of grandeur. He genuinely believed that he was an actual ninja, and a professional mechanic. He was always doing back flips off of car hoods onto mattresses on the lawn, or perfecting the art of kicking or punching within a half-inch of my face. He took apart and then re-built dirt bikes so that they were louder, and faster. The police were regular visitors to our house in those days.

I can thank Jason for the fact that I never got into drugs or drinking, which is a pretty big accomplishment when you grow up in a redneck small town like I did with absolutely nothing to do to occupy yourself. Watching him chug canned beer before sniffing gas and then walking through a campfire while smoking a joint kind of turned me off of the idea of drug experimentation. It somehow didn't seem all that glamorous to me.

This was as close as you could get us for a picture
I'm happy to report that I like him now.

Several years ago, I started thinking about Jason in a different light. That dude had so much going through his head, so much pent-up anger (at everything, let me count the ways...), and had no outlet whatsoever for getting it out positively. We were a family of Denial Champions. Not so into the whole "communication" thing. At some point my mom started laughing at Jason whenever he'd get angry, and encouraged the rest of us to follow suit. So, he'd throw a fit, or yell, or slam a cupboard door, or throw a plate - we'd laugh. Right in his face.

That really couldn't have felt very good. I don't know what prompted me to suddenly and very intensely realize what that must have been like for him, but I felt like shit for my part in it. I was an adult by that point, better at talking and swallowing my pride and, heaven help me, apologizing. I wrote him a letter and did just that. I'm not sure exactly what the letter said, but in a nutshell, it conveyed my love for him, despite it all.

We've never spoken about the letter. The next time I saw him, however, he hugged me and engaged me in conversation - something we'd never done before. I felt that we understood each other, for the first time in our lives. I've extended an open-invitation to him and his family to visit me in California, and every time we see each other or talk (about once every 2 or 3 years) he brings it up and says he might try to come out sometime soon.

I honestly hope he does. I owe that guy a huge noogie.


  1. I love it when you write about things that surprise me. Kudos on this one.

    1. Thank you - I feel like what started out as a simple blog-filler turned into something bigger, or will eventually. There's a lot of material with these guys!