Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Brother Series: Ben

Ben is my youngest brother, and my favorite. I realize I'm not supposed to say this, but he's the only one that ever reads this blog, so he wins by default.

He was trying to tickle me, little fucker
He was a shithead of a kid, the kind that I wanted to strangle for various reasons. Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of examples. One being that he was the type of kid that would blow out candles. You know - other people's birthday candles, candles when the power goes out during a tornado warning...the candle inside the INCREDIBLE jack-o-lantern that I'd just carved, in fact the first pumpkin I'd ever carved in my whole life, the one I was so proud proud in fact that I drove it all the way to my dad's house to show it off, where they turned off the lights so I could demonstrate how AMAZING it was when all aglow...only to have Ben blow out the candle. Repeatedly. Again and again (I'm sure you know what the word repeatedly means, but I'm just making sure you get the point here). Even after everyone started yelling and getting pissed, saying "Ben! Come on, cut it out!" he would just hesitate, snicker, then do it again. He was such a little prick.

Around the time I became of babysitting age, my step-mom put two-and-two together and asked if I might want to spend some more time at their place during the summer. Translation: Babysit my Shithead Kid for Free.

As a youth I was naive and eager to please, so of course I said yes. Aside from the fact that I had a lot more freedom in that house than in my own, I felt very worldly spending my summer months in Kalamazoo, and thought it might give me some much-needed clout when I went back to my hometown of Gobles. It didn't.

I had to feed and keep safe this youngest-born of my dad's, and every day as I was making lunch Ben would yell from the living room "I Want Lunch! Feed Me Lunch...SLAVE!" It killed me that I had to actually feed him after that. But I didn't want to make his mom mad, so I dished up his boxed mac n' cheese with a healthy side of lifelong resentment. I knew that would show him!

Ben is very cool now, if still a bit cocky in that I'm-Way-Better-Than-Everyone-Else way. Somehow he pulls that attitude off and has never been punched in the face, which I've never understood. In fact he and a friend of mine were discussing how they've never been punched in the face, despite being completely obnoxious dicks when they're drunk, so Ben punched him in the face...and STILL didn't get punched back! Voodoo.

Aside from finally being cool enough for me to want to hang out with socially, Ben has his own stuff going on, too. He's kind of a really, really good musician, and has contributed to lots of bands and albums and stuff.  He makes genius music mixes, and has gotten me through any number of situations with his depth of musical knowledge. I'm someone that is heavily affected by music, so I appreciate this skill. (Even though he for some reason doesn't have Peter Gabriel in his repertoire, I've finally  let that go).

He used to make me random mixes just for fun, with lots of Beach House and The Dirty Projectors on them. When my ex and I split up, I asked for a breakup mix - something to listen to when I needed to embrace my anger, heartbreak, and disillusionment. That mix included Famine Affair by Of Montreal. Just take a minute here and pretend you've been jilted. Now listen to that song. How does he do it?!  I also found this cover by James Blake appropriate.

We thought this would be
a really funny Christmas card...
to send to everyone else in our family.
Ben has been helping me plan all kinds of hijinks over the years, and recently moved to San Francisco to do so in closer proximity. Before he found his own place, he slept on my couch and "worked" from my dining room table. Basically this meant he turned on his computer then had a leisurely breakfast, shower, and then lunch; at which point he logged off and called it a day.

I talk to him more than any of  my other siblings but I honestly don't know what he does for a living. Something about computers...? I can't give you any more specifics than that.

I know that whatever he does pays well and affords him a really dumb lifestyle (read: I'm grumpy and crotchety and jealous). He drinks a lot of beer. The other night I got a text from him asking me to run down the street to the Russian River Brewing Company to buy him as much of their new fancy-pants limited-edition beer as I could. I tried to explain that I needed to somehow scrabble together enough money to pay my rent and bills, which already seemed unlikely, and that buying beer for him was not exactly in my budget. He assured me that he'd send me a check, and suggested that I just go ahead and use my credit card, because it would be expensive - like $10 a bottle. I patiently explained that I am not a rich person and don't have a credit card. He rolled his eyes (this was all via text, but I'm pretty sure I could read an eye-roll in there) and said just to get as many as I could.

I did some creative math and walked down for his beer, where I was informed that it was actually FIFTEEN dollars a bottle. Fuck! I thought about all the things I could pay off if I was a person who could afford $15 beers. I started getting bitter and feeling old. But then I remembered that there's a very slim chance that Ben will some day be married, maybe even with kids. And when money is really, really tight he'll look back on the days when he did nothing with his ever-flowing cash except drink it away - even though his intelligent and beautiful older sister Amanda warned him against it. And then I will GLOAT.

Oh yes, yes I will. That will be a glorious imaginary day, indeed.

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