The problem with having two email accounts is that some of the most important people in my life only use the one that I check when there's a full moon, which means a family member will occasionally try to contact me and hear nothing for days at a time.
Such was the case Monday, when my older brother Tim sent me a short note that I didn't receive until today. At first, I thought he was just saying hello, nice to see you last weekend (he met his newest nephew for the first time), hope things are going well - that sort of stuff. But by the second paragraph, it was obvious that something was bothering him. I won't reprint it here, because it was a private correspondence and should remain that way, but here's the gist of it: Tim thinks he's done a shitty job of being my big brother, up to and including the fact that we haven't kept in touch much lately.
Here's the thing: my brother is awesome. Fucking awesome, in fact. And I will prove it by creating two lists: the first, all the ways he messed up my life over the years, the second, all the cool shit he's done to help me out.
- Around my freshman year in college, I came home for a visit and spent the night at Tim's apartment. He was having a party, we both had a few too many (he was hammered, I was drunkish), and ended up throwing down in the parking lot of his building. Actually, "throwing down" isn't even accurate; we were fooling around, I took him down and accidently hit his head on the ground, he got pissed and held me down for a few seconds. Foolishness, yes, but nothing that doesn't happen at every Gallagher family reunion. Still, foolish or not, I get the impression that it still bothers him from time to time. It shouldn't.
- When I was eleven, he yelled at me once for not catching a ball that he threw over my head. I had such a horrible upbringing.
- Tim was the best man at my wedding, which in his mind meant that the bachelor party was his responsibility. And by "his responsibility", I mean "he paid for everything." It was perfect, one of the greatest nights of my life: my brother and three good friends, playing pool and looking at naked chicks (in fact, I returned to my parents' house, where we were spending the night, at about 2 A.M., and proudly told my mother, "I saw boobs") - and really, I owe it all to him (I also owe him $20 for a lap dance that I insisted he receive, but was too drunk to realize that somebody had to pay for it).
- When I was twelve, we went to the local recreation area and he pitched to me for an entire afternoon, with the promise of a trip to the store and a brand-new bat if I managed to hit one out. I did - exactly one - and he paid off with not one, but two bats. Fifteen years later, I still have them both.
- Later that same year, I came up to bat with my team down one and the bases loaded in the final inning. I turned on an inside pitch, drilling it down the first base line for the game winning hit. As I left the box, clapping my hands and enjoying the moment, I looked over at the crowd. There was Tim, standing by the chain link fence, going absolutely nuts. He might've been happier than I was.
- Again, around that time (1992 was a good year for our relationship), he invited me into his room to watch videos on MTV (yes, kids - MTV used to show music videos). Not a big deal, you say? Try telling that to a twelve-year-old kid with a twenty-year-old brother. Nothing could have meant more. Nothing.
- The very first adult movie I ever saw? An unlabeled videotape that Tim left laying around his room and I popped into the VCR out of curiosity. True story.
- The best thing: Tim believes in me totally and completely. He entered me in a homerun hitting contest during a charity softball tournament a few years ago and didn't even care when I sullied the family name by putting up a nice round donut. He once suggested that I try out for a professional baseball team, because I had to be just as good as any of the guys out there on the field. And he is the most loyal reader of this blog. Last weekend, he mentioned reading a post - I figured it was something from a couple of weeks before. No, it was one that I had literally written the previous night. That matters.
So, Timothy, when you get to feeling sorry for yourself and thinking you haven't been good enough to me through the years - knock that shit off. You're my big brother, my favorite brother, and I wouldn't change that for anything.