Oh Brother, Our Brother
My grandparents lived in Dallas until I was about 10 years old. Very regularly, they would fly to Albuquerque, stay at the Holiday Inn and invite us all over for “Cocktail Hour”. It was several years before my sister, Christie, and I realized this had anything to do with drinking – beyond Grandfather’s perpetual glass of bourbon, Cocktail Hour simply meant airplane peanuts from Grandma, unrestricted access to a semi-heated pool and as much cheese-in-a-can as two kids could spray on a box worth of Wheat Thins.
The first time I experienced the real version, it was every day for over a week. When Grandma died. Which, yeah. Was a lot less like Cocktail Hour and more like Drink and Drown. The last time I experienced it, it was also every day for a week. When our friend Mike got married last month. This time, it was a dizzying series of DUDE! YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED! WE LOVE YOU, MAN! drinks that weren’t quite strong enough and definitely didn’t last long enough.
Mike reveals one of Man-Kind’s most ancient secrets: can openers ALSO double as a BOTTLE openers. Huzzah!
Mike’s been my friend for seventeen years, but he’s been Trav’s for far longer than that. They’ve grown up together, so much like brothers that Mike’s parents call Trav their third son. They’ve shared colorful, terrible, wonderful things that I know as a wife, a woman, a third-person-late-comer, I’ll never be able to fully appreciate.
And that is one of the things I love about them most.
Every time these guys get together, I can sit back and watch their whole history replay in the span of ten minutes. Brothers in every way that matters, Trav and Mike crack each other up like nobody’s business, sharing all the latest news and telling all the same stories. Stories I hope they’ll tell ‘till the day they’re hobbling around together in brown sweaters and canes, chasing old ladies down the halls of their retirement center like life-size versions of Statler & Waldorf.
Mike’s been his friend, his wingman, his brother. Which means he’s also been mine. And while still have no idea how exactly I earned my place with either one of these men – I am so very, very thankful to have it.
Seventeen years. It doesn’t feel like it could possibly have been that long. And yet…diving into my Closet-of-Unfulfilled-Scrapbooks a few days ago, I discovered this pearl from New Year’s Eve 1993, and wondered how the hell we were ever so young:
Seriously. WHERE DOES THE TIME GO?! Can I get one of those Magic Dumbledore Bowls that’ll let me relive the past whenever I want…oh wait. That’s right. I CAN DO THAT ANYTIME. LIKE RIGHT NOW.
When I first met Mike I had no clue who he was. Which, yes. Is true for everyone who meets anyone on this planet. But for me this was notable because Mike was IN MY OWN GRADUATING CLASS. In four years of High School, I had never seen him, spoken to him, or partnered with him in Chemistry class. (Although if I had, I might have passed. Math: “HI!” Jules: “BYE!”)
All I knew was that I was standing in his driveway at midnight on a spring Friday night. Sometime very close to graduation, after a fun-but-awkward evening of mini-golf that included burgers, arcade games and several visits to the restroom to debate whether I’d successfully done my hair in a way that did not resemble a Cocker Spaniel. My friend, Jenny, had invited me. While she and her boyfriend were on a date.
And it was definitely NOT one of those ‘I need a girlfriend because I’m not too sure about this’ situations. She was popular. I was a ghost. We knew each other from band. The only thing I think she knew about me for sure was that I spent many, many Friday nights at home reading comic books.
She asked me out of pity. And I did not care. In fact, I was grateful. If not terrified.
I NEVER went out. Never, never, never, Neh-VER. Which is was what made everything so painfully awkward. I had NO IDEA how to act. So I spent the entire night feeling like a moron who was trying too hard. (Maybe I don’t have to point this out, but when your whole goal in life is not being noticed, you COMPLETELY forget how to be ‘fun’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘capable of human conversation’. If, god forbid, someone DOES notice you, flipping 180 degrees to ‘normal’ usually results in over-shooting it by 360 degrees. Because you’re also obsessing about not saying or doing something stupid. AND IT IS FUCKING EXHAUSTING.)
It also did not help that her boyfriend was the guy I knew as ‘That Cute Boy Who Likes to Sneak Up to My Locker, Jab Me in the Side and Scare the Jeebus Out of Me’. He was nice, fun and thoroughly confusing in that ‘sure would be fun to figure you out’ kind of way.
He was Travis.
As soon as we ran out of quarters and the Putt-Putt started shutting down, he suggested going to his buddy’s house. At midnight. To hang out. In the driveway. Where there was nothing but a star-lit sky to distract anyone from the words coming out of their mouths. Immediately, I wanted to crawl under a rock and die. I was SURE I’d say SOMETHING stupid. And then they’d laugh. And laugh. And laugh. For a hundred-million years, they’d laugh. At me. Forever.
So I said nothing. For a while, we sat in an open truck bed. I tried to find the furthest back corner. Then they stood in the driveway. I found a spot on the curb. Literally from the shadows, I watched the three of them talking and laughing in a brilliant flood of garage light. Mike had such a friendly way about him. Trav and Jenny seemed so comfortable together. Me? I just felt…wrong. Inside and out.
They had an ease. An openness I longed to know. For a moment I wondered if THAT might be what love was like.
And I was close.
Those are the things that LEAD to love, if you’re brave enough to figure out who you are, and who they are, along the way.
Wow. So that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Mike’s wedding. I’m not sure why I wanted to write about that so much, but clearly I did because I’ve been working on it for a month. I guess I’m trying to say that life has a funny way of working out. And I’m really glad it worked out the way it has.
From the moment Trav and I started dating, Mike has been my brother. He and his family never made me feel weird, or unwelcome, or anything but part of the family, even when I was young and naive and wore jewelry in their house that was 100% against their religion. Or when I worried he & Trav might be fighting so I stopped by to talk for 45 minutes while a zit BLED DOWN MY CHIN and neither Mike nor his mother ever said A WORD about it. (Had I known, I would have died. I would have gone to the bathroom and killed myself. With soap. Cotton puffs. Anything.) Or when his dad saw me driving down the street and followed me so he could wave ‘hi’, but because I hadn’t yet discovered GLASSES, thought he was some sort of axe-murderer and spent 15 blocks trying to get away.
Best Man & Groom, 1998
Trav and I have had Mike to ourselves for a long time. We’ve been spoiled, just a little I think, to have known such times when his attention was all ours. It would be easy to be jealous. If he wasn’t so wonderful, and she so perfect.
Congratulations Mike & Lori! We love you two.View more pictures here.
P.S. Doing your own acrylic nails before a wedding? BAD IDEA.
P.P.S. Fake eyelashes, however? RULE. Now I wear them EVERY DAY. Except when I get the glue in my eye.
P.P.P.S. Trav read the first draft of this and said I was a goofball. I said you were all PROBABLY already aware of that.
P.P.P.P.S. Thank you for reading this goofball’s blog.