20 June, 2017

Some musings on the absence of the 13th floor

It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea. – Dylan Thomas

My brother lives on the 15th floor of a very tall building with a view of Lake Erie. The view is gorgeous. Cleveland is a nice town and I always enjoy my visits there.

We grew up not really talking much. I've come to think of it as an indication that we lived in two very different worlds. Or rather, we each created very different worlds to inhabit buried in the same basic reality as everyone else -- where gravity and girls were inevitable and occasionally painful forces of nature, where our small town was, in many ways, the wrong kind of small for us to stick around and flourish, and where without our respective self-created realities, we probably would not have made it out as clearly well adjusted as we are.

Once, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, we went to this bar near where my mom lives that's no longer there. It was called "The London Bridge Piano Bar." The only piano was on the sign hanging above the door. Both the sign and the door had seen better days. I don't know if he'd been to many truly divey dive bars before then. I've spent a lot of time in them, especially back in those days. I still had my long hair and biker leather. He's always been more aware of fashion labels and professional couture. After a few drinks, one of the two or three people who were day drinking there asked if we were cops.

At the time, I thought the lousy drunk probably got most of his notions about under cover cops from prime time television. In hindsight, having watched the ridiculous -- and obvious -- links my state trooper ex-brother-in-law went to in order to try and look like an unsavory criminal type in a massive sting attempt to get people stripping copper out of houses left empty thanks to Bush II's subprime mortgage crisis -- I wish I could go back and buy that barfly a drink.*

Another time -- also around 10 or 15 years ago -- we were in a grocery store line. I don't remember what we were buying. The woman working the check out -- who was cute, as I recall -- asked if he was my parole officer. At the time, I may have remarked (or maybe I just thought) that I must be moving up in the world, going from a presumed undercover cop to a parole.

Both events stuck us both as funny, though maybe for different reasons. His sense of humor tends to be a little drier than mine, but we both appreciate absurdity. Most humor is based on mistaken assumptions and basic human absurdity.

One of the things I like about visiting my brother is that more than maybe anyone other than my wife, he gets me. And I think I get him, too. We're both creative in our ways, introspective in our ways. And we've both gone about creating our worlds in seemingly very different ways. But for both of us have build our worlds around our respective work.  It's a difficult thing to explain when people focus on the surface differences between us. A lot of people have made that mistake, and probably will continue to. It doesn't matter. A man with one brother in the world who understands him is never alone.

*The sum total of his "cover" was to grow a beard that looked entirely unnatural on his face, wear wrinkled t-shirts, and sport a backwards ball cap. He also pulled down his Facebook Page... but of course, his wife didn't.

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