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Thursday, August 14, 2008



This is me with my brother Mike.

He's four years older than me but we shared a room growing up so we sometimes act like twins.

Even though he lives in Pennsylvania and I live in North Carolina, we pretty much talk just about every other day.

He's probably one of the funniest guys I know.

I can't recall a family get-together where we weren't cracking each other up for reasons that would seem unexplainable to everyone else in the room. And we usually get the spousal lectures before family visits that include the caveat: "you and your brother better behave yourselves...'

He is a simple guy with simple needs: he gave up wearing underwear years ago when his waistline no longer fit into them and he deducted shortly thereafter that one doesn't really need to use underwear. It was his first philosophical breakthrough regarding consumerism.

He also told me once how he doesn't like that feeling of being wet after he takes a shower and often blow dries himself with a hairdryer.

Back in the day, he was like Richie: he taught me how to sneak out of the house and the proper way to egg cars and was sort of a hoodlum in junior high but by the time he got into high school he was too consumed with sports and girls and didn't have much to do with me.

The whole dynamic really took a turn when he went to college.

That's when suddenly it became my job to go retrieve him when his semesters ended at West Chester. The drive was about three and a half hours from home which made it more encouraging to get there, sleep over, and come home the next day. Picking your older brother up from school was a cool thing so I often enlisted the help of my friends to ride shotgun.

One time it was me and my friend Kevin. We had arrived early and neither my brother nor his roommate Jerry had come home from school yet so a guy who lived below them offer to let us stay with him until my brother came back from his last class. It was everything off-campus housing should be: cassette tapes everywhere, empty beer cans littering the coffee table and the rank smell of pot in the air.

When my brother came home we asked him if he'd buy us some beer. So he went out and got us a six-pack of Genesee Cream Ale. After playing a few rounds of darts with my brother and Jerry, Kevin and I decided we wanted to venture out and see the campus. We walked down the three flights of stairs and made the trek to High Street. It was night time and most of the campus had already started to shut down for break so - dejected - Kevin and I made our way back to my brother's crib. When we reached the third floor and the door of his apartment, the hall light was out which made it pitch black and rendered us blind. We had to feel our way with the key to the doorknob only we had no idea which key it was which made our efforts even more of a challenge.

At some point I guess I was trying to line up a key to the hole with Kevin standing right over my shoulder squinting in the exact same position as me, when we suddenly heard the click and the door opened. But the key was stuck in the handle. I yanked it out and ended up butting my elbow into Kevin's nose which quickly exploded with blood. By the time we got to the top of the steps inside blood was everywhere. When my brother saw Kevin's face he jumped up and hollered, "Jesus Christ what happened?" Much to my dismay, Kevin uttered, "Somebody sucker punched me."

"What!!??" screamed my brother.
"Where? Who? " he said.
Then he turned to his sleeping roommate and said, "Jerry get the fuck up. Someone tagged Greg's friend in the face."

Now Jerry was a Marine who took up boxing and could lick any body's ass in two quick seconds.

"Where is the guy?"

It was then that Kevin realized the seriousness of the situation and 'fessed up that it was a joke and that I had bashed his nose with my elbow.

But it also was one of those defining moments when you realize that despite what differences you might have or the beefs you got into as kids your brother had your back: that he would kick some body's ass for kicking yours without question.

Of course, neither of us have ever had to ante up on that, I mean we're Italian - we are as they say, "lovers not fighters."

So this year I was super excited to be able to vacation with my brother and his family. It had been almost 15 years since my brother and I got to hang out at the shore with one another. So in honor of that, I reprised a look I had 20 years before and went and bleached my hair for the occasion.

This time around, only one person managed to come up with a witty Billy Idol jab...

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