For those of you who don't know me well, I have to preface this post with the fact that my family tree is short of a couple of beloved branches. My mother has 8 siblings, and both of her parents, as well as three of her brothers have passed away. My brother passed in 1996, from a form of leukemia, at the age of 29. When we pass these anniversaries, all of them come to mind. Our extended family had been close enough that spending time with cousins and aunts and uncles was a bonus, not a duty. Now, cousins are grown and most of us have our own families, but we all make a point of getting together when time allows, and I think we'd all agree it doesn't happen enough :-)
Now, this is a pretty heavy topic for the midweek, and it's of course on my mind - we haven't had a November this cold since....well, 1996. My brother's anniversary is December fourth, and regrettably, this weather has a way of driving the memories of all that happened right before, and right after. To combat the gross weight of those sad memories, I've decided, this week, to post as many humorous stories as I can.
My brother had an evil wit, a quick mind, classic comic timing, and a real talent for recognizing the absurd in everyday life. Because we managed to both become broke college students at about the same time, and in the same place (Minneapolis), we had numerous opportunities to mock our poverty, and do what we could to lighten each others load. We'd also bonded in the late 80's by sharing the same damp basement, two buildings down from our job at a restaurant (the excellent Fat Lorenzo's). I don't know how many weeks we subsisted on stale pizza leftovers, but I will say we got pretty good at it.
Part of the job that I hated was the closing shift, and he had a social life to pursue, so both of us, when we were allowed to close together, hauled bunnies and tried to get the closing work done as fast as humanly possible - 20 minutes before closing. In general, this meant cranking up the tunes a bit, cruising the floors with the mops, scrubbing dishes and counters with a superhuman fury, and praying fervently, and loudly, that no more filthy feet would mar our floor, let alone be connected to a body that would order food. That would just screw Everything up and we weren't in the mood.
Light radio was the only acceptable option for the soundsystem, and one Friday night close, a few oldies but goodies hit the airwaves. Living together in a basement, and not a furnished one, either (or do cobweb forests count?), we'd pretty much honed our 'crack up the sib' talents to a high pitch, and we'd go for the throat in one-upping each other. He'd make an ass of himself on the spot if it killed time and got me laughing - and there's no time to kill like closing time.
Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" hit the radio, a song we'd been raised on, and hey, who doesn't know the words? Denny cranked the radio and swept the back, I was scrubbing the counters to death, and listened to my brother's rendition. Yup, big old plate glass windows onto Cedar Ave, bright lights on, no curtains, Denny with a push-broom microphone and a captive audience, and he breaks into song. "Jeremiah was a bullfrog! Was a good friend of mine....." The front door in my section opens. "Squashed him on a sidewalk on a Saturday night, I was so drunk that I was blind.....". An attractive, professional looking woman is standing in the entryway, a quizzical look on her face as I turn down the radio.....and ask, wiping the tears from my face "Can I help you?" Denny, hearing the volume turn down, and with the class-clown instinct that his audience had unexpectedly grown, couldn't help himself - he entered my section.
I wish to hell I could remember what he found to say to that smartly dressed lady - she clearly had been prepared to come in for a post-shift ice cream and head home, not blunder into two giggling idiots who couldn't pass Customer Service 101. We actually were able to take her order and wish her a good night, followed immediately by slamming the locks shut and collapsing with laughter. I haven't heard that song since, without hearing my brothers voice, and lyrics, right along with it.
I think tomorrow I'll post the time we got lost.....going to a birthday party for our adorable cousin Jake.
Have a day filled with laughter, everyone. Yesterday, my plan went way off the rails at about 5 pm, but hey, tomorrow is another day...... ;-) Sing something today, and sing it very, very loudly.