My baby brother celebrated his birthday last Saturday. On May 18. Apart from DJ Adrian and the (late) Pope John Paul II, he shares the date with five other of my pals. Even the lead character, Sandy Patterson, from the movie ‘Identity Thief’ celebrates his birthday on the same date. I don’t know, there is something mystic and odd about the date. Something unsettling and unreal that I am yet to put my finger on. I may be wrong. Or maybe I am not, who knows?
At twenty-six and three years my junior, I still call him my baby brother even though he just may long have outgrown the title. The goatee is bushed-up, the locks are browned and his maturity precedes him.
He is still going through his checked-shirt phase though. Before that, he went through a Ted Mosby phase for over a year. You know, the ragged jeans and chucks and loafers; long-sleeved shirts with the sleeves rolled up or cuffs left unbuttoned, those sweaters. We sat patiently and waited for it to run its course. It didn’t. It was replaced by this checked-shirt phase which, I suspect, is here to stay. He added a new twist to it by buttoning them all the way up to the top. I warned him those models at GQ and Esquire who thought it looked prim never actually do this at home. He chuckled then told me I am a shao.
On most days, he likes to ask me what he should wear; one of those what-goes-best-with-this questions that are more rhetoric than he realizes. And on most days, I am torn between picking the shirt with the blue and green checks, the one with green and yellow checks, or the one with yellow and blue checks. When I tell him I can’t chose, he says to wait ‘Let me get you another one so you can see’. Peachy, just peachy. He comes back holding a fourth shirt with red checks that alternate with blue and green ones. I fidget, on most days. I bite on my fingernails, nervous, and then rub the beads of sweat that have started to form on my forehead. And I tell him I can’t chose because they all look the blahdy same to me. He clicks twice. Then he bundles them all up before going ahead to pick another checked shirt all together: the one with the three shades of blue.
When they are piled up in a heap, someone would mistake the shirts for Legos in a toddler’s playroom. I don’t know now whether or not to worry; but I know I shall the day he wears them without any sleeves. We shall have an intervention then, Ted Mosby style.
At twenty-six he never keeps time. He is still impatient. He still takes a nap between his dinner and bedtime, a rest, he likes to call it. He still gets disgusted with thoughtless misconduct. He still holds the largest collection of self-help e-books I have ever come across (Eckhart Tolle much?). He still walks funny, like he’s charging to attack you.
But at twenty-six, he takes care for us girls in his own faceless and expressive-less ‘diBinghi’ way. And somewhere between the non-ending journey of self-discovery and the vegetarian beliefs, he has managed to build a sturdy tower of trust around him. I am even embarrassed about all the selfish humor behind the jokes I used to make about his poppy-out ears and round head.
He grew up. Our baby brother grew up.
Happy birthday baby, sorry uhm, Big brother; may the Sun continue to shine in your new year. I thought that this year, we would sit in quiet celebration. Each one to make their birthday wish in his own little corner. What we did last year, and in the four years before – sitting around a table overflowing with tray upon tray of biscuits, crisps, peanuts and popcorn. Soda, the booze. A cake, dangerous because of all its lit candles. Party hats and party string. Balloons – is a tad outdated for 2013. It reminds me of those estate birthday bashes we used to hold back when we were growing up. You are turning twenty-six kiddo, not six.
Let a prayer from the moms and a pat on the back from the ol’man be all you need to mark celebrations this year. And oh yeah, this mawkish note from me.