You might not know this, but I have an older brother. And when I say older, I’m talking much, much older (I will pay for this). So much older that he calls me “The Kid” and I refer to him by his nickname, Dag.
This weekend, I helped Dag celebrate his 50th birthday.
My brother is also much, much taller than I am. At six feet, four inches, he casts a rather large shadow with gigantic footprints I gingerly attempted to follow throughout my childhood and adolescence.
From an early age I knew two things: he didn’t need or want a sibling to entertain him, and this boy was not like the others. He was complex, a real thinker. He was smart in all the ways I was not, but not just scholastic smart; he was clever, quick witted and as sarcastic as the day is long. He retained everything, could draw anything, had an ear for music and a creative confidence I could not fathom.
His awkward early years stretched him out into an extremely popular teenager with a long list of girls vying for his affection (which totally grossed me out), and the ability to be the centre of the social universe with his pals. If there was a party he was at it or hosting it (to the horror of my parents, who always came home early). He was garage band before it was a video game.
In some ways, our five-year age difference (five very long years, I might add), gave Dag and I different childhoods. I was always far behind him, and always aware I couldn’t catch up.
When I didn’t loathe him (a sibling right of passage), I was in awe of him. He had honour roll grades and freakish talent in all the arts. I wasn’t that lucky and I knew it. I wanted to be like him and I tried as best as I could.
Dag taught me some valuable life lessons in my vulnerable years and I am grateful. He told me not to smoke, because it was stupid and gross. Check. Don’t do drugs; same as above. Check. The Beatles were more than just a band. Agreed. Monty Python skits should be memorized and repeated often. Noted. Don’t be a lemming; think for yourself. I struggle with that one still. And no matter what you look like, never be afraid to dance with reckless abandon. Nailed that one.
Sometimes, Dag let me go to parties, or tag along to rock concerts. I was the envy of my peers. I was cool by osmosis. I thought he was the coolest person. And he was. At 50, he still is.
We have gone down very different paths, Dag and I, because we are very different people. We’ve had our disagreements. We’ve both made our share of mistakes. We will never see eye to eye, as I am too short and he is too old to bend (had to get that one in).
What I know is this: sibling rivalry doesn’t end when you leave home; it ends when you decide it ends. Maybe we’ve grown up after all.
Dag and I are siblings by birth, friends by choice. And anyways, Mom likes me best (yep, I went there).
Happy birthday big brother, from The Kid.
Writing has been my passion since I learned how to hold a pencil (which I still cannot do properly). Despite my father’s insistence that I would starve to death in this career, I remain well fed and eager to write more. They say you should do what you love: I love to write.