The Rock

1985….

I was a Senior in High School, living with my dad, step mom, and step sister. I had moved in with dad after my parents divorced. Why? Well, my older brother and I, we just didn’t see eye to eye. I suppose we both had our own way of dealing with divorce, and we ended up fighting all the time. In the end, when my dad moved to a rural area of South Florida, and I realized he had an extra bedroom, I jumped at the chance to have my own room, and a little piece and quiet.

It was a difficult transition for me at school. I knew no one, and the environment was completely different. The fact is that I never really adjusted, and although my grades were always decent, socially I just never fit in. I became a loner at school. I had a couple of acquaintances but no real friends. Today I wish I could go back and re-do that time. Doesn’t everybody once in a while say to themselves “if I only knew then what I know now?”

There is one thing I remember about my senior year, and it had nothing to do with school, but everything to do with my big brother. I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not, but the only thing that matters is that he did it. My brother had already graduated from high school, and I started spending weekends at my mom’s. My brother started inviting me to hang out with him and his friends. I was a little confused at first. This did not happen while he was in school. So my senior year of high school, I actually started to come out of my shell, out of the extreme shyness that was so much a part of my teenage years. I remember that year very fondly, hanging out with a brother I so much wanted to emulate.

1990…

A few years after high school, he and I started to go to a local comedy club. After a few outings, I started to realize that my brother was planning on getting on stage himself. I had no doubt he could do it successfully. He had been in drama during high school, so he was no stranger to the stage. But soon, another thought started to creep into my head. Was it possible for me to do the same? Mind you, I was still quite a timid young man. However, I so much wanted to be like my big brother, not to mention that I was also quite competitive. So I made my decision, spending the next 3 months writing comedy material, with the hopes of taking the plunge during an open mike night.

So then it came, the big night. I had practiced my routine in the mirror. I had written down my comedy bits on an index card. I had even tried some of them out on a select few, including my brother. There we were, at Uncle Funny’s in Miami. I would be the third comic to go on. The place was pretty full. My brother would also go on that night. I was sweating bullets. I was pretty scared. But I was determined to get on that stage.

“Let’s give a big warm welcome to…..”

And there I was…

All alone…

Not really. He was there. My brother was sitting right there, in the middle of the club. So I told my first joke, and all of a sudden, my brother breaks out in the most comforting loud laughter one could hope for. Of course, laughter is contagious, so others laughed with him. Then I told the second joke, and there he was again, laughing louder than anyone else. By the time I finished, the crowd was in stitches, led by guess who, my brother.

He and I would spend the next 3 years or so appearing in comedy clubs throughout South Florida. It was one of the greatest periods of my life, and was a big reason for me overcoming my shyness. I am convinced it would never have happened if my brother had not been there that night, encouraging me with his laughter. I don’t know if he even realized what he was doing that night.

It was not the first, nor the last time my brother would step up to the plate for me. He and I are only 14 months apart in age. Throughout my life, I have always felt the comfort of knowing he was there if I needed him. We have been through quite a bit together, and it hasn’t always been pretty, but as they saying goes “blood is thicker than water.”

2010…

Recently, as the best man at my wedding, he stepped up to the mike. Every time he does that, it reminds me of the days of old, watching my big brother command a stage like few others. He started talking about a rock we played on in the park as kids, and how we would imagine it was a space ship. He went on to say the following to my new wife.

“No matter what problems you go through in life, that man next to you will always be your rock.”

There was not a dry eye in the house, including mine.

Maybe he doesn’t realize it, but it really is the other way around. He has and will always be my rock.

Thanks brother…

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