My brother is two years younger than me and we inhabited different worlds for most of our growing up. I was books, he was sports. I was rules he was push. I was lonely, he was surrounded. I was nerdy, he was popular. I was struggle, he was ease. By the time we had both settled into attending the same high school (he a sophomore, I a senior) we had our routines down and our orbits really only crossed at the dinner table and on vacations as well as a random day now and then when we did something together.
Except for a few standouts, most of his friends have melded into one friend amalgam. They were of the same time, the kind of hippy, kind of athletic popular kids, who did much more socially than I ever did in high school. Our age difference seemed vast at that time, and I always felt a combination of bemused at their childish/grownup antics and kind of inferior to their social status. I mostly left them alone, though we weren’t unfriendly to each other.
Some of them sought me out, for whatever reason. I found a journal entry that described a party my brother hosted while my parents were out of town (the exact kind of party, in fact, that kept my parents from leaving town for nearly all of my high school experience) where two of his friends found me in my room and chatted me up. I even printed out and saved what they wrote when they were messing around on my word processor. They cracked me up, even twenty years later.
I have a clear memory of one friend–name lost to time–encountering me on the stairs as I was leaving for work. He gripped the Soul Asylum album Grave Dancer’s Union in his hand and was giddy with delight over something. “Look!” he said to me, pointing to the CD cover.
“Butt.” he indicated the naked girl on the right.
“Butt” he indicated the naked girl on the left.
“No butt.” all that was left was the girl in the middle.
I smiled and nodded and continued on my way, confused as always by my brother’s friends. And I think of that encounter every time I think of this song.