Usually in your life, you only have one person that you call mom. Same thing goes for dad. You may have many maternal/paternal figures in your life, but usually the term “mom” or “dad” is reserved for someone special. However “brother” and “sister” are another story.
I am lucky enough to have two tremendous brothers. While I have not delved very deeply into this relationship (besides this excellent post!), I am pretty sure this is something that will be further explored over the course of this blog. They are my best friends in the world and the days when the three of us lived under one roof are some of the best days of my life. While time and adult responsibilities (like jobs) have set up roadblocks, on occasion we get a chance to briefly recreate those days. (I like to throw in our dad as being like a half-brother for good measure!)
However, this post is actually about a different kind of “brother”. In life, you occasionally come across individuals who you become so close to, that you are like siblings. This is why there are phrases like fraternity brother, sorority sister, Band of Brothers, blood brother and so forth. Something about your shared experiences makes you more than just friends. You become family.
The other day was the birthday of one of “The Brothers”. This is a group of friends that I was lucky enough to make when I was at Purdue. While we didn’t get hazed together or fight battles together, we definitely came together like brothers. (Although some of the things we have done to each other over the years might be considered cruel and unusual punishment.) We have real names, but mostly we go by the nicknames we made up for each other while crammed into a car, driving through the Rocky Mountains on our way to the desert for some backpacking. I am The Honorable Mayor Tito McCheese (usually shortened to The Mayor or just Mayor. This is because of my past (and who am I kidding, current) penchant for eating vast quantities of McDonalds), then there is The Bringer of Pain (usually referred to as The Bringer. You may remember him as the hero of this story), Earl (Susie always felt like Earl was the hottest of the group) and Gooch Brownstein (however he is usually called by his original nickname of Goody, which is a shortening of his actual last name. He has the added benefit of having a mildly vulgar addition to his nickname which only comes out when we are really in a saucy mood.)
The exact details of how we all became friends is still not clear to me. What I do know is that the lynchpin of the entire process was my freshman roommate. (It was about the only good thing he did for me.) He went to high school with Goody and The Bringer. Somehow, within about 2 days of showing up on campus, they met up and I thankfully got included. I distinctly remember wandering around campus on the Saturday night before classes started with nowhere to go. I remember looking out over campus and thinking that someday, we would be cool enough to go to any of the handful of parties that were raging at that moment. Naturally, that never happened.
But a quick bond was formed. We would eat meals together most every day that year, we played basketball in the Co-Rec together and spent a lot of time watching movies and playing video games together. Eventually The Bringer befriended Earl in one of his Biology classes and he was quickly brought into the fold. The Brotherhood was complete.
Since those early days a great many adventures have happened. Goody took his first plane flight and every state we entered on our first trip to San Diego (at the time, the home of The Bringer of Pain) was the furthest west he had ever been. (We had a “New State” handshake and everything, as well as a journal which documented every moment.) (Did I mention how cool we are?) He even gathered up dirt from each new state in small film cases. (Remember those?) Long time girlfriends from back home were broken up with. Future wives were met. (The Brothers were there when Susie and I came up with the idea for our first date, skydiving. They kept teasing us and made sure that we had “six feet of separation” when we were dancing at the best Purdue bar that now doesn’t exist, The Boiler Room.) New games were invented. (Anyone up for some Peep Baseball or Peep Home Run Derby?) We were together for The Bringer of Pain’s 21st birthday, which was the first time he drank. We celebrated in style at a rundown bowling alley in Lafayette. It was by far the best 21st birthday celebration I have ever been a part of. The National Enquirer and Snuffy Smith were dramatically read out loud to make dull moments more lively. The entire contents of someone’s room may have been packed up into that Brother’s closet. I could go on and on and on. Wave after wave of memory and story keep flooding back.
After a year of living in he dorms, Goody and The Bringer of Pain got an apartment together. So the Brothers had a new home base. Unfortunately, I missed out on some of the hilarity as I lived in the fraternity house and when you aren’t there, you miss out on some of the spontaneous hijinks that The Bringer of Pain would instigate. Eventually, Earl moved in with them in a different apartment. It was like our own fraternity house, complete with a sister sorority house that we would torment. (The girls that lived across the hall from The Bringer and Goody’s original apartment.)
Eventually, we graduated and went our separate ways. But just like with my siblings, time and space could not break these bonds either. We would find time to set aside for a Brother’s Weekend. We would invade one of the Brother’s houses and take it over for the entire weekend and it would be just like old times. Unfortunately, they have lately not been as frequent as before and I even baled on the most recent gathering. (Pre-term labor and bed rest are not something to be trifled with.)
But, the stories live on. I am sure that a few more will come out in this blog, eventually. As well as the hope of meeting up again to relive old times. Who knows, we might even at some point finally have all four of us united on a cross-country trip. Even though there have been at least 5 trips taken by The Brothers, not once have we managed to have all four brothers present for a trip. Last year was finally going to be the year, but even that ended up incomplete. Maybe it’s like in Ghostbusters, when you aren’t supposed to cross the streams. Maybe having all of us together for a journey like that would be too much for anyone to handle.