Today is my little brother’s birthday. Jeff is 35. Woohoo!
Here’s what I need for you to know about Jeff:
Jeff pooped his pants a lot when he was younger.
Like, Jeff pooped his pants ’til he was 17. Or maybe just ’til he was 6. It’s hard to say for sure; time was all wonky when I was a kid.
My mom told me not to make fun of my brother for pooping his pants. She also told me to be nice to him and to share my stuff with him and to include him in games with my friends, so she was pretty much irrational all the way around.
My mom said Jeff’s pants pooping problem was caused by food allergies which made his poops impacted or loose or loosely impacted so it just fell out of his po-po and that it wasn’t his fault.
(It’s important to note here that “po-po” is what we called butts in my house growing up because only people with poor manners said the word butt.)
(Also, I still have an almost irresistible urge to apologize to my mother and to Jesus when I say butt even though I’m a grown-up.)
(Sorry, Mom and Jesus.)
When my brother was young and had that poop-popping-out-of-the-po-po problem, my mom fed him buckets of Metamucil and giant vitamins from a plastic, seven-day vitamin dispenser, and she said I should have compassion for Jeff. I thought Jeff should stop pooping his pants all the time. We lived with that impasse for years.
In addition to the poop, there was the pee. (Isn’t that always the way?)
From 1977 until Forever, Jeff had a queen-sized dark green blankie made out of slippery nylon fabric. All of its cotton batting came loose in 1977-½ and gathered in one spectacular, fused lump in the corner, so the blanket was just two pieces of slick nylon with a nice, hard sphere which was especially good for whacking irritating big sisters. Jeff’s blankie smelled of rancid urine. I know the smell existed ’round-the-clock because I regularly snuck into his room after bedtime to ask him to forgive me for being so rotten to him all the time. I knelt by his bed night after night, smelling the pee as penance while I told Sleeping Jeff that I was sorry.
It was a complicated relationship.
There was poo. There was pee. There was crying. And there was fighting.
Oh my word, the FIGHTING.
Jeff and I bickered all growing up. All. Growing. Up.
In other words, Jeff and I never didn’t bicker.
The other mommies and daddies in our friend group used us as the penultimate example of How Not To Behave. When the other kids got bickery, their folks whispered in their ears that they were acting like Beth and Jeff. “You’re acting just like Beth and Jeff!” they said. And the kids’ eyes went round with horror and they shaped right up.
When my dad speaks of Jeff’s and my childhood, he uses the word despair.
My mom told Jeff and me that someday we’d be best friends. “Someday,” she said, “you’ll be best friends.” It was like Chinese water torture. I think she said it half to brainwash us into believing it was true and half because my mom is an unreasonable optimist when it comes to her children.
In conclusion, never underestimate a mom with mad brainwashing skillz and unreasonable optimism.
Happy Birthday, Jeff!
I love you love you love you.
on not pooping your pants or smelling like rancid urine anymore.
P.S. Jeff and I continue to speak Mockery as our primary Love Language. Jeff’s gorgeous and kind wife, Kim, has only a sister and no brothers and despairs of ever understanding this brother/sister dynamic. Jeff and Kim are raising a girl and two boys. If you can help assuage Kim’s bro/sis confusion with your own sibling stories, do share.
P.P.S. This chat just happened:
Jeff: What’s up?
Me: It’s June 25th. Today’s the day Michael Jackson died.
Jeff: I know.
Me: IT’S ALREADY BEEN 3 YEARS!
Jeff: We should have a moment of silence for MJ.
Me: His musical legacy is really important.
Jeff: Seems like just yesterday.
Me: I had posters. And Billy Jean Is Not My Lover is SO TRUE.
Jeff: Not black, not white? A message for this, and really, every generation.
Me: Also, it’s your birthday.
Me: So I’ve written some reminiscences of our childhood. The blog post starts, “Jeff pooped his pants a lot when he was younger.” K? K. Glad we had this talk. Love you. Bye.
Jeff: WAIT! It’s also the birthday of Ricky Gervais.
Me: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ricky!
Jeff: Love you, too.
And that is what I’m talkin’ about, folks.