Friday, October 19, 2007

The Brothers

As I adjusted to life at the Jersey shore and my old family house, I befriended three rag-tag young brothers from the end of my street. I met them at a block party one summer’s evening and the next day we went surfing together. We would be close from that point on, in varying degrees, but they would all feel like genuine brothers to me.


They’re definitely what you would call “rough around the edges.” Their clothes are often dirty or torn up. They always have scratches and bruises from one thing or another. They’re naturally athletic, always daring one another to jump over this or dive off of that. They fart, curse and their observations border on the ignorant or sublimely ridiculous.


They like explosives, laugh at stupid shit and drive any vehicle fast and well. They’re virile and pretty with lithe, toned bodies. They drink copious amounts of cheap beer. They sleep wherever they fall at the end of the day. They’re boys, barely men, with something distinctly untamed in them.


And I began to experience the feeling of having brothers – real, live, beautiful beasts of brothers, shaking cages and breaking down doors.


The biggest influence they had on me was surfing. I taught myself the basics I lived in California years ago but I was definitely beginner. The brothers took on the task of making me a serious surfer, encouraging me (loudly) to drop in on waves that seemed way too scary and intimidating. Bit by bit, they were creating a risk-taker of me. Is this what real brothers do? I like it!

Once we drove to a local surf spot at the end of the island. They were being particularly boyish, commenting on every (and I do mean every) female we passed by.


At first, I wrote it off. But it became increasingly annoying. Finally, I cracked.


“Listen, can you guys knock it off?! You sound childish and kinda fucking annoying.”


The car went dead silent. I felt relieved, took a deep breath and drank in the silence, which lasted a mere 15 seconds before one brother saw another hottie and the comments started flying again.

After dropping them off like a load of dirty laundry, I reflected on their dismissal of my request. I could have felt unheard, disrespected. But instead, I felt a strange surge of flattery. Only brothers would feel comfortable enough to disregard you so openly, right?


There was a silent vote that took place after my firm request to shut the fuck up:

They could swallow their urge to assert their heterosexuality every 5 seconds


They could continue to be themselves in front of me, as they’d always been, for better or for worse.

Even on the losing end of the vote, it felt like a win. Because they love me…and that solves a lot of problems. 


They have helped shape me into a woman who is wilder and braver. And I love them too. Probably always will.

The youngest one borrowed an oversized sweatshirt of mine years ago. He never returned it. And I let him, even though I really like that sweatshirt. Because it feels good when he wears it. It feels good on me.



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