Your two boys are all grown up now. Two men spending their time doing manly things. There is a difference though between the family mans’ and the unhitched military mans’ activities. These differences slapped me in the face when my little brother came to visit me this past week. I had an assortment of things planned to occupy our time. We went to the shooting range, we went fishing on the second largest river in the country, we even visited the hardware store. Of course that last one was because my wife also had an assortment of things planned to occupy our time. Her list greatly resembled the list of things around the house I haven’t yet fixed. My brother also wanted us to devote some time to our favorite video games and a strategic ‘World War 2’ board game. He also wanted to get out and visit a bar, like he said ‘He’s’ still single. I had four days to make all these things happen.
We went to the shooting range first. He had just gotten a new pistol and he wanted me to shoot it. I set him up with my favorite exercise. Three shots from three yards, three from seven, three from fifteen, and a final shot from twenty five yards out. It’s a great exercise for scoring targets and improving your ability. We both went through it once with our .40 caliber pistols. I walked towards the targets to see how we did. I hit seven out of ten. That’s not bad, that means I missed two at fifteen yards and the one at twenty five. Oh well, it was just the first set. I looked at my brothers target. There was only one hole in it. That means he missed twice at three yards. Ouch. I figured pistol marksmanship must not be too important in the Navy. He must have known what the results would be because he shuffled towards me with a sheepish grin on his face.
‘I think there is something wrong with the sights’ he said. I looked at him a little sideways, a different kind of grin on my face.
‘Let me see that thing’ I half laughed it and half growled. I feigned disgust as I snatched it out of his hands. I raised his gun and stepped towards a beer can on the ground. Yes, as unsafe as it sounds there are always beer cans on the ground at the gun range. It’s alright to have a drink at the range, just watch out for a man saying, ’Hey you guys watch this!’ If that happens set your beers down and leave. I loaded five rounds into the clip and let them chew on the beer can. When I was done there was just one gigantic hole in the top half of the can. Four out of five of my rounds hit the can in the exact same place. I AM THE MAN. I handed the gun back to my kid brother.
‘Seems to be OK to me.’ The smile on my face couldn’t have gotten any larger. It was a delicious moment and I let the sarcasm drip from my words. My brother is a man though and he took it in stride. I gave him some pointers I inherited from my friends and soon he was hitting the target as often as myself.
We went fishing in my friends boat later that week. My brother learned what ‘jugging’ was. We taught him one of the laziest fishing methods there is. We tied lines to empty two liter bottles. Hooked them, baited them and sent them floating down the river, we floated after them nursing beers and soaking up the quiet. The way jugging works is simple. The line ties around the neck of the liter bottle or ‘jug’ and when you get a bite, the jug stands straight up and down in the water. Then you just motor over to it and pick it up. At one point in our river trip we stopped to bank the boat. A line was tossed to my brother so that he could tie the boat up. He hesitated and asked me how to tie it off.
‘Aren’t you in the Navy?’ I said.
‘Yes, but it isn’t my job to tie off the carrier.’ He made a good point. He was always quick witted and even I laughed out loud at that one. So I showed my Navy war veteran brother how to tie a bowline knot. Despite his witty retort, I thoroughly enjoyed every second of tying and retying that knot.
He whipped me pretty bad those evenings back at home at the video and board games, I have come to realize that I am not as hip to those things as I once was. He drank his beers faster than I did too. The next day I had to go to the hardware store. Things were broken and the Missus wasn‘t having it. The front door wasn’t locking. I had to get a part for it. I already knew how to fix it and what I needed. She wanted me to get a new dead bolt for the door too, but I told her I couldn’t do that until I got a new router and routers are expensive. My wife conceded, and I grabbed my brother and we went to the store. While I was there I looked at some deadbolts and chains and such, but I didn’t see any that I wouldn’t need a router or at least a special bit kit to install. I bought the part I needed and headed home. When we got back my brother told my wife that I almost got her what she wanted but I changed my mind. He thought he was doing me a favor letting her know that what she wanted was on my mind. I saw the frown on her face though. I pulled my brother aside. I had to explain to him that you don’t tell a woman about the gifts you didn’t get her. That just makes her think about it. She’d already forgotten about it. I was in the clear. What a goof ball move. I shook my head, he’s got a lot to learn.
I’ve been picking on my brother a lot in this letter but there is one more thing that happened. Everywhere we went, women behaved weird around my brother. I couldn’t put my finger on it until one day we made five stops and at each store there was a woman behind the counter. They were flirting with him. It’s been so long since I have seen flirting, I actually thought they were being rude or something. They were out of their minds with the need to get his attention. I thought it was amazing. We look alike, we sound alike, why the hell weren’t they flirting with me. The answer came to me in Wal-mart. We were walking down a main aisle when a young lady stepped from between two displays and slammed right into my brother. In keeping himself from falling down his hand landed on her shoulder, or from my angle her right breast. Whatever though, he says shoulder so I’ll say shoulder. Now most men would auto react with an ‘excuse me ma’am’ or ‘I’m sorry’ or just an ‘oops’ and move on. My brothers automatic, instinctual and immediate reaction was to say… ‘How you doin‘?’ WOW! Well that explains it. It’s the ’Kavorka.’ Pure animal magnetism. ’Kramer’ from ’Seinfeld’ , ‘Joey’ from ‘Friends’ and My Brother. Long story short, while we may be different kinds of men, My brother is definitely also THE MAN.
Your hip shooting, lazy fishing, less appealing son.
P.S. My wife read this and decided that from this point forward my
Brother and I cannot go out unless a female chaperone joins us.
Being THE MAN is tough.