Trouble – Honoring Brian’s 50th

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

This is the countdown to March 17, and a happy 50th to my brother, Brian, the best brother anyone could ever want in the whole world.

It’s confession time. When I consider that at 50 (getting ready to be 51) the statute of limitations on anything I might have done has well expired, I can probably talk about it by now.

Those of you who have known us since we were youngsters know this.  If you couldn’t tell the two of us apart, there is one very telling characteristic: I am much faster than Brian. While most people might associate that with athletic prowess or bragging rights or something silly like that, the place where it always really added up was getting away from trouble.

If we were running from cops, or people whose car we just pelted with snowballs, or because we just soaped up the windows on someone’s car and their porch light came on- I was not the one who got caught. It always reminds me of the story of how to survive an alligator attack: Just be faster than the person next to you.

However, the other trait that endeared Brian Patrick to everyone was also his undoing. He was such a nice guy and averse to being “bad” that HIS decisions would get ME caught. Once when skipping school, I made my way off to doing whatever it was in those days when we skipped school. Brian- he was so nervous about it that he hid behind his bed.  When Dad came home, he found the dog scratching and barking at Brian’s bed.  Dad rolled the bed from the wall, and there was Brian.  Needless to say, Dad gave him an earful, loaded him in the car, and took him to school.

While at school, Brian was getting it, but at least he never rolled over on us (yes, there were others).  However, finishing and preparing to leave, Dad asked, “Well, while I’m here, how’s Michael?”  When he found out that I too was absent that day, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But at least I got to enjoy the day.

While Brian went to North Penn for high school and I was attending Upper Merion, we still found ways to link up and get in trouble. We always used to laugh that giving Ollie’s Pancake House a liquor license was like giving a child a gun permit. Ollie’s was conveniently located between and equidistant to our homes and on Germantown Pike, meaning it was a quick ride down into Philly for a trip to Pat’s and the Philadelphia Zoo.

One day we decided to skip and head to the Zoo, after finding out it was Willie the Gorilla’s birthday.  For all the times we skipped and went to the Zoo, we couldn’t NOT join Willie for his birthday.  This time, however, all of us got caught: Mrs. Welsh caught the glimpse of us all dancing like maniacs on Action News.

On nice days, it was usually a trip to Valley Forge, where we could take off our shoes and run around in the grass, playing Frisbee or with a hacky-sack and drinking Slow Green Death. There’s a certain amount of experience we had in those days that would not be tolerated as “boys being boys” these days. While we were not the best of students or athletes or even law-abiding citizens, we had some great friends and we were fortunate to be able to really “do things”.  We didn’t sit around playing video games, or hanging out; we were always looking for something fun to do, and we always found it- even if we shouldn’t have.

Tune in tomorrow.  This is the countdown to March 17, and a happy 50th to my brother, Brian, the best brother anyone could ever want in the whole world.

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