My brother called me.
Some gift, dude.
There's a Thursday Thirteen in here somewhere about all the nutty things he said to me, but I'll break it down to the most bizarre. (He's 45, in an ongoing divorce which he cannot get finalized--three years now?, and is the father of 15 and 10 year old boys. And a total screw-up.)
In general, he and I talk when my mother puts him on the phone and makes him talk to me. He still believes that I stole money from him when I refused to sign a legal document which would have given him the rights to a Cape Cod house and the rights to a significant portion of *my part* of my grandmother's estate in return for, um, nothing. I asked my Dad at the time, "Why would I sign this? I get nothing out of it." To which he replied, "Uh. Yeah. You're right. If I were in your place, I wouldn't sign it either." OK, then. (Note: my parents had been bugging me to sign the thing for weeks prior to this.)
My brother figured he deserved more money out of my grandmother's estate than I did, and that I would be willing to sign my portion of the inheritance over to him. When I refused, my brother called me a thief and a "fucking whore". He would call me to yell at me, I would tell him to stop yelling at me, and then I would tell him I was ending the call by hanging up the phone. As soon as I did, the phone would ring again. "I'm NOT DONE!" he would yell. "OK, but I am," I would reply, and then hang up. After a while he stopped calling, and I really stopped caring about what he was up to.
So, a few years ago he started divorcing his wife. Of course, he had done nothing wrong in the relationship--everything was her fault because she simply refused to change to please him. And he started calling me to tell me all about his new-found dedication to self-improvement. (Which involves teaching lots of spin classes in exchange for a free gym membership. He still doesn't have a *job*.)
Sigh. I can hardly wait for these calls.
He starts off yesterday by saying that he's calling me because his girlfriend keeps asking him when he last spoke to his sister. Good to talk to you too, bub. Then he starts in trying to diagnose my son, because, after all, his girlfriend works with Special Ed kids all day long. I love how THIS conversation is going.
My brother's new discovery in relationships: people fight about the little stuff. He realizes now that his twenty year refusal to clean the house or pick up after himself probably contributed to his wife being always angry at him. He takes responsibility for that. (But only that.) So his new technique is to focus on the small stuff. This way, there will be nothing to fight about, so there won't be any reason to ever fight about the big stuff. (Oy. I can only see about a million holes in THIS arrangement.)
If he just stays romantic, and they participate in "practice fighting" so that they can polish their relationship techniques, then there will never be a problem. (Oh, good lord. He actually believes this crap.)
Then he goes on to tell me a horrible story about his kids. He came home from work (?) to find only one child at home, the ten year old. He finds out that the older kid has gone to his mother's house so that she can take him to the High School bus on time in the morning, and that she'll be picking up the younger one to drive him to Elementary School. He calls his older son and tells him that he has to come back, and he has to come back right now. He tells me that at this point his son starts crying. (My brother can REALLY yell when he gets going--he spits and rants and gets fairly scary when he's trying to convince you of something. I can't imagine what this is like for his son.) He tells me that he sees now that he probably handles this wrong by talking to the son; after all it was all a ploy by his soon-to-be-ex-wife to discredit him.
"OK. I don't get it. WHY does the older one need to be there?"
"Because I teach spin class at six in the morning. The younger one can't be here by himself. The older one knows that. He needs to get his brother to school."
Oh good grief. The kid's 15, depressed, has enough reading disabilities and medications already. Now it's his responsibility to get his little brother to SCHOOL? No wonder he was crying. And Maybe, just Maybe, Dear Brother, you could, I dunno, get the kids to school yourself? Nah. You've got that unpaid spin class you need to go to to get your "endorphin fix for the morning."
Then he goes on to tell me that the relationship stuff is "just key."
"To relationships." Deep, man. Deep.
"Yeah," I counter. "But all that romantic stuff, the focusing on the details, and everything. It only works while you're in the dating phase. At some point you fall out of love, and you have to make a commitment to making this thing work. It can't all be about the rush you feel."
"I Never fall out of love." Aren't you the one getting a divorce?
"Oh, come on. You're still trying to impress. Right? I know all about that, but at some point, you can't keep it up anymore, and then you have to work on it."
"It's not about impressing the other person."
"Yes it is. 'Oh honey, let me open the door for you.' 'Let me pay for that.' That's dating. As soon as you use the bathroom with the door open, you're not dating anymore. I don't feel a rush of excitement anymore when I see Dear Butcher walk across the room. I'm sorry, but I don't. There's no emotional rush to that. At some point that goes away, and you have to just decide that you're going to work on stuff together."
Ugh. We went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on this one. He's all about the joy he feels when he focuses on the details, and I'm trying to say that you can't build a relationship on the the emotional payback you may or may not get when you're nice. He finally agreed with me, but only after saying that this was HIS point all along. Oy.
And then there's the Bon Mot of the entire conversation. The phrase which make me drop my jaw and swoop across the floor like Groucho Marx so that I could find a pencil to write it down for Dear Butcher.
"You know. With all this focus I'm doing on my relationship, you know, on the details, I have to say. I've become a Killer Lover. My wife doesn't know what she's missing out on."
Good god. He's forty-fucking-five years old dating a thirty year old.
Ew. I so do not need to know this about my brother. Ew. Ew. Ew.
And he has to bring his soon-to-be-ex-wife into this? Good thing he's moving on.
After I got off the phone, Dear Butcher and I were giggling about this. Killer Lover? Killer? or is it Killa? Like in K-Luv's in da HOUSE, homies! Yeah, man. Look out Ho's. Look OUT bitches!
Or as Dear Butcher so succinctly put it: "God help us. He discovered the clitoris."
And the one thing I'm annoyed that I forgot to say to him: With all of this focus on relationship skills, how are you applying them to your relationship with your mother, your relationship with your sons, or even your relationship with me? I know we don't focus on the big stuff anymore, but I'm still waiting on an apology for being called a thief. Oh, and for the fact that you never bothered to call and congratulate me on the births of my two younger children. Oh, and that you've never sent them even a birthday card, let alone a birthday gift or a Christmas present. Oh, and that you never bothered to congratulate me on winning a public election, or that you have never, at any time, asked me about my work in politics.
But that's all big stuff, I know. And we don't worry about the big stuff anymore.