In previous posts, I’m 99% positive that I’ve mentioned nearly all of my brothers in great detail with the exception of Dapper Dan. I usually assign initials to my siblings so I don’t have to keep spelling out their names repeatedly but since I already used ‘DD’ for ‘Diabolical Debbie’, I guess I’ll have to resort to calling this particular brother ‘Dan’. Dan is the youngest of my five brothers. Of the 9 children, he comes in at number 8. Before he was born, everyone thought he was going to be a girl, but fate had other plans. For a short time, he was the ‘baby’ of the family and got all kinds of attention lavished upon him. Just when he started to get comfortable with his ‘position’ in the family, I showed up and I think it really pissed him off. As far back as I can remember, our relationship has been strained. I am almost certain that when the stork dropped me off, he thought my purpose (as far as he was concerned) was a human punching bag. Having him to contend with for the majority of my childhood certainly made life challenging.
Over the years, I’ve tried several times to get close to my brother Dan. For some inexplicable reason, when we’re just on the cusp, something always seems to happen that pushes us further apart. And, to be fair, he’s not a bad guy. He’s actually a pretty good guy. He’s honest and hard-working, a loyal and dutiful husband to his wife, and a good father to his children (aside from letting them get away with too much). He tries really hard, almost too hard. Everything has to sparkle and shine, and sometimes it comes off as a bit ‘fake’. I just cannot seem to understand him, especially his over-the-top frugality. Actually, calling him ‘frugal’ is an understatement, ‘cheap’ is closer to the truth. I have a nickname for him but I’m not going to share it because it’s actually pretty mean. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s from growing up poor or why he turned out this way, but it’s extreme. He actually makes Scrooge seem generous. You think I’m exaggerating? Ok, I’ll give you a few examples.
Here is one. When his children were really young (around 5 years of age or thereabouts), he contacted all of the family members and asked if anyone would be interested in a photo of his children. Of course, everyone agreed! To say ‘no’ would come off as rude or impolite. After he had their photos taken at a professional photography studio (the same one our family went to after my sister’s funeral), he asked that all of the people that requested a photo ‘contribute’ $10 each. No. I’m not even kidding!! He wanted people to pay him for a photo of his children. Here’s another. When we lived in another state, his wife had a conference in a nearby city. He called beforehand and asked if we didn’t mind if they stayed with us; however, for the first few days, it would just be him. We agreed. They flew out together, and while she was attending the conference, he came and stayed in our home. She joined him about 3 days later. During that time, they indulged themselves. They ate our food and used our shower and slept in our bed (not while we were in it).
No, no, no, I don’t have a problem with that. That’s to be expected when you have houseguests. This is why or where I have a problem. Before his wife arrived, he asked if he could borrow my husband’s motorcycle. “Yes, enjoy!” my husband said enthusiastically. My brother took my husband at his word and he enjoyed that bike alright. He rode it to hell and gone. And at the end of his stay, when he was done ‘enjoying’ it, he returned it to the garage with a gas tank as dry as a parched desert. That’s part one of ‘why or where I have a problem’. Part two has to do with their transport back to the airport. As a family of five with a singular income, we didn’t have a lot of cash flow ourselves. My husband was making around $25,000 a year and when you have five mouths to feed, that doesn’t go very far. Needless to say, there was a shuttle available that could have taken my brother and his wife to the airport. When they brought it up earlier in the week and mentioned how expensive it was, I opened my big mouth and offered to drive them in our beater minivan.
My feelings changed; however, by the time their final day rolled around. We had paid for everything during their visit (even meals out), and they never once offered to chip in. I felt used and abused and ever-so-slightly resentful. When I mentioned that it would be preferable if they just went ahead and took the shuttle, I was tired and it was at least a two-and-a-half hour drive (round trip), they hemmed and hawed. They brought up how it was going to cost them $50 plus a tip and they hadn’t ‘planned’ on that additional expense. I eventually and reluctantly ‘gave in’ because I had made a promise. The thing that really got to me, was that when I dropped them off at the airport, they just climbed out of the minivan and went on their merry way. I thought, at the very least, they would have offered a few bucks for gas money, but it didn’t happen. I guess it was dumb on my part to expect any in the first place. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I really don’t know if he’s clueless or if he’s cheap. Maybe he’s both? He does a lot of stuff that puzzles me. There was an occasion when he and his wife invited my husband and me over for a BBQ. When I asked whether he’d like us to bring anything, he laughed and said, “Oh, no! Just yourselves!” When we arrived, all he had purchased for the event was a val-pak of steaks and a small vegetable tray containing (raw/uncooked) grape tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, celery and ranch dip. I am pretty sure the steaks originated from the ‘clearance section’ in the meat department, as they were no longer red; they were a very distinct shade of gray/brown. And I cannot tell you what kind of steaks they were, maybe top round? I’m not sure, but when he removed them from the grill and served them up, they had the taste and consistency of the heel of a shoe. I haven’t actually sampled the heel of a shoe, but if I had to guess what one tasted like, it probably tastes much like the steaks my brother grilled up that day.
You want another story? Alright, I’ll indulge you. A few years back, when he and his family came to stay at our home for a couple of nights, things went sideways (as usual). Afterward, once they returned to their house, he contacted me via email and said that my dog had given his son lice. Apparently, after his son kept scratching at his itchy head, my brother discovered 2 adult lice nestled among the hair follicles. The first part of my reaction was, “NOT possible.” The only people living in my home were my husband and myself and neither of us had lice. The second part was, “Dogs cannot transfer lice to humans.” Human lice needs human blood and dog lice needs dog blood in order to survive. The third part was, “I’m sure thrilled that he had his son sleep on our brand new couch.” Yep, without asking, he had his son use it as a bed (even though we provided a blow up mattress). At the very least, I am grateful I had purchased a cover for it prior to their arrival. The fourth part was, “That’s the last time I’m going to invite him to stay in our home.”
I didn’t say those things out loud, but I did think them. I was so angry that he made such an accusation. In response to his email, I sent him an article about how the statement he made about my dog giving his kid lice was not actually possible and why. He didn’t respond for a couple of weeks. When he did, he casually mentioned that both his kids had already had lice earlier that year, as recent as two months prior to their visit. A-ha! What sounds the most logical, after he shared that little tidbit, was that the lice he found on his son’s head were some of the last few holdouts he hadn’t managed to kill off earlier. Of course, he didn’t apologize. Usually, when he’s wrong he doesn’t say anything at all. Literally, not a word. And what I find so ironic is that he and his family were the ones that brought lice into our home. You’ve never seen me move so fast to pull a cover off a couch and throw it into a washing machine (with plenty of detergent, hot water, and bleach).
He continually does stuff that makes me scratch my head (and it’s not because of lice). He never pulls out his wallet when invited to a meal. I’m beginning to wonder if he even has a wallet. If you laid several out on a table and asked me to identify his, I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s been years since I’ve seen it. For holiday meals, his family contributes one bag of precooked dinner rolls that probably cost between $2-$4. At the end of the meal, if there are any dinner rolls remaining, they take them as well as the lion’s share of the leftovers. At a white elephant party I put together, he and his family contributed two pairs of cheap children’s socks (likely purchased at the dollar store). I have no clue as to why he brought children’s socks because the party was for adults and no one else had small children. Who did he think had any interest in or would have any use for tiny children’s socks? Par for the course, his family selected the ‘best’ gifts (4-pack of wine, chocolate truffles, etc.).
I don’t think I’m ever going to understand my brother. I love him, to be sure. What troubles me is that his ‘cheapness’ seems to know no bounds and I have little tolerance for people that are always ‘on the take’. You know what I just realized? My brother is a ‘Master Moocher’. He’s just like ‘Freddie Freeloader’ or those two dumb-dumbs at the senior center that show up every day and help themselves to all of the free stuff. Just like them, my brother has no shame! Wow! After all these years, it finally makes sense. Amazing. If you blog long enough, sometimes ‘the answers’ reveal themselves. I didn’t even need a ‘shrink’ to help me come to this conclusion, which might come in handy since I probably won’t be returning to the one I was using (due to the ongoing billing blunders) and I still have a lot of stuff to figure out! Boy, do I ever!! ‘Happy’ March, everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.