I played high school football with a couple of buddies that happened to be brothers. No, I’m not going to bore our readers with any of my stories of football glory, or reminisce about how much better my memory remembers our successes and triumphs than historical stats do. I only mention football because, on or off the field, these two brothers were competitive.
The boys were born forty-three weeks apart in the same year, so one was slightly older than the other but, because of when they were born, they were in the same grade. Both brothers played defense. One as a lineman and one as a defensive back. Their competitiveness with trying to get more quarterback sacks, stripped ball fumbles, tackles, and even the odd interception, made the defensive coordinator look like a genius. All he had to do was pull one brother aside and say, “Wow… your brother sure was quick on that last play, eh? Dropped the running back for a loss.” Inevitably, that’s all the motivation it took to make the other brother make an unbelievable play on the next set of downs. The coach would then call over the other brother and say, “That was unbelievable! I can’t believe your brother read that pass for the interception!” This, of course, would keep both brothers motivated as the coaches played one brother against the other. The two brothers made it almost impossible for the other team to ever score.
Their competitiveness continued off the field. Both were straight ‘A’ students. If one brother received a slightly higher mark on an exam, he would take great pleasure in reminding his sibling that he was smarter than the other. Of course, that ribbing could only last till the next test when the roles would be reversed.
There were only two things I can remember that they didn’t compete on. The first one was cars. When it came to cars, the older of the two liked muscle cars. I can still see him in my mind, behind the wheel of that jacked up Dodge Challenger. You could hear that thing coming from two blocks away. I don’t even want to guess what he spent on tires, as he was forever seeing how long of a burnout he could do in the school parking lot. The younger brother seemed to be more of a luxury sport car kind of guy. He had a XR7 Cougar convertible and drove it like it was his most prized possession.
The second thing they never competed on was girls. Their parents felt that the brothers shouldn’t have girlfriends until they finished school, as they had high hopes of the boys getting scholarships and thought girls might be a distraction from both academic and athletic excellence. That never seemed to bother the older brother but, you know how love works, folks. About half way through grade ten, the younger of the two was head-over-heels sweet on a pretty young gal. You would see them holding hands as they walked through the school halls and I don’t recall a football practice or game that she wasn’t in the stands. Somehow, he kept this little romance a secret from his folks.
Of course, parents always find things out (remember that kids!), and near the end of our grade eleven year, the young gal’s mom had met the young lad’s mom and the secret was no longer a secret. I still remember the shocked look on his face when we walked into his mom’s kitchen and she asked him, in an icy, I-just-dare-you-to-deny-it kind of voice, when he was going to invite his girlfriend over for dinner. The dinner was set for that Saturday, and he invited me as well because he felt his mom would be a lot more courteous if I was there as a buffer.
His girlfriend looked amazing. She had obviously dressed to impress and despite our concern of how his mom might receive her, all was polite. Tension was just subsiding to a comfortable level when in walks the older brother. He, too, had brought a dinner guest. But his date was dressed in a very short skirt and was wearing enough make-up to supply an entire circus. The whole time she’s being introduced, she’s chewing and snapping her gum. You could feel the tension in the room immediately raise to ‘RED ALERT’.
After dinner, we kids went out into the backyard while the mom cleaned up. As I came into the backyard, I was thinking it was a little over-the-top for the older sibling to bring a girlfriend just to one-up his brother. When I got to them though, they were laughing. Turns out that the young lady that the older brother brought to dinner wasn’t actually his girlfriend. It was just a friend he had talked into coming so as to make his younger brother’s girlfriend look like an angel.
Four years later, the younger brother married his high school sweetheart. His best man was none other than his big brother. Of course, he was forced to earn that best man title on the dance floor at the reception when the two brothers had a very competitive dance-off.