Joe often got under my skin in the worst way when we were growing up. There were tender moments between us, for sure, but I’d only need the fingers on one hand to count those. One vivid memory from childhood that still lives on to this day is when I stole my brother’s beloved pocket comb. He carried it around in the back pocket of his navy blue Wrangler® corduroys that he wore each day as a uniformed Catholic school boy.
Something about Joe made me loathe his being. Not always, of course. He was a pretty cool older brother, but I had many episodes of younger-brother envy– yearning to be a part of his “cool” world. Maybe it was his macho ways or his high aptitude for doing all the outside chores on our little five acre farm. Whatever it was, and however easy it is to analyze the reasoning now, I was bloody pissed at him on the day I stole his pocket comb, shoved it into the front pocket of my blue Wrangler® corduroys, and lied up and down to our mother that I didn’t know of it’s whereabouts.
For a moment, Joe wasn’t the cool one. I was. I was the rebel. The naughty boy with a stray cowlick insisting over and over again to our mom that I didn’t have any idea where the damn comb was (as I comfortably cradled it in my hand deep in the pocket of those corduroys–which I despised, by the way).
After a long, drawn out, back and forth, brother vs. brother argument that led us from room to room in the house, I fessed up to my crime and pulled out the black pocket comb and slapped it on the kitchen counter. This sent my mother over the edge. To the point she told me, her youngest, her pride and joy (?), to not speak to her for awhile as she went to her room for some rest. I’ll never forget learning, in that instant, what it means to feel someone’s disappointment in me. I could have cared less about Joe’s disappointment, but my mother’s…it lives on to this day as I can still conjure up the image of her headed to the bedroom, exhausted, and needing space from the fight I had just put her in the ring to referee.
God bless my mom. And the 80s fashion world.