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My (Not So) Little Brother John
JohnnTam.jpg

You ask anyone who knows him, and they'll have a story about my brother.

There's the one where he Sawzall-ed himself out of a skylight hole, Wile E. Coyote-style.

There's another where he nailed his hand to a board with a nail gun.

There are tons where, at great personal risk or loss, he helped someone out of a jam.

There are Casanova stories, road trip stories, soccer stories, family sagas.

But my personal favorite is a simple story. It was told to me by my brother's college roommate and longtime friend, Jason Golz. At the time, they were 21 and in college:

One fine Saturday morning, Jason's reading the morning paper and unbeknownst to John, is watching from across the room. John heads to Jason's new red velvet sofa carrying his plate piled high with a freshly-toasted bagel, a knife, a tub of cream cheese, a jar of blackberry jam and, surprisingly, a paper towel.SisandBro.jpg

John is still unaware of Jason. He places his brekkers onto the coffee table, skootches his ass into the velvety cushions, carefully unfolds the paper towel onto his lap and begins to eat. Jason is impressed - John is obviously taking good care of the new sofa. What a great roommate!

John then picks up the cream cheese tub and spreads a thick white layer onto the toasted bagel. Crumbs fall perfectly into the napkin in his lap. Holding the cream cheese-covered knife in one hand, he picks up the pristine jar of blackberry jam with the other. He looks from the dirty knife to the jam. He looks to the knife. He looks to the jam. There is a long pause. And before Jason can finish yelling, "NOOOO!", John scrapes the offending cream cheese from both sides of the knife - directly onto Jason's shiny sofa cushions.

These days, John's 36 and a family man. He's got a new baby, Livia, and a rambunctious 3-year-old, Kaio.

Now he's the one yelling "NOOOO!" and trying to protect his sofa. John came down from Santa Barbara for the holidays this week, family in tow. He has a new game that he and the baby love where he holds her feet and balances her. She goes stiff, stands rigid and giggles madly. She just goes nuts, and it is hilarious to watch.

BabyBalancing.jpgEverytime they do it, The Varmint hyperventilates. "There will be no baby juggling in our house," he warns, in his best Captain Safety voice.

I love having John here. I hate it when he goes home to Santa Barbara. Last night he came over. The Varmint, John and I talked for hours. We got excited, blabbing about architecture, shouting out ideas for making our houses more livable. We watched My Name Is Earl and laughed. We had beer.

It was all simple stuff. But by virtue of geography and circumstance, it becomes something different. I wish we had more of it.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >