Sunday, December 27, 2009

for a quarter of a century

the first time i saw the royal tenenbaums, i was largely confused. the humor was so dry and subtle and offbeat that i wasn't sure what to even laugh at. when dudley walked out and looked at the gypsy taxi and profoundly declared, "that taxi cab has a dent in it," suddenly the humor clicked with me and i laughed hard. over time, it's become one of my favorite and funniest movies.

i forget what it was like for me when i first saw it, and when i introduce my friends to a wes anderson film, i need to remember that it takes some getting used to. once you understand the style and what's supposed to be funny, it can be pretty awesome. but it takes some getting used to to understand the world.

a few weeks ago, my brother and i were out driving around town. we were talking back and forth in our usual manner, tossing about comments and thoughts in keaton-esque deadpan tones. i looked over at tim and i saw the slightest bit of a smile break before he returned his comment, and that's when i understood our relationship a little better.

we appreciate wit. and often, for whatever reason, we admire the ability to volley comments and musings subtly. often it can be like watching a christopher guest film where it seems completely straight, but if you understand that there's humor and bemusement laced throughout it all, it can be a lot of fun. i'm not sure how the game got started, but that's a lot of how my brother and i get along.

there are times when we're more extrovert. when i came home for Christmas a few years ago and met him while working at barnes and noble, he strode over gave me a great big hug. when we were bowling for his birthday last year and our choices of boston and r.e.m. were loud on the jukebox, we were having a blast all around. and there are countless times where we laugh ourselves silly over a tv show or video game (even a few days ago on Christmas eve). and that's a lot of fun. but we both apprecaite the serious awesomeness of knowing you're both in on something without ever having to say it. that we can both toss around observations and opinions that are laced with irony and humor felt only to us and our closest friends.

it's this subsurface understanding that flows even under our frustrations and disagreements. because of it, actually, that we trust each other enough to get mad at one another at times. underneath it all, we're still friends, still brothers, still the same two kids who would bike down to the video store together in the summer time with the $2.12 stuff in our socks. we can disagree, argue, and annoy each other thanks to that safety net down below. and on those times that one of us has fallen, we've caught each other.

tim is the most enigmatic of us siblings, a trait which saddens me but which he protects. he loves being well-versed and well-read on all subjects he finds interesting. he eschews any sort of posed photography, prefering the charm of a spontaneous snapshot of the moment. he respects the stories and plot of a well-designed video game the same way i do with a good film. he does not care in the least for social facades and pleasantries, valuing instead openess and honesty. like a cat, the best way to persuade him is not by pulling and prying, but with a little nudge then letting him do what he wants. and in the world of hogwarts, he'd be in ravenclaw.

happy birthday, t. i love you more than either of us would ever admit.


Em said...

Ah, I only wish I had such a sibling. Or such a relationship with one. Here's hoping my children fare better than I.

kwistin said...

this is one of my favorite posts of yours.

without being overly personal or completely vague, you gave the rest of us an insight to the chemistry that makes up the unique jeff-tim duo. and for those of us that know you both personally [like me]...well, i really quite enjoyed the analysis. i guess i've always been passively curious to hear your take on this particular brotherly relationship.

what a fitting birthday tribute for your brother. and what a fine family you all are!

ps, i really like becky's bag. refer to my last week's post. ;)

Rebecca said...

fascinating . . . and extremely well written. sometimes i think you're lying and you actually majored in everything in college: film, english, photography, psychology, philosophy etc., etc.

p.s. love your blog

The Former 786 said...

That was a very nice tribute, Jeff. I think it's an accurate and insightful take on relationships between brothers.