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Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Leather jackets, switchblades, bad nicknames. Why, you all are ruffians!"

While at the gas station, REM's song "Stand." came on. I got a little choked up.

I realize this is not a logical response. Allow me to explain.

My brother and I, back in high school, were HUGE fans of Chris Elliot, and his television show Get A Life. Every episode opened with Chris Elliot's forty-something man-child delivering papers on his bicycle to the theme song "Stand."

It takes a special mind to enjoy Chris Elliot. The comedy is on the stupid side, and by stupid, I mean this.

Yet, we ate it up with a spoon. We claimed to enjoy it in an ironic, it's-so-bad-it's-good way, but really, we just thought it was awesome. I mean---flying, tobacco-spitting cupcakes? Spewey the pet alien? The Handsome Boy Modeling School?

All it took for my brother to make me lose it in church was to do one of the following things:

1) Sing any hymn in a high-pitched falsetto, a la Chris Elliot in the opening scene of Cabin Boy.

By the way, a funny side note: A Spanish teacher at my first job had a Cabin Boy poster in his classroom. I figured this meant that we were going to be BFFs. I congratulated him on his awesome taste in film. He replied, "That's the worst movie ever made. I have the poster because I was in the movie." It turns out that he was one of the people in the choir and still gets royalties.

2) Lean over and say, "Do you wanna buy a monkey?" The suck-a-lemon Lutherans sitting in the back row would disapprove with pursed lips and icy glares. (We were always late, and had to sit right up front, since all the "good" back seats were taken).

3) After communion, Tom would say, "Hmmmmmm. Good deet today." (When I was younger, I thought the communion wafers were called "deets," because the pastor would always say, "Take and eat," aka "Take a deet.")

I would reply, "Yes, these are the best deets EV-AH!"

Maybe you had to be there.

There are many more inside jokes that we shared, most of which are as tedious as this post for 99% of you, my loyal readers. The whole point of inside jokes is that most people don't appreciate them, because you're smiling at a memory more than the actual words.

I guess that's why the gas station Muzak made me a little emotional. My brother lives in Seattle, and I haven't seen him since 2006. Neither of us are all that great on the phone, and so we simply don't know each other as well.

Tom came to my sister-in-law's wedding many years ago, and my sister-in-law said, "When you two are together, it's like the rest of the world melts away." She's right. When Tom and I fall into our easy groove, where we do the Hammer Dance or talk about Forever Knight and Cornholio, we are a walking, talking inside joke.

Tom is very happy, has a nice lady friend, writes lovely poetry, and rides his bike all over the city. Life is good for him. I wouldn't want anything else.

But, there are days, and I'm sure he agrees, that you want another person to know your shorthand, your history, your entire self. Somebody who shares the same parents, the same genetic quirks, and the same sense of humor.

Somebody who knows that it only takes the words, "Do you wanna learn some fisherman's Greek?" to leave me gasping for air, tears running down my cheeks.

That kind of person. Miss you, Tom.

3 comments:

Coby Goesling said...

Just lovely.

As soon as I saw the name Chris Elliot I thought of Lee Tompkins! Ha!

Corrie Howe said...

Sweet. Hope my two younger children have the same relationship. Right now I'm amazed to watch them play word games and they'll know immediately what the other is talking about.

My in-laws play the same game and don't know what the other is talking about. They've been married 51 years now.

Tom Mohrman said...

This makes me miss you so much Nancy. :(
I hope your boys have a friendship like ours.
I have vacation time coming up pretty soon. It's been too long...