My brother and I have this thing. Call it one-upmanship. Call it a contest to see who can be first. Call it sibling rivalry at it’s worst. He actually started it, many years ago, and in the beginning, I didn’t think anything about it. But, suddenly it dawned on me, and, when it did, I said,
And, ever since, it’s been a mad dash to the finish. Everyone at work is privy to this race of ours, and some have even tried to help me win. But I rarely do. You see, my brother is quite adept at this and he definitely has an advantage, he being in a time zone that is two hours ahead of mine, so I’m often still asleep when he awakens and gets the latest scoop.
Still haven’t figured it out?
My brother loves to be the first with breaking news. He’s a regular news wire, Twitter feed, CNN junkie all rolled into one. He has his finger on the pulse and the other hovering over his smart phone, at the ready, to send out a text to all the family with the latest news.
Plain and simple, my brother was born to be a journalist, a muckraker, a newspaper reporter, a newshound. Yet, he’s none of these. Not by profession, anyway.
Mostly, he has a zeal for being first with breaking news about celebrity deaths, but on occasion he’s been first to tell me breaking news about celebrity, well, breakups (for example, think Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes).
This goes as far back as Princess Diana. In those days, neither of us had cell phones. I’ll never forget that evening. It was late August, kids were still out of school, enjoying the last days of their summer vacation, and we had spent the entire evening doing one of our favorite things, exploring our local bookstore. We had just returned home, each of us having added two to three books to our personal libraries, when the phone rang.
I picked it up. It was my brother.
“Watch the news. Princess Diana is dead!” He blurted, and then hung up.
No, wait. This actually started further back than Princess Diana. It was in 1994!
A Friday evening in early June. I remember because I was sick to my stomach. I had gone out with friends from work to celebrate someone’s retirement and we had eaten at this Greek place and though I love Greek food, I got sick. Really, really sick. I couldn’t-keep-anything-down I was so sick. So I was home in a near coma, laying on my bed in a pool of sweat and drifting in and out of consciousness, when the phone rang.
“Turn on the TV. OJ’s being chased by the police!”
That’s all my brother said and hung up. In my delirium, I did what I was told. I dragged myself out of bed and turned on the TV. I watched for the next several hours, what would turn out to be the most incredibly slow chase in history. I wasn’t sure whether my eyes were deceiving me, and to this day, I still wonder how much of that chase was real and how much of it was part of some surreal Fellini-like dream that I was having as a result of my debilitating nausea.
In any case, over the years, my brother must have told me of about 277 celebrity deaths, including Phil Hartman, Whitney Houston, Dick Clark, Donna Summers, and Elizabeth Taylor.About a week ago, Andy Griffith died. My friend, Trisha, tried to give me the heads up via text, hoping I’d be first with the news. But she doesn’t have the practice, the experience and the tenacity, that my brother has and so, she couldn’t compete. He beat her text by mere minutes.
But, there’s always the next time. Like this past Sunday, when Academy-Award winning actor, Ernest Borgnine, passed away. I happened to be on my computer when the email alert from The Washington Post arrived with the news. I immediately looked at my texts to see if I’d received one from my brother. Nope. I then went into action and sent a text and an email, not only to my brother, but to all my siblings so they could have proof that I was first with the news.
Well, as macabre as this contest might seem, I’m in it for the long haul. So, until next time, Bro!