Thursday, April 23, 2015

365 Project - Day 113 - "Happy Birthday, Bro!"

April 23, 2015 - "Happy Birthday, Bro!"

Today is my brother Kenny’s birthday. I won’t say how old he is… I’ll just point out the fact that he’ll always be older than me.

Kenny is - of my three older brothers - the one closest in age to me. We grew up together at a time when our two oldest brothers - Xavier and Peter - were pretty much already out of the house and out on their own. So for the bulk of my childhood it was just Kenny and me.

Kenny loved to torture me as a child. He told me that there was a monster who would come into my room while I was sleeping and take photos of my hands and feet to bring back to his boss so that he could determine whether or not I was ready to be eaten. So, as a result, I slept with my socks on and with my hands hidden under my pillow, wrapped up in a small blanket.

When I went to kindergarten, Kenny told me that there was a monster who lived in the toilet bowl who would pop out and bite my wiener off unless I sang while I went to the bathroom. My first day of school I barricaded myself in the small bathroom at the back of the classroom - singing as loudly as I could so I wouldn’t lose my wiener.

That’s just how it was growing up with Kenny as my brother!

We actually didn’t fight much… never physically, anyway - this despite the fact that I annoyed the crap out of him, and I knew it. Yet because we were so close in age, Kenny meant the world to me… and I found myself liking whatever he liked and believing whatever he said. He told me that Harley-Davidson made the best motorcycles, period. So I believed him. He told me that Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitar player that ever lived, period. So I believed him. He told me that Marilyn Monroe was the hottest woman there ever was, period. So I believed him.

And I tried to copy him. When the movie “Breakin’” came out and Kenny suddenly decided he was a Breakdancer… I tried to be one too. When Kenny went to see Iron Maiden and became convinced that they were the greatest band in the world… I thought they were too (and still do, by-the-way). When Kenny grew his hair long - and looked like a cross between Joey Ramone and Howard Stern - for some strange reason I decided that that look was cool, and grew my hair long too.

So there I was… sixteen years old… with long hair and loving Iron Maiden more than anything else - all because of my dorky brother Kenny.

When I lived in New York state and was constantly feeling down - having left all of my friends behind in Florida - Kenny would come up on weekends and snatch me away to stay with him and my Aunt Pat down in Norwalk. Those weekends were my favorite times!

It was Kenny who took me to my very first concert: The heavy metal band “Pro-Pain” at the Rocker Room in Port Chester, NY. I had no ID, so he had to plead with the bouncer to let me in… and it worked! I remember watching in awe as Kenny dove into the mosh-pit, while I stayed on the sidelines. At the end of the concert the lead singer threw out a bunch of guitar picks… and Kenny got one for me. I still have it… it’s in today’s photo.

Kenny also took me to my second concert: “Anthrax” and “White Zombie” at The Marquee Theater in Norwalk, CT. I knew Anthrax quite well, everybody did - but hadn’t really heard of White Zombie yet. They just weren’t well known at that point. When White Zombie came on, I stood there in awe - staring at the really hot female bass player, Sean Yseult. I was standing there staring as the pit erupted all around me. Kenny grabbed me by the shoulder and dragged me out of the pit to safety.

(Sean Yseult of White Zombie)

After the show we went behind the theater and got to hang out with the band. Sean Yseult came out of the tour bus and approached me. She signed my ticket… gave me a hug… all while I was saying something stupid like “Do you know who you are!?!”. I was in heaven!

(My White Zombie autographs. Sean Yseult's is in the center, with the pentagram/star. The other two are the guitarist and drummer. Rob Zombie wouldn't talk to anyone or give any autographs. He left the tour bus, ignored all of the fans, got in a rental car and sped away while the rest of the band hung out with everyone.)

Over the years Kenny and I have gone to a lot of shows together: OverKill… Aerosmith… KISS… and, of course - Iron Maiden.

Kenny was the one who snuck me into my first bar. I don’t remember the name of it… I only remember that it was in downtown Stamford. In fact that is literally the only thing I remember… as he had to carry me out of there by the end of the night!

When I was 17 - Kenny “forced” me to go to an Emmaus Retreat with his church - St. Matthew’s in Norwalk. At the beginning of the weekend I was hating his guts for making me go. By the end of the weekend we were all sorts of hugs and tears and mushy stuff. He gave me a gold crucifix. I still have it. It’s in today’s photo.

When I was 18 - Kenny took me for my first tattoo. I got a tribal dragon that I had drawn up - because I was born in the Year of the Dragon. Speaking of tattoos… When Kenny took up tattooing, I became one of his primary canvases. My wife was his first “victim”… I was his second. He has tattooed me nine times… and I’ve tattooed him once. 

When Kenny married the love of his life, Michelle - I proudly stood by his side as a Groomsman. He gave all of us Groomsmen engraved pocket knives as gifts. I still have mine. It’s also in today’s photo.

When Kenny and Michelle became pregnant with my niece Madison - we all celebrated. Soon after their announcement Holly and I found out that we were expecting our first child as well. Madison was born at the very end of May… and our daughter Caitlynn was born just a few short weeks later.

When my son Brandon received his Baptism, Communion and Confirmation - Kenny stood there as his Godfather.

Over the years there have been many wonderful highs… and too many absolutely terrible lows that we’ve experienced together. But we’re still here. Still fighting for each day. I love my brother Kenny more than I could ever explain. I’d do anything for him. Well, almost anything. There IS one thing I won’t do for him - and that’s helping him move his freakin’ huge-ass 180-gallon fish tank again! When he got that freakin’ tank he and I carried that damn thing into the house and set it on it’s base. It was freakin’ heavy as hell! I’ll do anything for him… ANYTHING… except help to move that freakin’ tank again!

But other than THAT - I’ll always be there for you Bro!

I love you!

Happy Birthday!

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