It was my brother’s birthday last week, so I decided to do some sort of tribute-like sibling post about him.
Unlike my mom and dad, who I’ve written extensively about in my old blog, I don’t really talk about my brother as much. My family has never been mushy-showy. As a result, Det and I are used to showing affection in more brutal, deprecating ways. In fact, there is a chance that he would be mortified this post – but that’s what big sisters are for right?
Seriously, though, Det is the only family I have left. And it’s high time I show him some love.
I figured, though, that instead of peppering this article with tearful, flowery words, it would be much more reminiscent of our relationship to illustrate my brother’s character by sharing with you some funny anecdotes about him.
Vitus Voltaire = Voltes 5
It’s no secret to people who know us that my brother and I didn’t always get along. Infact, the moment he was born, it was hate at first sight.
Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to become an ate. But I really, really wanted a baby sister. So, when he came out, I was furious. So furious, that I demanded that we exchange him in the nursery for a girl. I was throwing such a ruckus that my uncle intervened and gave me a major-dress down. That stopped the tantrums, but I was still seething. A bald, flat-nosed brother was not part of my life plans.
I guess, to pacify me, my dad offered to let me name him. (I’m just trying to justify my dad’s motivations because it really was screwed up to let your 4-year old make decisions with lifetime consequences. For all you know, he was just too lazy to think of something, but I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt.)
Anyway, I decided on the perfect name: Voltes 5. (I was 4 guys!) You would think, that my parents would balk at this and rescind their offer by bribing me with something else. But no, they stuck to the bargain.
To give him some sense of legitimacy, they decided to call him Voltaire.
If that wasn’t enough, poor Det also had to contend with my paternal grandmother’s naming prowess. My grandmother insisted that my parents had to insert a saint’s name in there somewhere. As luck would have it, my brother was born on the feast day of St. Vitus.
So there you have it. He was christened Vitus Voltaire: Defender of the Intergalactic Universe.
Ofcourse, his identity woes did not stop there. I recently found out from one of my titas that he had me to blame for his nickname too.
In my head, he was not Voltaire; he was Voltes 5. So I started calling him “Voltes” – or at least that was the intention. But I was 4 and my verbal skills were not exactly stellar. So it came out as “Bodet”. The monicker unfortunately stuck.
Having a full name that was fit for a ruler of a galaxy far, far away, and a nickname that screamed, pot-bellied tambay, should have been enough for Det to resent me forever.
But that’s the wonderful thing about my brother. He doesn’t keep grudges. He’s one of the kindest, most forgiving people I know. (See what I did right there? Embarassing story + compliment so he doesn’t kill me. 😛 )
Naming him was the least of my big sister sins. I bullied him like crazy when we were growing up. Det would cry, get angry and sometimes fight back. But when the royal rumble was over, he’d go back to his being his cheerful, upbeat self.
He has remained good natured and kind-hearted up to this day. As adults, I would often come to him whining and seething about certain people or certain situations. Det would always deal with this by listening to me, making a few irreverent jokes, and then encouraging me to temper my thoughts of retribution because, as he would amiably point out, “it just won’t lead anywhere”.
He’s always been the calm, jovial voice in my temperamental head.
ON THAT STRAND OF FUNKY HAIR
Det may be pleasant, but he can also get incredibly annoying.
When we were kids, he would covet every single thing that I owned. Because I was older, my maternal grandmother would encourage me (encourage is such a mild word –compel is more like it) to share my toys with him because, “ he’s just a baby” (roll eyes). ‘Share’ meant give up the toy until he gets tired of it by the way, so you can understand the reluctance.
The thing is though, as with all bothersome little brothers, he always wanted the particular toy that I was playing with. So as soon as I gave him my toy and occupied myself with something else, he would immediately cry and make a grab for the whatever it was that I settled on.
One day, I decided that I had enough of this emotional blackmail.
While I was playing with a new Fisher Price Sink that I was enamored with (I was using it as a bubble bath for my Barbies), Det toddles along and immediately makes a beeline for it. To avoid getting screamed at by our grandmother, I gave the sink to him willingly.
I then proceeded to scour the area for some discarded thing that I could bribe him with. The problem was, I couldn’t let go of any of the toys that were there because, dude, what if my Barbies needed them later on?
And that’s when I found it: A strand of hair stuck on the carpet. So I began to play with that piece of hair enthusiastically – oohing and aahing and twirling it around until Det finally noticed. As expected, he freaks out and asks for the hair. So I gave it to him, grabbed my sink and my Barbies, and locked myself in my room.
The funny thing is, even as an adult, Bodet has always been the kind of person who would take your word about things. It’s not gullibility – he just CHOOSES to believe that people are good and honest, and that they will not intentionally cheat or hurt others.He just really thinks the best of people.
Even if he’s proven wrong, he has enough willpower to shrug things off and completely let it go. He doesn’t allow experiences with shady people make him jaded about the world in general.
ON BEING ADOPTED
I mentioned that I’ve always been an awful sister, right? I was so awful, that I used to torment Det about being adopted. I would go on and on and plant seeds of doubt in his head, “I look like papa, ” I would say, ” but you don’t look like ANYONE in the family. You’re definitely adopted.”
At first, he would cry and sulk, insist that he looked like our mom, and badger me to take back what I said.
After a while though, I noticed that he was coming to terms with the idea.
Infact, he even formulated a story in his head. According to him, he was the son of a haciendero whose main business was raising pigs to sell for bacon and porkchops. But they lost their money because his dad gambled it all away. So they were forced to give him up for adoption. They had to leave him in the trash can so people would take pity on him and take him. Their house was way bigger than ours, he claimed. And he had more toys than the two of us combined, but he had to sell those too.
Yes, Elizabeth Loftus, I had successfully given little brother false memories. (Psych 101 lesson #2. False memory: “An apparent recollection of an event that did not actually occur. The phenomenon was was studied extensively by cognitive psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus.)
As awful as this makes me sound, I think it also characterizes Det’s outlook in life. Between the two of us, he’s always been the positive one. He doesn’t let unfortunate situations get the best out of him.
During family tragedies, Det would always be the first one to break a tense, grief-stricken situation by cracking an impertinent joke or finding something amusing about our circumstances.
He just really has a knack for putting an optimistic twist in every situation life throws at him.
I said this during my speech in his wedding- I’ve always been of the opinion that between the two of us, Det is definitely the kinder, nicer one. But there’s a lot more to him than what I’ve described.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing more funny anecdotes and will be describing how we got to a point where we finally got along.
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