I'm sitting in the middle of the coffee shop, surrounded by people, and I think to myself My brother is a jerk.
Now, I don't think of myself as being a jerk. I am occasionally to my darling boyfriend, but then I apologize and we make out. And I don't like to think that I hang out with jerks. It just so happens that I am related to one, and this jerk is the form of a almost-six-foot-tall stocky Marine. He has tattoos winding around his left arm, his hair is in the high-and-tight standard Marine style, and his mouth spouts Marine-isms, punctuated with the word 'fuck'. He also has the standard military issue fear of homosexuals, or really, anyone who is different from himself.
The night begins: I was to cook dinner for he and his wife. Suddenly, his friends are coming along, and he didn't bother to tell us, and then his wife decides that she'd prefer to eat out. And he didn't bother to tell me until I called him when I got off of work--he'd 'forgotten' that I had told him my plans a scant 4 hours before.
This was the inkling of my realization that my brother is a jerk. Annoyed and a little hurt, I told him to just bring along his friends, and we'd go out to eat. Then we chose a most delicious hole-in-the-wall sort of place, The Cajun Gypsy. (They have probably the best Cajun food in our area). My sister-in-law loved it, trying all the foods we ordered. My brother sulked. Then we thought we'd go out for drinks, but because we weren't drinking to oblivion or playing pool but just hanging out and chatting, it was 'boring'.
The final incident which clinched the realization that my brother was a jerk was in the way he treated a dear friend of mine. This friend came along because I hadn't seen him all week, and I wanted to hang out with him more. My dear friend is one of the kindest, most generous people I know--and my brother treated him like dirt. And why did he treat him thus? Because he believed my friend was gay.
The realization was all mixed up in my head, with anger and love and pain on the part of my friend. He knew that my brother was being a jerk; he saw how he was ignored. Even my brother's marine buddy was friendly toward everyone. And I was left sitting in my chair, sipping my thankfully-spiked coffee, wondering how I ended up so differently from my brother. From the rest of my family for that matter. I don't think it was just college: there must be some fundamental difference of being. I'm not sure what.
But I do know this: while I love my brother to death, he is a jerk.
Additional note: Shortly after posting, I received a call from my brother. He said, "Hey, I just realized that I was being a huge jerk last night and I wanted to apologize". Huh. Maybe there is hope for him.