Have You Hugged Your Brother-in-law Today?

Posted: June 7th, 2006 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers | 1 Comment »

Yesterday was my brother-in-law John’s birthday. Well, I have two brothers-in-law named John. The one who’s hitched to Mark’s sister Lori is the one who’s now 31. We decided to take on generational guardianship of the thirties, since at ages 31 and 39 we are bookends to the decade. I’m not exactly sure what our responsibilities will be in these self-assigned posts, but we determined they were no doubt quite weighty.

So while attempting to bathe Kate last night, I called John to say happy birthday. He and Lori had young Gavin asleep and were enjoying the end of their meal–upholding his lifelong tradition of having lasagna as his birthday dinner. They’d also dug into a bottle of outstanding Surh-Luchtel wine, as they are wont to do. Say what you will about Lori and John, but you won’t go thirsty at their house. Those two have taken the at-home happy hour to all new levels.

During some of those very happy hours we’ve gotten calls from them. “Heeeeey!,” John will say. And you just know he’s been dipping into some single malt or a bottle or two of his home brew, and has made the wife a Manhattan.

It’s excellent having a brother-in-law and sister-in-law who presumably like us enough to dial our number under the influence. In those calls Mark and John talk about some baseball event or other that has them all fired up, or we swap stories about the kids. Maybe Lori and I will deconstruct some not-terribly-dramatic-but-fun-to-talk-about family episode. It’s all good clean fun, and frankly leaves Mark and I wishing A) we were drunk too (just seems like it’d double–or quadruple?–the fun), and B) that we lived closer to those guys.

John is in the Coast Guard, and is reassigned every 2-3 years. So, with them moving all the time and us generally staying put, maybe we will live close-by at some point. I defer to the language of my people (Rhode Islanders) when I say if that were to ever happen it would be “wicked awesome.” I would love love love Kate and her future sib(s) to get to know Cousin Gavin and his future sib(s) in the way you only can when you grow up alongside someone and come to look out for them through life’s adventures and mishaps. With my cousin Nancy as living proof, the cuz bond can be as strong as the sibling one if nurtured appropriately.

But also, Mark and I would love to be able to sit in the same room with Lori and John for happy hours, instead of doing them over the phone and in different time zones.

Last night John and I chatted about nothing special. He’s someone who I can get a good smack-talk workout with. He’s funny and quick, and is as happy to make up shit on the fly and run with it in the course of a conversation as I am. And I guess one thing I’ve always been curious about and impressed by with John is his Coast Guard thing. Before his and Lori’s wedding, I don’t think I’d ever met a Coasty(?), and that’s too bad. What a group of good eggs those boys are! John’s little nephew was the ring bearer and was really into hanging out with the big-guys in the wedding party. Many twenty-somethings would be more interested in focusing their energies exclusively on hitting up the bridesmaids (and I’m sure there was plenty of that going on too), but these guys were genuinely patient and sweet with the kid. And you could tell he was so proud to be in an inner circle with them. Maybe it’s just John’s friends who are that cool, and I’m giving credit to the Coast Guard on the whole, but I’d like to think it’s a trait that goes beyond John’s posse. All this is to say it’s been great getting to know someone from a world I knew nothing about, and being so pleasantly surprised by what a cool world it is. [Insert Coast Guard high-five here.]

Mark has an orange Coast Guard t-shirt that he wears fairly often. I know he’s also thrilled with his sister’s hubby choice, and wears that shirt with a bit of pride. I assume so at least, since the shirt is kinda bright…

So, my hat off to you, John. Happy birthday, sir! I am happy to be part of the same family with you, and not just because I get to be part of the Christmas gift swap that you enjoyed lording over me, or because we’re the only ones who know the true pronunciation of the word aunt.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Have You Hugged Your Brother-in-law Today?”

  1. 1 Brother-in-law John said at 8:09 pm on June 7th, 2006:

    The term “Coastie” is correct. Interestingly enough, our former Commandant actually released a statement saying that “Coastie” is the perferred term over “Coast Guardsman”. I’m not sure how he had the time with a war raging in Iraq, thousands of drug and migrant interdiction cases, search and rescue ops, homeland security, etc… but more power to him. That’s why he’s got four stars. Regardless, just wanted to say thanks for the shout out! It’s good to know that both our spouses searched for mates in a more distiguished region of the country than they grew up in. So, to my fellow Yankee (and my favorite sister-in-law), I give a very haaht felt ayuhh clink, from fah away North Carolina!

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