Not Just a Friend's Older Brother Anymore

Years ago, when I was in my mid-twenties, I was dating a man named John, and we drove to visit my college friend Jen for the day at her parents’ house in Cincinnati. Jen had an older brother I had known over the years but not spent any significant amount of time with. This brother, Danny, was into sports, which I was not. (I remember on the day of our college graduation, Danny had arrived at the rental house where Jen and I lived, and the first thing he did when he walked into our place was stalk into the room with the lone, crappy TV and flip it on to catch some important game he absolutely could not miss.) In general, especially back then, Danny didn’t spend a lot of time—if any—on his kid sister’s friends. And who can blame him? When we visited her, at most we got a hi, how’s it goin' before he would disappear into his bedroom off the garage. 

At any rate, on this particular day that I went to visit Jen at her parents’ house with the man I was seeing, I rang Jen’s doorbell and was surprised when Danny answered the door. The fact that Danny was there was not what surprised me (he visited now and again) but that Danny had, apparently, been on some health kick and had, apparently, spent some time in the sun because he looked slender and tan and, well, not just like any other older brother anymore. 

I have a bad feeling I stood there with my mouth hanging open. 

“Hi,” I managed to muster, though words were becoming difficult. My polite, midwestern sensibilities got the better of me, however, and I realized I was being rude by not introducing Danny to the man I was dating. So I said, “Danny, this is. . . . ” 

Um…… I couldn't think. Danny’s tan was making me sweat.

I tried again. “This is, um. . . .”

The man I was seeing looked at me, not exactly lovingly, and said, “John?!”

It was not my finest relationship moment or my finest trying-to-look-composed moment.

I was reminded of this incident last night when I listened to my radio interview on the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas. There was a moment when I was talking about the structure of my book, but I couldn’t think of the word “structure” and stammered a bit to try and retrieve it from memory, and I remember Vick was standing away from his mic and had to step toward it and lean into the mic and say, “Structure??” to help me out of my loss for words. 

It was better than his having to say, “John?!” But I’m sure my face turned red just the same.

The incident is funny now—the Danny one, and the interview one. 

I’m sure it wasn’t so funny to John, however—and if he is reading this, which I am fairly certain he is not, then: I’m sorry. Does it help that I remember your name now?