Ann Marie Cross, also known by me since her birth as Mee Mee . . .
I was eight going on nine when she was born and Jamie was going on five. Both of us boys were unsure about having a little sister join us. We barely managed to tolerate each other, so how were we going to deal with a sister? She wasn’t even a boy!
But, when the magic day came and Mom brought little Mee Mee home, I was lost! I fell in love with that little girl right there and then and so did Jamie. She was definitely a Cross Kid, though, even at a young age, we knew . . . she was something far more special than either of us!
She learned to walk, talk, and use the potty WAY before either of us! Why, I’m still not sure Jamie’s entirely housebroken! I mean, he’s almost ready to get his driver’s license! The kid’s aim is just abysmal . . . hence my nickname for him – Squirt!
Marie also had more Taurus in her than any other May baby I’ve ever seen! She’s one gal you don’t want to piss off! But, she’s also one gal that, when she loves you, you’re loved for life! I’ve nursed my share of bruised shins, that’s for sure, but I’ve also kept every one of her friendship bracelets that she loves to make for me too! Those friendship bracelets lasted where the bruises didn’t.
I’ve always known that Marie was meant for bigger and better things in this life. This feeling only grew in me as she did. She’s in her last year of Middle School now and she’s already knocked out most of her 10th and 11th Grade classes already! High School might be a moot point for her now, but I hope she’s allowed to go anyway. She is heir to popularity just like her big dumb blond brother, but unlike him, she doesn’t seem to value it or take it seriously. She’s always been very selective with her friends and only keeps a couple around her at any given time. She’s careful. I don’t know why she is, but she is very careful about people. It must be in-born because I can’t think of anyone that’s ever gotten away with hurting my Mee Mee! That’s mostly because of me, I think!
I’ve always been fiercely protective of her. I’ve even been heavily reprimanded by my Mom and Pop for the times I’d tear into Jamie for pulling some stupid shit that would make little Marie cry! I was reminded that I’m not the parent! I’m just her big brother and had a lot to learn and that also, I had a duty to look after Jamie too!
Well, I never questioned that with Jamie. Of course, I’ve come to bat for him a lot of times too and think that is one of the reasons he’s been able to accrue the Jock Army he now has at his beck and call. Jamie and I were close enough in age to where I’d often be in the same school as him just as he got started while I was finishing up. By the time Jamie’d come on the scene, I’d already have my red-headed reputation established. This was particularly good in Grade School when little tow-headed Jamie would get in trouble with some asshole bully and Crazy Chandler would come to his wailing little brother’s aide and THRASH whoever was bugging him. I was in detention and suspended any number of times for Jamie, so having my folks think I’d happily kill Jamie over Marie was ludicrous. However, sometimes, I’d come damn close to wanting to!
I’ve always felt disconnected from Marie, though. Her world and mine has always been so much different. I suppose that distance grew as I stopped attending Church. More than anything, Marie liked Church. At first, I figured it was just her natural piousness that drove her, or the fact that she loved how pretty Church was, or the music, etc. I asked her about it and she said it was because that was where Jesus lived and she loved Him! Her innocent answer at five years old was all I needed to know about the fact that Marie not only had a great mind, but a greater soul! She really does seem to be an angel sent to earth to live with us mere mortals for a while.
Later, though . . . her passion for going to Church seemed to take a more, um, obsessive turn. I was afraid she might be getting too serious into religiosity, but, thankfully, Jamie is a blabbermouth and he goes to Church regularly too, mostly because Mom insists.
He informed me that there was another guy in there that Marie had started worshipping other than the Big Guy upstairs. She thought she was being secretive about it, but Jamie isn’t as stupid as he makes out, like I’ve said before. He also can’t hold his attention to ‘Church Stuff’ for more than 10 seconds, usually. So, following Marie’s line of sight would have been an easy distraction for him.
Jamie picked up on you, Brandon, as you sat there next to your Dad. I remember him telling me about the fact he’d never seen you before and thought how cool you were at doing all the ‘Church Stuff’ right. Naturally, he had to tease Mee Mee about you which earned him some well placed smacks later. Marie has Jamie’s hair, but my temper!
Strangely enough, Marie never talked to me about you. I got what intelligence I could from Jamie’s constant blabbing. Please, NEVER tell Jamie anything that you want to keep in confidence! He simply cannot keep secrets. He doesn’t lie, which is a good thing . . . usually, but that can be a big problem if anyone tells him not to talk about something. I hope to God he never gets in a situation where he needs to tell state secrets to terrorists or whatever!
I considered attending a Mass just to see who it was that had captured my Mee Mee’s attention and if I needed to threaten them with their life or anything. But, I thought better of it. I figured that if she wanted my input she’d ask for it. She’s never been shy about that with other things. Hell, I don’t think Marie has ever had a shy moment in her entire life! She’s always had that same extroverted quality Jamie has and I had, before the Gay thing made me more cautious about people.
So I left it. Interestingly, I never put two and two together and make the result be you and Mee Mee. This is something of a surprise, to be honest. I knew Marie had been seeing somebody, but not who. Fortunately, for my curiosity, I knew my birthday was coming up and that, by tradition, I had to make an appearance at home. Jamie had been ragging me about it for a month. There was little peace for me about it between me picking him up from school on certain days and his calling me constantly. He’d call to ask me about what I might want that he could surprise me with, by the way. Um, Jamie doesn’t seem to get the concept of ‘surprise’!
So, I show up after my afternoon photo labs and find a couple of Jamie’s Goon Squad out front trying to shoot hoops in our drive-way basketball hoop over the garage. I say trying, because neither were succeeding. I forget their names and that’s probably because I never knew them or cared to know them. They wave at me all the same and make cat-call whistles at either my car or my tight clothes. I swear hormone crazy High School jocks will want to hump anyone or anything they see. In keeping with that thought, they both came up to me and ‘hugged’ on me and one of them smacked my butt like he’d known me for years! That one just about got a fisting . . . to the mouth-hole! I relented, however, seeing Jamie’s silly face peeking out at me from behind the drapes inside. He’s too cute, my little Squirt brother, so I spared him the carnage. I have to remember not to wear the tight denim cutoffs again around Jamie’s harem. I think it makes my ass too inviting a target for ‘confused’ young men.
I saw Pop go around to the back yard to get the grill going and noticed Mom’s car wasn’t around which could only mean that these lunatics had the full run of the house for most of the afternoon! I shuddered to think at what horrors awaited me in there!
I opened the door and was immediately greeted by a crushing bear hug from Jamie like he hadn’t just seen me a couple of days ago! After him I picked up my little Mee Mee and kissed her face to embarrass her as much as possible. I don’t think her thirteen year old self likes getting picked up like a seven year old, but, hey . . . old habits, you know? Besides, her I hadn’t seen in a while since our schedules seem to be so off these days. I swear the girl works harder than either of us boys ever did in our lives.
Setting her down, I went looking and found you there looking so adorably starstruck! Hehehe!
Brandon, you have the cutest ‘uh-oh’ face I’ve ever seen! It just lights up, you know?
You’ll forgive me for the “A-Ha! This must be the ‘boyfriend’! Wow, Marzzy . . . Sharezies?” comment when I immediately picked you out as the Boyfriend from Church. I knew it could only be you. The guy with the bike and the guy Jamie goes on about. I figured it was only a matter of time before you’d get Crossed! Mee Mee’s possessiveness was a bit shocking, especially the, um, PG-13 way she went about it! Honestly, Mee Mee! Did you have to go and pinch poor Brandon’s butt? The ‘Uh-Oh’ face almost made it impossible for me not to up and kiss the boy myself! Hence the, “Let’s wait a few years, yet. Then we’ll see.”
Happy as I was at seeing you there with Marie and finally getting to meet you face to face, I had my concerns for my Little One. My Gaydar went off immediately when I saw you for the first time and that riveted look you gave me at my Birthday Party rather put a punctuation mark on that Gaydar sounding. I know that look better than anyone and as cute as the ‘uh-oh’ face was, I knew where the shock was coming from. You ‘digged’ me, as they used to say in the Flaming Seventies. Yet, you were trying something out with Marie. I understand why. At that time you weren’t sure about yourself. Most of us go through a ‘girl’ phase to be sure of who we are . . . but I wish it hadn’t had to have been my Marie! As it turned out, circumstance answered the question and Marie had to go away to a school far off, so that separated the two of you. I’m glad of that, I think there would have been some broken hearts aplenty if you had to finally live your truth, Brandon, which would mean you’d have to dump Marie. That could of been the case or, just as bad, you’d continue on for Marie’s sake and have the hollow empty kind of relationship where something is always ‘off’. They usually end up the same way, broken, only after much more investment and much worse heart rending. I’ve seen it before . . . it’s not pretty!
That said, at the time of the party I hoped my Gaydar was wrong and that you were just that rare gentle sweet straight boy Marie has always dreamed of. You are definitely her type. I hope she can find another like you more suited to her and at a later age when she’ll be more emotionally mature to handle a relationship.
Later, like something in the house was purposefully tossing you at me, we literally bumped into each other at the bathroom of all places. A place, I must confess, that was a site for many of my ‘sins’ when I was your age and a little older.
Oh those starry eyes and full on blush . . . I was so tempted to just kiss you and get it over with, but . . . I know better. I played it off with a riff of some song I must have picked up from somewhere. I’ve learned, when a situation is awkward, it’s best to make it even more awkward to the point where it just becomes plain silly. So, that might explain my deal that day.
I sent you on your way to find that little Gay friend of yours. That emo guy, who was waiting for you, must have had to put up with those oafs in the front room for a long time. That poor kid! Of course, it had to go the direction it did with the likes of Karl and Jason around. When they get within spitting distance of a pretty boy smaller than them they always turn into Nelly trolls. When they get old enough, I’m going to have to drag them down to Boystown bodily to get them broken in. Those two are flaming closet-cases! As close as they are, I have a suspicion that Karl and Jason are already a ‘secret’ item and that they’ve already broken each other in. But, still they feel the need to beef up what’s left of their masculinity by picking on guys younger than them. Bullies to the end, I guess.
Speaking of bullies, I heard that familiar bull moose-like bellowing and figured Karl had gotten into the liquor cabinet since, naturally, when he’s in someone else’s house he has a right to raid Dad’s liquor!
I stalked down the stairs and high school jocks parted well away from me as I zeroed in on my prey. It’s the likes of Karl that give us red heads a bad name, particularly Gingers like Karl. I just caught the end of Karl’s one sided conversation, “HEY! I was TALKIN’ to you two! It’s bad fuckin’ manners just to walk away when someone starts a nice friendly conversation with you!”
Opening the door, I saw the hulking giant carrot from Mars coming to loom over you and that poor emo kid who’s eyes were as big as blue saucers! Awwww!
No Fucking Way! NOT IN MY HOUSE! NOT EVAR!
Do you ever get so mad you can feel the tips of your ears burning? Well . . .
“HEY, ASSWIPE! LEAVE ‘EM ALONE!” Bellowed I.
Karl: “Something . . . ChanChan . . . Something, Something fucking birthday” was all my blood pounding ears could hear. It didn’t matter, because all that mattered was what I had to say!
“Don’t you SASS ME, boy! Actually, you know what? GET THE FUCK OUT! I don’t want your shit-ass at my party! You always ruin shit, Karl!” Facts declared at high volume are hard with which to argue! But, somehow, Karl managed it.
“I go where I fucking WANT, Faggot! I also DO what I want! Who says YOU can fucking order me around?” Says Karl and, while pretending to be a linebacker, he charges me, the idiot. I learned a long time ago to temper my temper with some thinking-juice. Why clobber the dumb fuck with my hands and get them all hurty when I could let the door do the clobbering for me! Thanks to Pop, he installed those swinging doors into the kitchen like they have in restaurants or whatever.
CLUNK! That dazed the oversized orange Nerf football sufficiently for me to grab him, chuck him out the front door, and lock it behind him. No damage done since he only took a small knock to his head which is his hardest part. He’s lucky . . . he got off easy since I was feeling charitable on my birthday.
After some bluster, he drove off into a police ticket for speeding and probably reckless driving. He won’t be driving his dad’s pickup for a long while, I’m betting. The nerve of some people!
There was nothing but stunned silence in the room and then came my reward from my little Lady Marie – a bone crushing hug and a big kiss! She was probably even gladder than you and Emo-cutie to see that ding-dong thrown out like he sorely deserved. Interestingly, my Pop did not once step into the house to wonder about the ruckus. I imagine he knows I keep a clean house and that he needn’t worry when I’m home!
Yes, I’m crowing a bit, but hey . . . I’m a proud blustery redhead myself, mind you, and don’t you fucking forget it! Hehehe!
I had more fun than I’d had in ages playing Overwatch with you guys! You made my Twentieth Birthday something to remember! One last gasp at being a teenager before running headlong into adulthood . . .
By the way, Brandon, those are some mad PVP skills! I never took you for a Gamer, but now I know better! I’m looking for a rematch!