My brother is one year and two weeks younger than me. When people see us together, on looks alone they surmise that we are indeed brothers. Well, that’s where the similarity ends. We are opposite in just about every other sense of the word.
I was a good student; He wasn’t. He has always been fascinated with the military; Not me, so much. I take responsibility; He shirks it. He lives somewhere between the financial edge and the abyss; My finances are in order. I am a tall, charming, good looking lady’s man; He’s just hopelessly single. (Hey, I am the author here, so this article is written MY way!)
Over the last fifteen years or so, and until recently, he lived in Virginia. So I only saw him about once a year usually around Christmas if even that often. I really have difficulty being in his presence for more than a couple hours at a time, though. Something weird happens when the two of us get together. In his presence it seems my I.Q. drops about forty points. Like matter and anti-matter, I have a brain, and he has an anti-brain. I did say we are opposites, right? Yes, when my brother and I get together, between us, we don’t make an entire brain. And the older we get, the less of a brain we make!
Well, one Christmas he and his kids came to visit mom and dad here in northwest New Mexico. It’s normally pretty dry here over Christmas, but it was unusual this particular year as there was an abundance of snow on the ground, albeit a bit patchy here and there. Still, it qualified as a white Christmas, and you know how magical those can be. Both my father and I have four-wheeler ATV’s and we all decided it would be a lot of fun to take them out on Christmas Day. So we did.
I love this small town! In ten minutes I can be in the boonies tearing up the countryside. We went to a sandy wash area just below a hill. We parked on the hill so we could have a pretty good view of the wash where we would all be riding. The kids all took turns on the ATV’s and it was a blast to see them have so much fun.
My brother’s anti-brain was in overdrive when we decided we would each take an ATV for a ride. In the sandy wash. Covered in patchy snow. On Christmas Day. As you can probably guess, the ride quickly degenerated into a race to see who could do the stupidest thing on an ATV. You may be aware of the rednecks famous last words? “Hey! Watch this!” Well I gotta tell ya, rednecks ain’t the only ones who say them words.
We were doing figure-8’s, throwing “brodees”, power braking, and the more ridiculous his stunt was, the more ridiculous mine became. I mean, there was NO WAY my brother was going to best me on an ATV – NO WAY! For every donut he made, I made two. For every foot of air I achieved, he’d get one more. Finally we entered an all-out, one-way, do-or-die, four-wheeler free-for-all! We were making fishtails, two-wheel power slides, power wheelies. . . Snow was throwing, sand was blowing, and engines were screaming as the cold air bit and wrung snot and tears about freezing our faces. We were on a different plane of immortal existence – until . . .
As my brother fishtailed out of sight, I raced to catch up to him, fishtailing, of course. I was powering out of a left turn swinging the ass-end of the ATV to the right when the right rear wheel slid out of the snow and caught firm on a solidly frozen patch of sand. It was as if the tire caught dry pavement. The utter shock of having the handlebars ripped from hands was eclipsed a split second later when the rock-hard patch of sand reached up and swiftly, with an unrelenting “thud”, smacked me square on my right-side butt cheek. I did a sliding bounce and hit the same cheek a second time when physics laid me out flat against the earth and slid me to a rest in a patch of snow which was forced up the back of my jacket.
I laid there looking up at the clear blue sky trying to figure out just what in the hell happened while simultaneously doing a “systems check” of sorts determining which body parts were still attached, which were still on the 4-wheeler, and which were dead and had to be amputated. As I rolled on to my left side, I couldn’t tell which was worse: the burning cold sensation from snow in direct contact with my lower back, or the deep throbbing pain coursing through my cold right butt cheek. I looked up and discovered the four-wheeler was still in gear, idling down the snow-covered wash as if a ghost was kickin’ back just enjoying the ride. My brother was nowhere in sight. So I stood up, putting all my weight on my left leg, but you know, my right leg is inextricably connected to my butt cheek, so no matter how I moved, my butt was wracked with pain.
In a scene somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Frankenstein’s assistant, Igor, I chased the four-wheeler at the fastest limping speed I could muster, grunting with every other step I took. The ATV idled into a large sage brush and stopped. Roughly thirty steps later – it felt like a mile - I caught up with the machine and took it out of gear. Just then, my brother came back into view. He looked toward me with obvious concern on his face as I was bent over the seat relieving all the weight off my right leg. He drove up and asked, “What the hell happened, man?”
“Damned four-wheeler bucked me off! I landed flat square on my ass back there.” I unnecessarily pointed in the general direction. It was obvious where the incident occurred. The idle four-wheeler tracks and my ass-draggin’ Igor steps led right to it. I looked at my brother with wincing pain in my face. He looked at me, and as we both realized I wasn’t going to die of terminal ass cheek failure, my pain and his concern yielded to subtle chuckling, which turned into gleeful laughter, followed by mutual gut-splitting hilarity.
As I was bent over the seat unable to catch my breath between perpetual outbursts of laughter, I managed to wrangle myself back on the machine sitting entirely on my left cheek. With my butt bruised worse than my ego, we eased our way back to the hill and loaded the ATV’s onto the trucks. The ride home was exceptionally rough. You don’t know how many bumps are on a road until you feel every one of them though an instantly tenderized “glute”.
We traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve. So except for Christmas dinner, I don’t remember much else happening that day. But I do recall it was one of the best Christmases ever.