The Bro Game

When my brother was 3, he asked me for chocolate. So I went to the fridge and got a little white cube with a cow on it. I told him it was “milk” chocolate. He said it didn’t taste like chocolate, and he was right. Because it wasn’t chocolate. It was rotten cream cheese.

I laughed.

It took 16 years, but God finally punished me.

After a twist of events that had to be divine, my 19-year-old brother now lives with me. It’s been a month — only two more weeks to go — but, each night, I’ve begged God to switch my brother with a various world dictator. If it was Kim Jong-Il, I wouldn’t even notice.

I can overlook most of the small annoyances. But there’s just one thing I can’t ignore — something that makes me want to send him to fat camp with Tony Perkis:

He mutes me out.

It’s because he always wearing noise-canceling headphones. But even when he’s free of ear accessories, he often ignores out my voice. So when I ask him what he wants for dinner, it goes like this:

Me: Do you want chicken for dinner?

Him: What?

Me: Do you want chicken for dinner?

Him: That’s fine.

This kind of thing happens 30 times a day. It’s like I’m inconveniencing him by making him dinner. Oh, dear brother, I am so sorry I have to disturb you by asking you your dinner preference.

So, about a week ago, I decided to get revenge.

Around 5 p.m., I asked, “Do you want to dog poop for dinner?”

Sluggishly, he took off his headphones: “What?”

“Do you want spaghetti for dinner?”

“Sure.”

This satisfied me greatly. So I made it into a game:

*

Situation: I’m washing the dishes.
Me: “Do you cry when you watch Pokemon?”
Him: “What?”
Me: “Can you take out the garbage, please?”
Result: He says no.

*

Situation: I’m cleaning around him.
Me: “You smell like a used diaper filled with Indian food.”
Him: “What?”
Me: “You need to get your computer cord out of the way.”
Result: He reluctantly moves it.

*

Situation: I’m cleaning — again.
Me: “I pooped in your guitar.”
Him: “What’d you say?”
Me: “I’m going to move your guitar.”
Result: He does nothing.

*

Situation: I’m wondering if he can actually hear everything I say.
Me: “Oh my gosh, there is a huge spider on the wall behind you!”
Him: “—“
Me: “—“
Result: Nope, he’s too busy on YouTube.

*

**NEW RULE:** I am NOT allowed to say these ridiculous things when he has headphones on. Because, with his headphones on, this is too easy.

*

Situation: My brother is playing guitar. I’m behind him.
Me: “I think I’m going to eat Rainbow (our dog) today.”
Him: “What are we gonna eat?”
Me: “Burgers.”
Result: We eat burgers. Rainbow is fine.

*

Situation: My brother is playing video games. I’m cooking.
Me: “Pooooooo.”
Him: “Are you talking to Rainbow?”
Me: “Yes.”
Result: I now spend extensive parts of my day yelling, “Poooo,” and he has no idea.

*

Situation: My brother is playing video games — again. I’m cooking — again.
Me: “You pooped in the refrigerator? And you ate the whole wheel of cheese?”
Him: “—“
Me: “I’m not even mad; that’s amazing.”
Result: It wasn’t a whole wheel of cheese, but it was a whole something.

*

This game got very easy, very quickly. So it got boring and I retired. Now I’m thinking of a new game.

Of course, these ploys are childish and mean. But after each made-up game or each little fight or each ridiculous jab, things end up back at status quo. No matter how many times I accuse him of pooping in the refrigerator — or peeing in the dishwasher (true story) — our grudges fade away within minutes. And for the first time, at age 23, I’m realizing that this cycle is the process — and beauty — of brotherhood.

That said, I’m taking suggestions for new ploys.

For more on things that recur in life, visit the Rec Writers Club.

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