This picture was taken at our cousin's wedding, which as (mis)fortune would have it took place on Father's Day 2008, some 35 days after our Dad passed away. That's perhaps why, despite the joyous occasion, the smiles were a bit thinner than they otherwise would be.
I'll flatter myself that I'm a pretty smart dude - as I mentioned many moons ago I applied for, and gained, membership to MENSA just to prove to someone that I could - but Rossy is an honest-to-Buddha genius. He retains just about anything that he's ever exposed to, and many is the time that I've called him for all matter of intellectual minutiae, from song authors to a cogent discussion of intellectual exercises like The Prisoner's Dilemma - and he's had the answers immediately at hand.
How smart is he? He got a combined 1480 on his SAT's. His academic achievement speaks for itself - skipped first grade; won admission to a local Jesuit Preparatory High School and earned an academic scholarship (where he won a varsity letter for fencing, on which team he was a distinguished member), and, despite regretting the decision later in life, eschewed a free ride scholarship, tuition room board and books, to any state collage he chose, to instead enroll at and graduate from Dartmouth College.
If our parents ever failed us in any meaningful way, it might have been their unfortunate habit of pigeonholing my brothers and me and defining us in one word - thus Ross was "the smart one," despite having a good sense of humor, and I was "the personable one," despite the fact that I was smarter than the average bear. In fact it was only when I sat down with my parents to do some retirement planning some two years before my Dad died that they admitted, wonderingly and a bit grudgingly, that I had some game.
Despite it all, though, and notwithstanding the odd time or two I smilingly motherfucked him for being so goddamn smart, I was never jealous of his gifts, and there was never a moment of animus between us. The one time I remember getting into a verbal fight with him we both blurted out clumsy apologies to each other the moment we saw each other afterwards.
We spent hours playing together as kids, whereas our oldest brother Eric preferred his own company or the company of his friends. In many ways, especially when we're together, we act like twins do, finishing each other's thoughts and saying the same thing at the same time.
It's a private theory of mine that all geniuses are broken - that the cost to pay for tipping the scales so deeply towards smart is a certain emotional detachment - and I don't think Ross would disagree with the fact that this exists to an extent with him. I am 43 (or will be this coming Monday), and he is 44, and in our long time together we have hugged each other exactly once - at the old man's funeral. I find, despite the fact that we shared this epic sorrow (he was as close to Dad as I was; we both just loved him with all our hearts), that I can't lean on him for emotional support when Dad's ghost looms large and all is sadness. Not because he's deliberately unsympathetic; he truly doesn't understand how after a certain amount of time I can't just move on, like he did. No malice there, but no understanding either. That's just Rossy - I'd no sooner begrudge that than I'd begrudge his being right-handed. He's my brother, my confidant, the one person in my life who would stick with me to the very end, and no words could aptly describe how much he means to me.
I meant for this discussion of Ross to serve as a simple introduction because I wanted to repost a hysterically funny story he wrote about his house taking a shit on him, but I guess my fingers ran away with themselves. I guess I felt it important. If one of the purposes of this blog is to give you a little insight into my life, I suppose you need to know about Ross - he's that important.
Anyway, forthwith Ross's funniest prose. A little background: he bought an old house in North Adams, MA, and was trying to fix system-wide slow drains. Enjoy: