Like most people in my family, my little brother has made lots of poor decisions. Some result in garden variety misdemeanors, leaving small life scars but reasons for future circumspection. Others leave more of a lasting impact.
Like the time he begged me for a ride, revealing on the way back that I had just participated in a drug deal. The breach of trust caused a much needed shit-storm. But he learned not to take family respect and honesty so lightly.
Other choices resulted in less learning.
Take his experience with Gianna, for instance. She was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, first coming across my radar as my older brother’s Dominican floozy. He was a champion contender and she was a recently dispossessed hanger-on, enamored by athletic prowess. It helped that she was also charismatic, self-assured and attractive.
All in a ghetto fabulous, diamond encrusted iPhone kind of way.
I recall watching a match where he brought his steady girlfriend and Gianna to the same bout. In other places at other times this would have been an awkward, unconventional arrangement. But in the urban reality of making character allowances for neighborhood personalities, no one looked at them askance as he paraded them around.
They spent a lot of time together. But try as she might, Gianna could never sink her talons very far into his skin. A long and comfortable association with violence and underhanded characters had lent him a perspective found absent in our younger brother.
It wasn’t long before my older brother’s lifestyle – and associated felonies – led him to an extended out-of-state stay courtesy of the federal government. Gianna expressed all the appropriate sympathies and even threw him a going away party.
If she hadn’t been so smart it would have been hard to keep her off the stripper’s pole.
And with a name like hers, would it have come as any surprise?
But as a wily, survivalist sort, she was not about to allow this setback to interfere with her agenda. Namely, that she be provided for by a man.
Cue the collective feminist cringe.
So she set her sights on my younger brother, yet possessing freedom. It was her cunning and ruthlessness pitted against his inexperience and naiveté.
He never had a chance.
A few weeks into the relationship and he was in love. She had moved into his apartment, claws tightening with each passing day. Before anyone could come to appreciate the gravity of the situation, she was driving his car and he was taking long walks every work day. Their place looked like a scene from an episode of COPS – beer bottles, dirty dishes and soiled laundry strewn about everywhere. Their relationship spiraled out of control, off-hand remarks quickly escalated into I-can’t-be-around-you-anymore type arguments.
It was fucking absurd.
And we told him so. We counseled tirelessly and had numerous interventions. But he was so hopelessly in love he wouldn’t listen to anyone or anything. It was pitiful; no amount of reasoning or fact checking would help him acknowledge the toxicity of the relationship. But there’s no dissuading someone in his condition.
Eventually, he made the worst mistake a person in his position can make and fathered a child with her. It would not be her first.
Latinas are such fertile myrtles.
If his intent was to salvage the ruins of their relationship, he was willfully ignorant regarding the ways of the world. Because while he was busy planting seeds in her belly, she was having an affair with another, wealthier – and substantially older – man.
This guy was old enough to be her grandfather. It was creepy.
And while all of this seems so brazenly one-sided, I can say in all Brady Bunch honesty that I don’t think he ever egregiously mistreated her. Sure, he made terrible choices and should have better anticipated the likely results. And he definitely shouldn’t have knocked her up. Even so, my partiality would make a poor arbiter of me. And if this debacle didn’t involve my own family, I’d find it hilarious.
I mean – I still do – but in a piteous sort of way.
After all, this is top notch reality TV material. Maybe I can convince a major network to showcase my family’s dysfunctionality for a profit.
Unfortunately, real life is often less dramatic. Certainly less scripted.
I wish I could say there was a happy ending with this story. That my little brother isn’t destined to a lifetime of penury due to crippling child support payments and the steep legal bills incurred to secure basic paternal rights. That he doesn’t feel the disgrace of his love and adoration spurned for a richer man. I wish his daughter wasn’t developmentally delayed. I wish he didn’t drink every day.
But more than anything, I wish he wouldn’t say that he feels too tired to keep going.