I have a little brother. A really little brother, actually. He’s 11 years old. He looks exactly like I did at 11 years old. My friends call him “Mini-Me.” Technically, I’m old enough for him to be my offspring. And quite often, when out in public places, he is mistaken for my offspring.
One of these instances occurred in 2000, when he was just 5 years old, I took him on a personal tour of my newly-completed office. The governor of Rhode Island was present, and I made my brother shake hands with him. It was the perfect photo op for the guv, and flashbulbs lit up the room. Afterwards, the governor turned towards me and said, “that’s a great kid you’ve got there.” I thanked him.
Another time, I took my brother to the Boston Children’s Museum in an attempt to relive my childhood vicariously through my brother. When we got up to the ticket window, the cashier said, “one parent and one child?”
I sternly corrected him: “one guardian and one child, thanks.”
Over the holidays, I’ve started to notice that my brother is finally growing up. But he’s growing up a lot faster than I did. When I hung out with my brother, I found myself saying more and more: “when I was your age…”
In this age of Digital Cable, the Internet, and Paris Hilton, it’s hard to stay 11. When I was his age, the closest I had to those were Saturday Morning Cartoons, an 8-bit Nintendo, and a ball of string.
When I was his age, I was a pro at Super Mario 3. My brother thinks that game is lame, and he can kick my ass in Super Smash Brothers on his Gamecube. He also owns exactly four different video game systems, including 2 portable ones. My Playstation from college (also “lame”) is collecting dust in his dresser drawer.
When I was his age, IMing was just a glimmer in Steve Case’s eye. My brother can not only IM, but he also knows the abbreviations LOL, OMG, and even WTF. I suppose using WTF is preferable to using the actual word. I sure wasn’t allowed to drop the F-bomb in the house when I was 11.
When I was his age, I had no idea what pot was. Our D.A.R.E. program only spoke of drugs in generalities. On Christmas Eve, my brother came into the living room with a cooking pot on his head and screamed, “LOOK, I’M A POTHEAD!”
The older my brother gets, the older I feel. And you wonder why everyone drinks over the holidays.