An Exclusive Interview with My Brother
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To mark my brother Tony turning 42 years old this week and in honor of those 42 years of being older than me, I will today delve deep into the psyche of the man behind the mask.
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AZ: Before we talk about anything else, I think it’s important that we clear this up first.
Would 1982-Tony prefer to be Spider-Man or would he have rather been a ninja with the keen ability to scale buildings just like Spider-Man?
T: With 1982-Tony, it was all about the cape. And Batman had the coolest one by far.
Spider-Man just had the best Underoos. Ninjas didn’t become vogue until 1985 or so. I’m pretty sure they didn’t reach the Midwest from Japan until then.
[Editor’s note: Ninjas arrived by boat to Ellis Island in 1984. Ninjas then rode in covered wagons across the Plains to where they settled in colonies somewhere near Waterloo, Iowa.]
AZ: Is my memory deceiving me? Did you once make homemade nunchucks and weld your own Chinese throwing stars?
T: Of course Dad didn’t let me buy throwing stars. But he did show me how to use tin snips and cut them out of sheet metal. They were pretty deadly, especially when the wind would catch them and they’d spiral out of control. It’s really a miracle I still have both eyes.
[Editor’s note: Tony has a scar on his arm from when he broke a light fixture on top of himself while practicing with homemade ninja weapons.]
I made nunchucks out of broomstick handles, wooden dowels, toilet tank parts, etc. I never played with them much because I always ended up hitting myself in the head or shins.
AZ: I’m impressed by your resourcefulness.
[Editor’s note: The following question contains secret intelligence never before revealed.]
AZ: My sources tell me you once received a ninja-shaped bottle of bubble bath from a female admirer, along with a note calling you her “sweet ninja.”
True or False?
T: WHAT? HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT!!?!!
. . . er, I mean, you must be mistaken . . .
AZ: Moving on. Please give me your take on why you called our father, whose name is Larry, by the name of “Billy” for a period of several weeks in the year of 1981 or thereabouts.
T: I thought the name was funny/obnoxious. You may remember he called me “Bo” for several weeks in 1986. Still sketchy on that one.
AZ: Ah, yes. How could I forget he called you that, Bo?
Okay, which of these foods would you rather eat on Thanksgiving? Great-Aunt Lela’s chicken and noodles served over mashed potatoes and thawed from the freezer the night before or Grandma Link’s orange Jell-O with submerged carrot shavings?
T: Huh. I thought you would’ve said apple salad with celery. I love my starch and meat, so the Yankee Doodle dish, of course. Minus the ice crystals.
AZ: Well I believe the apple and celery dish was also Great-Aunt Lela’s. Didn’t want to beat up on the old lady too much.
And speaking of beating up. Hypothetically speaking, which activity would’ve made you more likely to beat up on your sister? (A) Learning that she put her ear to the air vent while you were entertaining friends (and girlfriends) in the basement, (B) Finding out she had read all the saved notes that you were passed in school, or (C) Hearing her taunt you in front of your friends about your undying love for Diane, the Barker’s Beauty from The Price is Right?
T: Are you confessing those things? Somebody’s gonna hurt someone . . .
[Editor’s note: Tony used to sing the Eagles song “Heartache Tonight (Somebody’s Gonna Hurt Someone)” right before attempting to break off his sister’s limbs.]
Probably “C” if you taunted me in front of Mom. She wasn’t supposed to know I liked girls. That was my big secret, for some reason.
AZ: Oh yes. Now I remember that “C” actually happened and that it was in front of Mom. Wow, I must’ve been some kind of evil genius. I even amaze myself.
In growing up with me, which of the following things pissed you off more? (A) That I never had to work at Dad’s Ace Hardware store as much as you did, (B) That I got much better grades than you did, (C) That the house rules changed when you left for college, or (D) That I spent two hours in the bathroom applying eyeliner?
T: Are you getting smug with me?
A. Yes, no question. And when you did “work” you got paid, and I didn’t.
C. They did?
D. You spent more time in the bathroom than a bad odor. Sleep until noon, hit the bathroom for two hours, leftover mashed potatoes and gravy for a late lunch, and then Sis is ready to start her day.
D! OKAY? THE ANSWER IS “D”! ARGHHHH!
THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!
AZ: Will I see you at Thanksgiving?
[Editor’s note: The interview abruptly ended here after Tony yanked off his microphone clip and stomped out of the room. Our cameras followed him to a parking lot where he punched a cameraman in the face, jumped into his 1982 red Camaro and sped away, narrowly hitting a blind elderly woman who was using the crosswalk at that very moment.]
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Happy birthday, Brother.
The Brat Who Made You Look Good