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An Exclusive Interview with My Brother

October 24, 2012

Happier days. Photo was taken before this interview.

* * * * *

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.

* * * * *

Does anyone know this person? I do. Soon you will, too.

* * * * * * * * * *

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.

Perhaps a cape to cover up would’ve done you well here.

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.]

You might as well kill me right now.

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?


. . . 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.

We miss Great-Aunt Lela. But not her apple salad.

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.

No, your “big secret” is that you had a mullet. Shhhhhhh.

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?

Is it any wonder that our parents loved me best?

T:  Are you getting smug with me?

A.  Yes, no question.  And when you did “work” you got paid, and I didn’t.

B.  Meh.

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.



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.]

* * * * * * * * * *

Happy birthday, Brother.  


The Brat Who Made You Look Good


78 Comments leave one →
  1. Jesse permalink
    October 24, 2012 6:16 am

    Ha! I would send him a hand fashioned Chinese throwing star for his birthday but I just got taken off the no fly list and would like to keep it that way for a little while. ;)

    • October 28, 2012 9:40 pm

      Oh, wow. It’s probably a blessing that you two moved away from each other before you reached junior high. I’d be shocked if the feds don’t have files on you guys.

  2. October 24, 2012 6:20 am

    Absolutely love it. There’s nothing like a doting sibling. :)

    P.S. I sure hope Tony left that mullet in the 80’s….. lol


  3. October 24, 2012 6:37 am

    I think what I love most about this post, aside from the obvious affection and the fact that you haven’t killed each other yet, is the fact that Tony finally changed out of that turtleneck! Happy Birthday, Tony!

    • October 28, 2012 9:42 pm

      It’s true! He did wear other clothes besides plaid pants and turtlenecks! Does the Under Dog costume count?

  4. October 24, 2012 6:39 am

    Awwww…This made me nostalgic for the olden days with my big brother when he used to drop pennies on my head from the upstairs landing and kick me so hard in the stomach it would knock the wind out of me. Tony’s song choice before beat down was brilliant. My brother gave no warning before inflicting pain.

    • October 28, 2012 9:53 pm

      Yes, adding in a warning song does seem to bring a layer of compassion to the torture. He also used to sing “Don’t Stop Believin'” when I’d beg him to stop the waterboarding.

  5. October 24, 2012 7:01 am

    I have a 1963 model of that brother.

  6. October 24, 2012 8:45 am

    Oh, man, I’ve been trying to get an interview with Tony forever…

    And I feel bad for any Gen-X’er who didn’t have a mullet in the 80’s, or parachute pants, or a Madonna outfit. It’d be like being a Boomer and saying, “Nah, I didn’t go for any of that long hair or tye-dye stuff.” You missed it!

    • October 28, 2012 10:01 pm

      I remember my brother once getting his mullet permed. What about that?! Mullets + perms = arghhhh! Men with perms. Men sitting in salon chairs with little rollers in their hair. Men buying wide-toothed combs to keep their curls in tact.

      You know how they say that if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there? I think the ’60s should’ve loaned the ’80s their drugs to help them forget about their mullet perms.

  7. October 24, 2012 9:46 am

    Very nice, sis. Now I’ll patiently wait by the mailbox for that check you promised…

    • October 28, 2012 10:04 pm

      I thought we agreed that your payment would come in the form of noogies?

      • October 29, 2012 8:27 am

        Fine. I will deliver that assorted box to you at Thanksgiving. Along with an original set of indian burns.

  8. October 24, 2012 9:50 am

    My brother is younger than me. He didn’t realize (as you did, you precocious thing) that the younger sibling could ALSO do the tormenting. He thought it only worked the other way. Ha Ha on him!

    • October 28, 2012 10:05 pm

      I was pretty damn good at it. I could’ve taught your brother a lot about being the youngest.

  9. October 24, 2012 9:52 am

    Hahaha! Love it! Happy birthday, Tony!
    I was the oldest sibling and got so irritated that the little bro got spoiled so much too. :)

    • October 28, 2012 10:06 pm

      Thanks, Audrey! You oldests should form a support group!

  10. October 24, 2012 9:58 am

    My older brother will be 42 in December. I am the obnoxious little sister too. Did you guys have the invisible line in the center of the backseat that could not be crossed lest you lose a finger? We did. I crossed it.

    • October 28, 2012 10:41 pm

      How cool is that coinky-dink? Yes, the invisible line was drawn down the center of the backseat in our car as well. Thank goodness no one enforced car safety back then because we also had the back of the station wagon to sprawl out in.

      • October 29, 2012 6:24 am

        We rode on long trips in the back of a pickup with a mattress in the bottom and a topper on top.

  11. October 24, 2012 11:39 am

    I love that mom wasn’t supposed to know he liked girls.

  12. sheenaeastonwannabe permalink
    October 24, 2012 11:54 am

    So great! Made me miss my brothers.

  13. October 24, 2012 1:32 pm

    Angie, you are the best!

    Looks like you and your brother have the same sense of humor gene for sure! Of course, your humor only makes your brother’s humor look good…

    So funny! :) :)

    • October 24, 2012 1:35 pm

      Lord help me. It’s so true!

      • October 24, 2012 1:53 pm

        Ahhh, you must be the big brother then, lynx? It’s ironic because my brother used to play with nunchucks and pretend he was a ninja too…only he got lucky and scored real nunchucks from somebody. Vaguely, I remember reading a ninja magazine (seriously) and seeing a pink girly ninja. I thought she was stupid because by wearing pink all the other ninjas would be able to spot her right away. Dead Pink Ninja. Dead Dumb Pink Ninja, actually.

    • October 28, 2012 10:36 pm

      Thank you! Yes, he appreciated this comment way too much. I don’t know about my brother, but I think I will sleep better tonight knowing there are pink ninjas on patrol somewhere.

  14. October 24, 2012 2:20 pm

    Is it weird that I got REALLY excited when I saw the title of this post? I’m currently fixated on the apple salad and the ninja bubble bath bottle, but give me a moment and I’ll move on. Nope. Nope. Not gonna happen.

    It seems pretty obvious to me that your parents love you more. You got paid to work, and Tony got sheet metal to play with.

    • October 28, 2012 10:33 pm

      That’s okay, Jules. You’re only human. Upon learning about its existence, few will ever forget about the ninja bubble bath. Including me. Who has had that mental image stored away for a rainy day since 1992.

  15. October 24, 2012 6:21 pm

    I managed to completely suppress any memory of the existence of Jell-O salads for many happy decades until I read the words “orange Jell-O with submerged carrot shavings.” Now, I have to live with memories like these: Again. Probably forever this time.

  16. October 24, 2012 7:01 pm

    Oh my God, Angie! I am DYING here. Too much to say in a comment. Perhaps another means of communique. But for Tony, Happy Birthday, you old man!! The next years only get better (like a good single malt Scotch). I won’t miss those traditional what-the-heck-combination-is-that dishes at Thanksgiving (I won’t be missin’ the turkey either, now that we’re vegan).

    Two words and I’ll quit, Angie. Fresh. Pressed.

    • October 24, 2012 10:35 pm

      Shannon, do you go around to all the blogs throwing around words like “Fresh” and “Pressed”? You told me that once, and I thought I was special.;) (Not that Angie doesn’t deserve to be fresh and pressed for the bazillionth time.)

      • October 25, 2012 5:28 am

        LOL Oh, Rachel. I’m STILL waiting for that pepper post to be FP’d. Really I am. I am super-pissed at FP for not recognizing some really choice (and hard to beat) posts like this one. The past few months, I feel as if the FP Gods have gone crazy mad. I’ll bet I’ve clicked 5 FP posts in as many months.

        Your pepper post was my all-time favorite post of yours! Believe me, watching you on that video, I was ALSO in tears. And not just for laughing. (Shh. Don’t tell Angie. I don’t want her to get a complex.)

      • October 28, 2012 10:23 pm

        No, she doesn’t throw those words around! I swear! I mean nothing to her, Rachel! It’s all about you and those peppers! It’s all she ever talks about! You think I’m joking and I’m not!

    • October 28, 2012 10:26 pm

      Thanks, Shannon. You’re too good to me.

      Your Thanksgiving will be much less adventurous this year without the church basement potluck dishes. C’mon, dump a can of fruit cocktail into a bowl of Jell-O just for old time’s sake.

    • November 2, 2012 2:57 pm

      Okay, it’s been a week and I’m still waiting. I’ve check FP every day, Angie! In the meantime, I’ll find a Jell-O substitute (gelatin’s a by-product of *ahem* “the industry”) and throw some fruit cocktail (full syrup, extra cherries!) for old time’s sake.

  17. October 24, 2012 9:15 pm

    This is genius. Truly. Toilet tank parts?? “somebody’s gonna hurt someone?” A mullet that rivals even the mulletiest mullet of them all, Joey on Full House? Bravo, Angie. Bravo. I only wish I could pull off a tribute that’s reeking of years of pent-up payback to one of my brothers. Happy birthday, Tony!

    • October 28, 2012 10:22 pm

      Toilet tank parts — you know your brothers would’ve made their own nunchucks had they thought of it while dunking your Barbies in the bowl. We need to say some words of gratitude that our brothers never got together for a meeting of the minds.

  18. October 24, 2012 10:32 pm

    I only have one thing to say and it has nothing to do with your epic writing skills and clever wit: you are adorable in your striped sweater. I only like you for your looks.

    • October 24, 2012 10:34 pm

      Thanks Rachel. I’ll try to wear my striped sweater more often. ;)

    • October 28, 2012 10:18 pm

      I have no real skill set to offer the world, but I am very talented at wearing stripes and not looking like an inmate. I’m told I have an innocent face.

  19. CLA permalink
    October 25, 2012 6:45 pm

    To T: Happy Birthday!!

    To AZ: Two hours applying eyeliner or fake eyelashes??

    • October 28, 2012 10:15 pm

      Fake eyelashes? When did I wear those? Oh, you must mean the old eyelash curler that I spent three years of my life fondling in the morning before high school.

  20. October 26, 2012 8:33 am

    Too funny – so reminenscent of my relationship with my bro. BTW.. he looks like a young Noah Wyle in the pic by the drafting table – maybe telling him that would help??? Big brothers love ’em hate ’em… it all comes around in a good way in the end. ;)

    • October 28, 2012 10:13 pm

      Aw, that’s cute. My brother would appreciate that comparison. Except that he’s my brother so I have to make him think he looked like a stupid jerkface.

      • October 29, 2012 8:23 am

        Now I actually look like the older, bearded “Falling Skies” Noah Wylie. But my sis, being the liberal little minx that she is prefers seeing me as Jon Stewart. My friends think I’m a cross between espn’s Mike Greenberg and Doug Gottlieb. Of course, everyone is wrong. I most resemble Brad Pitt.

  21. October 26, 2012 8:34 am

    Oh P.S. LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEE the Underdog costume – such a prolific character – oft-forgot

    • October 28, 2012 10:13 pm

      A few years ago, my mom bought my brother an Underdog t-shirt (red with a white “U”) to remind him of this costume.

  22. October 26, 2012 12:54 pm

    That mullet picture takes me back to a time of innocence. A time when mullets, acid wash jeans and pink & aqua striped shirts were all the rage. A time somwhere in th 80’s. Ahhh, thanks for that.

    Happy Birthday to your (former?) brother. This is a great idea. Although I shudder to think what an epic failure an interview with my brother would be. Since he’s crazy and all. Hmmm, possibly good blog fodder, though . . .

    • October 28, 2012 10:11 pm

      Go for it! If your brother also received a ninja-shaped bottle of bubble bath, I think you owe it to the world to share this.

      The mullet may take you back to a time of innocence, but I’m sure you’ll agree that there was nothing innocent about a mullet. And why did the mullet seem to pair so perfectly with a light peach-fuzz mustache?

  23. Emily permalink
    October 28, 2012 8:28 am

    The last part never happened, did it?

    • October 28, 2012 10:07 pm

      Of course not. My brother sold his Camaro a long time ago.

  24. November 5, 2012 6:28 pm

    Enjoyed your blog! Families are great:)

  25. November 20, 2012 9:11 am

    My dad also had a hardware store. This post made me nostalgic and really hit home.

    • December 2, 2012 9:46 pm

      Aw, I have a special bond with those poor kids whose dads owned hardware stores. My parents almost made the store into a roller skating rink instead. You have no idea how much that “almost” haunted me as a kid.

  26. December 10, 2012 4:37 pm

    Love the walk down memory lane with your brother! The pictures are priceless! Very funny.

  27. March 5, 2013 10:20 pm

    Brilliant!! I can’t believe I missed this! I was planning on doing interviews with my family “Daily Show” style. Not sure I can top yours though.

  28. March 6, 2013 6:55 am

    Love this one! My older brother is about the same age as yours and the dynamic seems very much the same. I wrote a post about my big brother last year titled “My Big Brother, Tales of Younger Sibling Survival” (

    Now my whole comment looks like a thinly veiled attempt to get YOU to read MY blog, which I guess it is a little bit. But the BIGGER bit is that I totally identified with this and I especially love the “Somebody’s Going to Hurt Someone” song Tony used to sing when the beatings commenced. I’m still giggling about that!

    My own brother used to dedicate the song “Eat my Shorts” to me and make me cry. Do you remember that one? It might have been a regional hit.

    Your blog is always funny. Good stuff!

    • March 24, 2013 8:58 pm

      My brother used to use firecrackers to blow up anthills. I thought that seemed inhumane. Your brother sort of kicked it up a notch.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing this great post, Steph.

  29. Kim permalink
    October 25, 2015 4:50 pm

    We go to church with Tony. So nice to know these details for future blackmail… I mean persuasion on future board meetings!

    • October 25, 2015 9:07 pm

      Ooh, this was written three years ago…I love that it lives on and still has the potential to do some damage, much like an aging ninja.


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