October 3, 2009

The driver's seat

My brother was here with his girlfriend for a time. He has his own condo in the building and shows
up for a week, a month, when the spirit moves him, when his airline has a deal he can’t pass up.
He regularly flies down and back for as little as fifteen dollars, round trip. I don’t know how he
does it. I passed it off as idle boasting until he showed me the printout. There it was: DTW to
RSF and back again. Fifteen dollars.

We watch a lot of movies when he’s here, and go out for Chinese, for ribs, for breakfast. For a
while we stopped exchanging DVDs after I got miffed at his taking umbrage with my lending a movie
to my neighbor Fran that he’d to lent me, even though he had just finished watching one that she'd
lent to me that I'd lent to him. Siblings have complex resentments and rules of engagement.

Movie night is at Chez Jeaux since I acquired the big flat-screen TV. Generally accompanied by
snacks by Jack. We had pizza for Palmetto and Adaptation, fried chicken for What About Bob? Beer
abounds. Neither of us quite trusts anybody who won’t drink with one or the other.

He keeps an Explorer at the condo, and insures it with some kind of discount policy that provides
ad hoc coverage when he’s here and uses the car. On the day they left I drove him and Linda to the
airport in the Explorer since my truck is, for all practical purposes, a two-seater. On the way
out he mentioned that the insurance on the car expired at midnight. So I kidded, “So I have until
midnight, huh? Maybe I’ll drive out to Miami after I drop you off.” He looked at me fake-askance.
“Yeah, Miami, or Naples... Fort Myers...” each city progressively closer to home. “Or Fort
Lauderdale,” I said. “I haven’t been there in a while.” Ironic laughter. But no sooner had I
returned to the condo, straight from the airport, and walked in the door, than my cell phone rang.
“So you got home alright...? What took you so long?”

“I stopped at Hess to fill up the car. I wanted a full tank before heading out.”

Ironic laughter. On both ends. I had no interest in driving to Ft. Lauderdale and back before
midnight, but since he'd had to check on me I couldn’t help letting him think I might. I was, for
this hand at least, in the driver's seat. Siblings have complex rules of engagement.