Oh, Brother!

So if you happen to be one of the fabulous five or so people who read my blog, you know that my humor is typically self-deprecating.  I try to restrain myself from poking fun at the people in my life, lest I be removed from any wills or get sued by my third cousins for slander.  But today an opportunity has presented itself with a certain individual and I have decided that I cannot restrain myself any longer.  Let me introduce you to my brother.

Matthew is 4 years younger than I and I’d say growing up we had the typical sibling relationship.  I was mean.  He would cry.  I hid all the good snacks from him.  He would cry.  I sang Debbie Gibson songs loudly in the car.  He would cry.  You know, normal stuff.

And then there is the not-so-normal stuff.   Like the fact that nearly all my childhood memories of my brother involve him being in some sort of injured state.  To say he was accident prone is the understatement of the year.

I don’t even remember how many times, just on our own little street, I would hear a crash, a cry, and then see my brother in a heap on the sidewalk next to his instrument of demise, be it a bicycle, skateboard, or large crack in the sidewalk.   “MOM!  MATTHEW’S BLEEDING!”  I would scream as I ran up the driveway, screen door slamming shut as I burst through the front door.  I think his entire head was stitched together by the time he was 10.

But those everyday injuries were nothing compared to the vacation injuries…my brother literally ruined every single trip we ever took.  Growing up, I thought it was normal for people to fill out an “incident report” at each place they stayed.

Let’s see, there was the time we went skiing in Minnesota and my brother put his boots on backwards.  Within two hours of us arriving our family was huddled in the infirmary listening to my brother being diagnosed with frostbite on both feet.  Putting an abrupt end to our epic Minnesota ski adventure.


Or how about the time we traveled from New York to California and he had not one but TWO hospital visits on our trip?  We were staying in Los Angeles doing the whole Universal Studios/Hollywood thing.  We were at the hotel pool and my brother and I were swimming as my parents lounged poolside.  Suddenly I hear my brother yell, “Mom!  Dad!  Watch this!” as he is standing on the side of the pool with his back to the edge.  He proceeds to do a back flip into the pool but didn’t jump far enough out and somehow ends up ramming his head into the concrete of the pool wall upon surfacing.

I remember seeing all the water around us just turn red.  My parents yank my brother out of the pool and people are giving us towels to stop the bleeding and there is just blood everywhere.  Someone says there is a hospital across the street and so the four of us take off on foot, with my dad carrying my brother in his arms, and proceed to run in our dripping wet bathing suits across Wilshire Boulevard to the hospital.  These are my vacation memories, people!




So my brother gets all stitched up and a couple of days later we head down to San Diego to see the sights.

And, I kid you not, this is what happens.  We are in the hotel room and my dad and brother are tossing around a nerf football.  Probably because we can’t swim anymore because Matthew has stitches in his head.   My dad throws the ball, my brother jumps and twists to catch it and suddenly he is down.  Whimpering on the ground.  And he cannot move his neck.  At all.   So guess where we go?   You got it…lucky us, we get to see the inside of yet ANOTHER California hospital.  Where they proceed to fit my 9 year old brother with a full neck brace.


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A couple of days later, outfitted with stitches and a stylin’ neck brace, we head off to the final stop on our West Coast adventure…Las Vegas.  Miraculously, I don’t remember my brother being injured in Las Vegas but he did get his stitches removed by our Uncle Charlie Darienzo, the best family doctor there ever was!



This blog is getting long and I’ve yet to get to the catalyst for this topic.  I wish I could say that this was a childhood quirk of my brother’s but unfortunately, his propensity for crazy emergency/medical situations followed him straight into adulthood.

I mean, I haven’t even touched on the time when we were teenagers and the Abramowiczs came to visit us in California and nearly everyone in the house was struck by a horrible 24 hour stomach virus over the course of the week.   But out of all of us that were inflicted, young and old alike, only ONE of us called 911 because he thought that he might actually DIE.



Or the summer we went to the Jersey Shore for a week and my brother got a piece of glass lodged in his foot our first day there and then proceeded to get stung by a jellyfish later that week.  A million people in the water and the jellyfish picks him.

Who can forget when he went on vacation to Hawaii with his wife and ended up with food poisoning (which would have been bad enough for a normal person) but no, my brother had to take it to the next level.  He passed out in the hotel bathroom from being so sick, cracking his head open on the marble floor in the process.  One staple gun to the head, two bags of IV fluids and 8 hours in the ER later, and the vacation was complete.

And the list goes on.  I mean, who gets rescued from drowning by a lifeguard on a FIRST DATE AT THE BEACH?  Yep, that would also be my brother.  Somehow the girl ended up marrying him despite that little misadventure.


Which brings us to today.   That same girl, my sister-in-law of 15 years, sent a video to our family the other day.  Of a situation that could ONLY happen to my brother.  My now 41 year old brother, mind you.

I will preface this by saying that one thing my brother and I have in common is that we are both germaphobes.   I’m quite sure neither of us has touched an elevator button or public restroom door knob in 20 years.  Well, apparently, my brother was at Whole Foods and needed an antibacterial wipe.   No big deal.  Can’t think of how many times I’ve popped one out of the box for a myriad of purposes.

What I have never done, however, is been legitimately injured doing so.  No, I have never gotten my finger so completely stuck in the top of an antibacterial wipes tub that after several failed attempts to dislodge it, I had to be completely surrounded by five Whole Foods employees trying to assist me.  For 15 minutes.  While my wife is filming through the window outside.  No, this is something that could ONLY happen to, you guessed it – my brother.



When I received the text and video, I happened to be standing at my daughters bus stop, waiting for the bus.  Picture a woman, standing alone, who suddenly starts laughing loudly and maniacally, over and over, legs crossed in an obvious attempt not to pee her pants.

Honestly,  I could keep going, but I think you get the point.   So here’s the part where, after making endless fun of my brother, I should probably say something nice about him.  Like the fact that if he didn’t have such a great sense of humor, I would never be able to publish this.   And the fact that, despite his “quirks”, my brother is incredibly kind, smart and funny…a guy that would give you the shirt off his back.  He would never take the shirt off your back, because, you know, germs.

And I would never actually tell my little brother this (I can speak freely here since he doesn’t read my blog, he only reads boring business articles) but since moving away from our families three years ago, he may just be the person I miss the most.  Life with him has always been an adventure and I hope we get to have some more one of these days, incident reports and all.