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I sat against on my bed, leaning against the wall. I was angry and had sought solitude in my bedroom. I needed to calm down before I hurt someone or something.
He just didn’t understand. He never had, I realized as I sat there. Sure, we might have lived in the same house since the day I was born, but he never really noticed me. I pretended he did. Oh, how much I pretended! I hoped that maybe his occasional glances at me were of pride and not disappointment like I often hoped.
My mom didn’t notice. She was too busy as a single mom raising two boys to have much time for either of us. I couldn’t blame her for being ignorant. She had too much to think about without me pestering her with my problems. I didn’t seek recognition from her.
I sought it from him.
I used to show him every test I got a perfect score on. I knew he wouldn’t accept anything less than perfect, but even then you hardly glanced my way. When I finally reached the age to figure out he didn’t care about grades, I stopped.
Then, I moved on to sports. I knew he liked to watch baseball when he finished his homework. So, I started to play for a local league. My team was The Spartans. I wasn’t very good at first, but I tried my hardest, and my coaches could see it and would help more than the other kids. I knew they probably shouldn’t, but I wanted to be the best. After three seasons, I was the best on my team, and I finally had the guts to ask him to the finals of the league, which my team was participating in.
The cable was out that day, I can remember. I think that was the only reason he agreed. He sat in the front row of the bleachers and watched me play. I was confident and play one of the best games I had ever played. I played shortstop that game and not a single ball that I was tall enough to catch got passed me, I don’t even know how many outs and double plays I made, I hit two homeruns and wasn’t tagged or thrown out, and I even made a slide into third base that even my coaches said was incredible.
At the end of the game, I was given the game ball. Our head couch, Ted, described my skills and determination with a voice that showed his pride. I looked him in the first row and noticed that he was glancing at his watch impatiently. Needless to say, the car ride was very quiet, and I went straight to the shower to clean the dirt and sweat off of me.
So, he wasn’t impressed by my skills or my brains. What else did he like? He started going out with girls. I decided I would get the prettiest girls to go out with me. He would have to be proud of me then.
I had earned a big reputation among other people my age. So, when I first asked out who I thought was the prettiest girl in the school. She didn’t hesitate in saying yes. (She was a year older than me too!) We had been going out for quite awhile before I took her home to meet my mom and him. At my request, we had his favorite, spaghetti. However, when we ate he didn’t even acknowledge my girlfriend.
He wasn’t impressed by her either. I really liked her, and I didn’t break up with her, but she eventually moved away. I was devastated. She had helped fill the hole where he wasn’t, but I had time to figure out a new way to make him be proud of me now. There had to be something.
Grades, Athletics, and Girls were out. There had to be something else he liked. He liked to play video games. I decided I would complete every single one of the games we had and unlock any cheats available.
I took me almost half a year to do this. We had a lot of games. I made sure he didn’t see me play until the last day when I was finishing the last bit of the last game we had. He glanced at me and the game system and said, “Hurry up. The game is coming on soon.”
I nodded in dismay and finished in ten minutes, still ending up with a perfect score and earning eight more points to my total score. I saved and turned off the game system. Then, I trudge away with my head down towards the kitchen. I really need to think what to do next if video games didn’t work either.
After about an hour, I had downed five glasses of milk, four hamburgers, used up a full bottle of ketchup, and had come up with my next plan of action. He really liked music, especially the guitar. So, I would learn to play the guitar and maybe get a group of friends together to make a band.
That’s exactly what I did.
I found music wasn’t that hard for me to understand. It wasn’t long before I had learned how to play and bought an electric guitar and I very nice amp. I got a few of my friends from my baseball team and one from around the corner, who I knew were good at one necessary instrument in a band or another, and asked if they wanted to start up a band. They all said yes, and so Noitaidar was born. (It’s radiation spelled backwards. I thought it sounded cool.)
We would write the lyrics to our songs together, Gabe would write the music for it, Kim played the keyboard, Ethan took the drums, Ronny played the bass, and I played the guitar. Gabe, Ronny, and I –after I figured out I was a good singer too– sang. Sometimes Kim or Ethan would sing too, but it was mostly just the three of us.
We became local celebrities in our neighborhoods. Our music was good and according to the school newspaper, ‘a band that will put our town on the map’. Just about everyone our age liked our music, even some adults. Once, Gabe’s older brother took along the one whose recognition I so yearned for to one of our shows at the biggest teen spot around. There were signs all along the doors and windows that said, ‘Tonight featuring Noitaidar! 8pm-10pm only ten dollars!’
Gabe’s brother loved the show and told Gabe that himself when it was over, but the one whose opinion really mattered had disappeared. I knew that he didn’t like it. He would have stayed and said something to me if he did. I would have to come up with a new plan.
Then, someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned. Maybe he really did like and returned? No, it was just some man with a Yankees hat on. That was my brother’s favorite team and mine as well. “What?” I asked. My voice sounded harsher than I wanted it to, but the room was loud. I don’t think the man noticed.
“You five really know how to play. Have you ever thought of trying to make it big?” He asked.
I stared at him. “What do you mean, sir?”
“I’m a music agent, and I think you guys have what it takes to be the best thing since the Beatles. How would you like it if I represented you and showed some of your music to some professionals and get you a record deal?”
Within a year, Noitaidar was known around the country, and even most of the world. We were called by the media, ‘the Noitaidar from Nowhere’. We liked the nickname. Kim said that it was the ‘truth after all, we did come from nowhere.’ The other guys and I always laughed when she said it. She always liked to take things at face value and not just see them as a joke.
I became used to signing autographs and doing interviews with my other band members. It was tons of fun, but there was always a piece of me still looking back to Nowhere. I wanted to see if he was watching me, if he was proud of me yet, if I had finally done what I wanted to do since I was a baby.
One day, I returned briefly to Nowhere. I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to say he was proud of me face-to-face. I was sure he had to be proud of me now. I knew my mom was. It was for him that I put in all that effort to do the things he liked. He would be proud of me.
I looked around when I arrived. The small town had grown since Noitaidar had become a name. It was our hometown, and all sorts of fans wanted to see it.
However, some things never change. When I reached my house, which I still technically lived in according to my drivers license, it was the exact same as it was before. The paint was peeling and half of the wooden gate was collapsed, but it was still home. Nothing drastic had changed on the outside.
My mom’s car wasn’t in the driveway, but his was. I could hear the baseball game blasting from the TV through the door. I knocked on it as loud as he could. He wouldn’t be able to hear me if I didn’t.
Moments later, he opened the old white wooden door. When he saw me, he went back onto the couch to watch the rest of the game. I walked in, closed the door behind me, and took a spot next to him.
“I’ve heard your pretty famous now.” He said, not taking his eyes off the game. It was against the Red Socks and the Yankees. He wouldn’t get distracted from it for a second.
“Yeah, what are you up to now? I thought you were going to college.” I said. I too was captivated by the game. He had morphed me into a baseball fan after all.
“I decided it wasn’t for me.”
“Oh,” was all I could think to say. “Have you heard my music?”
“I think everyone in the place has all your songs memorize.” He stated bluntly.
I sighed at his stupidity. “What do you think of it?”
He shrugged. “It’s ok I guess.”
“Just ok?” I slouched in dismay, even now after all of the fame I had. I only was, ‘ok’. I wanted to punch something, but I held it in.
“What do you expect me to say?” He said.
I stood up in frustration. “Why is it so hard to please you?” I shouted. “Even now, I’m just the ok little brother. I’ve done so much, and all I’ve ever gotten from you is an ok. I’m sick with it!”
With that, I stormed out of the room and up to my bedroom, which is where I am now. Here I am, the famous guitarist of Noitaidar, having a temper tantrum in my room. I am someone so many looked up to. I bet they wouldn’t look up to me if they knew what I’m doing. I’m almost nineteen years old. I shouldn’t be having tantrums anymore.
I just sat on my bad to cool down. Eventually, I heard his footsteps coming up the creaky stairs. I didn’t turn towards the door. I didn’t want to see him walk passed my door like I didn’t exist. It would be too much to deal with at the moment.
“Do you really think I’m that hard to please?” He asked from the doorway. I didn’t know he was there and had to force myself not to jump in surprise.
I didn’t respond to his question. I didn’t feel like he deserved an answer. I had finally come to the conclusion that my older brother was completely indifferent to me, and it hurt me. I didn’t know something could hurt like it did.
I heard him sigh and walk into the room. “I didn’t realize how I acted around you, forgive me?”
I still didn’t respond or even face him.
“You know how you look a lot like our dad right?” He paused and continued when he didn’t get a response. “You probably don’t remember him all that much, but when he left mom I asked him to take me with him. He said to me that he would never bother with such a failure and that he would never dream of taking me with him.”
I tilted slightly so I could see part of him. He continued speaking. “When I look at you, the only thing I see is him and the only thing I hear what he said to me. It hurt, and I didn’t want to be hurt. I started to avoid you as much as possible and not let you so I wouldn’t be reminded of dad.” He took a deep breath. “I just don’t want anyone to hurt me anymore.”
I turned and looked at him fully. “That was years and years ago. How can it still bother you?”
“The same reason it still bothers you that I’m so hard to please.” He stated. I noticed his eyes were red. Gosh, I really had no clue what was going on in his head. He spoke again. “Will you forgive me, little brother, for all the things I have done against you? I promise I will do better.”
“I forgive you. Will you forgive me for not understanding?”
“It’s ok, little brother. You couldn’t know.”
There was silence for awhile. “Can we get back to the game? I want to watch it. It’s going to be awesome. I hope the Yankees win again.”