Lessons From A Redneck

October 21, 2009
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A thick and sour stench begins to beleaguer my nostrils, forcing my arm to become magnetized to my face in sheer defense against the horrid redolence. One by one I climb the smooth wooden stairs making my way towards my bedroom, while the fear that this awful odor might affix itself to my clothes and body is smacked upon me. Just as I round the corner and my room comes into view, so does my brother’s and the cause of this awful stink is revealed, but unfortunately it’s no surprise to me. His door is open. There isn’t a collection of dead animals or even a lot dirty clothes. It just stinks, and so does he. His dirty, greasy blonde hair sprawls out across his head and peaks over his forehead onto his equally oleaginous face. Mountains of acne expand across his face and sometimes actually give him the illusion of being sun burnt, even in the dead of winter. Cut-off plaid pajama pants cling to his bulky body as the frayed ends reach for the floor. His gut pulls forward over the waist of the pants as if trying to escape the confinement, while a camouflage t-shirt relaxes nonchalantly against his pale, milky skin. He isn’t doing very much, but seeing him sitting there is doing something in my mind that no one else will ever see.
My brother and I have the type of connection that instills shock in most people. There is always great disbelief in the words of those who find out that he and I are not only related, but siblings that share the same mother and father. The question asked by those who have just been fed the unforeseen information of the not only affiliation, but actual kinship between Heath Peters and Mallory Peters is more often than not: “Is he your half brother or step?” Simply because they are down right confused can’t wrap their mind around such a conundrum. The answer: neither. He is my full-blooded brother whom I have grown up with all my life. We come from the same people and we were instilled with the same values and rules. However, it is no secret to us, our family, or the world in general that we are not alike in any aspect of our lives- except for where we call home. Our looks, beliefs, interests, personality traits and well being in general differ tremendously, and that is something that has been known from the beginning. Some find it funny, hilarious actually, and think it’s a joke. It is not a joke though, it is straight up reality and what’s even more realistic is that if I didn’t have my brother, I wouldn’t have the extensive list of things I do not want to be, do, or become in my lifetime.

Laziness is something that I have lived with my entire life. I don’t mean to say that I am the slightest bit idle or lackadaisical, but that I have been living in the same house as a person who I would define as truly lazy. The number of ways this trait is displayed by Heath could string to the moon thirty three times and back again. It is something that has always eaten at my toes and bothered me tremendously, but being the younger sibling, what I thought obviously didn’t matter. The way he would camp out in front of the TV with a bowl of snacks on one side and his laptop computer on the other while watching some stupid adult cartoon, irritated me so much while growing up and even thinking back on it still makes me a little angry. Whether it was the lack of simple homework completion all throughout his schooling career or how he didn’t seem to care about the easy task of putting his own dirty dishes in the dishwasher, observing my brother choose not to take part in the smallest, most crucial tasks always dwelled up enough anger in me to create a world wide earthquake. I’ve seen so many places where Heath could have made not only his, but also the lives of others much easier by just doing at least what was asked of him and every time I see him choose not to, I am reminded exactly why I don’t want to be that kind of person. I refuse to be the individual who says no to even the smallest projects, just because it’s something I don’t feel like doing at the moment or it’s something I won’t enjoy. Heath’s overall dearth of ambition has inspired me to always take that extra step and also to be cognizant of the simple things I may pass on doing for no good reason.

One of the parts the bothers me the most about Heath’s laziness is that he is capable of so much more. He is an extremely intelligent person and has an opinion on everything. However, the way he chooses to put those beliefs out, with his condescending voice that barks his opinions out alternating each word with the f-bomb, makes him come across as dense, rude, and closed-minded. It disgusts me that Heath can’t find ways to state how he feels without using excessive swear words and saying that his opinion is the only one. After being around this unattractive behavior I have taught myself to always make a conscious effort to come across as open-minded and to state my opinions in the most respectful way possible. Heath has all the tools to be a smart, respected, well rounded person, but he chooses not to use them.

Whenever I drive past my brother riding his bike to or from work, I can’t help but feel proud of myself. As he pedals to his three hour a day job in his Carhart pants, logging boots and t-shirt, I wonder to myself if he’s really happy with the life he’s living. Although all of these issues are his own fault, barely making it through high school and having my parents constantly on his back can’t be easy to live with. As I wiz past maybe throwing up a quick wave to him depending on the day, I wish that he was a stronger, more successful person. Taking note of how he has slunk through life, barely making it through those benchmarks that should be celebratory by the skin of his nose, I know he must hold barrels full of regret and dissatisfaction. Hopefully one day I will be able to dispose a fraction of those tribulations by letting him in on my secret; I may act like I hate him, and sometimes I actually do, but if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be who I am today.

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