Joel’s brother, Dale, is the younger brother by seventeen months. He is my favorite brother-in-law. (He wins that title by default since he is my only brother-in-law. But, I also really enjoy his company.) Joel and Dale, even in adulthood, have remained lovingly competitive with each other. Dale, although younger, married earlier in life and had children in his twenties. Joel was 31 when we married which is a long time to irritate your younger brother with opinions on topics you haven’t yet lived, including marriage and children.
Joel, in our earlier days together, used to spontaneously spring gatherings upon me…always involving multiple people whom we would feed. He comes by the trait naturally as his mother can whip a meal for twenty together with no notice and graciously serve and entertain whoever appears in her house. Joel also loves to cook, and if you have ever come to our house you know he will feed you, and insist you eat seconds.
When Joel and I were engaged, and our early August wedding date was “this close”, Joel had cancelled our appointments to find the tuxes for himself and the groomsmen several times at the last minute by unexpectedly inviting people to the house. (I lived in the house that he had bought just before he met me– he did not live there until after we married.) We had rescheduled our appointment AGAIN for early Saturday afternoon…. for THIS Saturday afternoon.
And you know what is coming….yup, Joel sprung on me “I’ve invited my parents, sister and children, and brother, wife, and his family to lunch today. They’ll be here in a few minutes.” That would be nine people. I simmered.
Lunch was delightful and my soon-to-be in-laws were good company. But, my eye was on the clock. That appointment had to be kept. But, as lunch wound down, Dale said to Joel “The hay needs to be put up. Can you help us today?” Joel, obliviously, said yes. Now I had to speak up. In a measured tone I said “No, Joel will not put up hay today. We have plans today.” The almost in-laws took a collective sharp breath and scarfed down their last bites.
I closed the door as they scurried out the back porch door. As soon as the door closed, I really let loose. Hurricane Suzanne made landfall. I vaguely recall expressing that he could stand naked at the altar for all I cared at that point. And so on.
And then we heard laughter. Loud, hearty, guffaws coming from our family room. We walked into the family room and there sat Dale on our couch with one arm slung across the backrest! He managed to sneak back in so he could listen to explosion he knew was coming. I sputtered, “Dale Cook, this is not funny! And you don’t have the right to be here! Leave!” More laughter from Dale–the laughter of the younger brother delighting in the older brother’s uncomfortable situation. And, then his famous words–spoken as a long married man—-“I’m just glad it isn’t me for once!”