Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Perfect One

"The Perfect One"..."The Golden Boy..."Mr. Wonderful." These are some of the nicknames that Matt and I so affectionately gave Jeff as we progressed through our childhood. I don't think he necessarily liked being called these names, but he sure did earn them. Look at him with his rock-hard abs and symmetrical face. His perfect ACT scores and his spotless driving record. How does one achieve this greatness constantly throughout his life? The answer is simple: as the youngest of three, he watches what his older brothers do and he takes notes. When I spent my sophomore year in high school grounded the entire time--literally--Jeff saw me sulking about the house and said to himself, "I'm not going to let that happen to me." When I blurted out to my father at the dinner table one evening "What's YOUR problem anyway??" Mr. Wonderful abandoned any pre-notions of doing anything similar upon seeing The Old Man reach across the table and snatch me up with nothing more than his index finger and thumb as if he were plucking a dandelion. And thanks to me, Jeff never got fired from any jobs or ended up in jail. I can't speak for Matt, but I'm sure he has his own crosses to bear.

Jeff has always been a real dynamo. He sees what he wants and he goes after it. During high school, he found the time to perfect the guitar while leading the elate South Fighting Falcons to football victory. Part-time indie rock virtuoso, part-time football captain? Yes. And with this he ended up doing what had not been done too many times before: he bridged the wide gap between the jocks and the indie rock kids. He brought them together because he was equal friends with both sides. I've always admired his ability to see his goals in tunnel vision and with such drive as to not let any outside barriers get in his way. This drive took him all the way to Arrowhead Stadium during his senior year to play in the Kansas All-Star game. He was the only player who represented elate South High School on that day.

As I grew older, I began to see Jeff as more of a friend than anything else. This was evident six years ago when I asked a close friend to be the best man in my wedding instead of Jeff. I don't think Jeff thought anything about it, but he was the one who went from helping the best man, to actually taking over the best man duties, over the duration of the wedding planning. If it weren't for Jeff, I wouldn't have had my bachelor party. If it weren't for Jeff, I wouldn't have had any help during the reception since my best man decided to ditch us after dinner. Not declaring Jeff my best man always seemed like a mistake to me, but it was confirmed after the night of the wedding. But then it was too late. If you look at the program from our wedding day, there's another name listed next to "Best Man," while Jeff is reduced to "Guy Standing Behind Best Man," or whatever the title is.

I realized that Jeff was, indeed, the best man. "Officially" or not. There was no doubt about it. I told him this soon after the wedding. Jeff just shrugged and said "it needed to be done and I did it for you. It was my pleasure," then he changed the subject to music. For the past six years, I carried this regret around with me. I wanted Jeff to realize that, not only was I grateful for what he had done for me, but I wanted nothing more than to turn back time so that I could officially give him the job, in title, that he ended up with. I always wanted to repay him, and I got my chance this past summer when he asked me to be his best man at his wedding. I was not only honored, but grateful at the chance. If he hadn't have asked me, that would have been okay, just as it was okay with him six years ago. But as it happened, I was given the chance to make things right.

Over the past several years, we've grown much closer. And so much has happened in the past twelve months. The birth of Audrey, Jeff and Gaby getting married, my trying to find work, and more family-oriented issues. It makes you realize how special your family really is. And it makes you thankful that you have a sibling who just happens to be your best friend.

Happy birthday.

4 Comments:

Anonymous 'sawblade said...

Hey man, rock on. I really appreciate all of this, and am deeply honored to occupy so many paragraphs on The Blog. Thanks for all the kind words.

I think the following words really sum it up best:

"It was a black Ford Taurus with a sun roof and a SPOILER."

See ya tomorrow night!

14 December, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Stef. You're a great guy and my kids love you. It's a pleasure being your big brother.

'ier

16 December, 2006  
Anonymous Mom Teel said...

You're right, Mark. It made me cry. I promise to read your blog more regularly. Happy belated BD, Steff.

Love you!
Mom

22 December, 2006  
Anonymous pops said...

That's the car on the Colorado trip that I sunburned the top of my head. The first time I realized my hair was thinning. Haven't been right since. I'm proud of all 3 of our sons, and Mark you did learn the best way, you just alway's had to try your way first. That's okay we all love you just the way you are, because that's Marky Lyn's way. Happy Birthday to you both.

your ol man

22 December, 2006  

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