My brother Alex has arrived Saturday morning and we are now having lunch. We’ve caught up on all the niceties and when the food arrives I fuss with the plate of nachos, pulling at the corn chips and teasing the melted cheese.
“I know this is always a little weird, us meeting.”
Alex looks up.
“It’s not really weird,” he says, holding up a chip. He’s lost in thought for a second. “Okay, maybe a little. One day I get told I have a long lost older brother. I guess that’s a little weird.”
I nod and let this gravity of the moment settle.
“We’re always on best behaviour because everything’s so new. Really we should be as rude as possible. Swear more often. That’s what other brothers do.”
“That will probably come in time,” he notes stoically, picking up half of a duck wrap and taking a bite. I’ve noticed Alex doesn’t like making eye contact. There’s an obligatory flicker when he’s answering a question, but it’s only when I’m focused on something else that I feel him really look at me.
“So in the spirit of discovering the real me,” I continue, “there’s something I want you to know.”
I feel my mouth move and hear my voice, the words slightly muffled in my head. Both words are over so quickly and I think how every time I say them I’m surprised that there’s no crack of thunder, no unprecedented wind to snuff out candles, or at the very least the shrill cry of a thousand barren virgins.
There is, however, a slight pause as Alex processes this information.
“I guess that would explain why you never talk about a girlfriend.”
Bingo, I think. Get the boy a prize.
“And are you… okay with that?”
“Sure. I don’t really know any gay people but I’m not homophobic, so you don’t need to worry. It doesn’t really matter anyway.”
“Well… good. It matters to me that you know though.”
“But it doesn’t change anything.”
As we walk to the register to pay, I ask him if he’d like to nip to G.A.Y. bar for a couple of frozen daiquiris and maybe a cabaret show but I’m met with a disapproving look.
“Don’t push it,” he warns. And then playfully he shunts me with his shoulder, making me step ungracefully into the wall so that even the waiter standing aside holding a stack of dirty plates has to suppress a smile.