David lives in the desert on the edge of the Great Salt Lake. He is a poker dealer at a casino and drives a black Corvette very fast on the empty desert highways.
You may remember the beagle, Snoopy, from the Charlie Brown comic strip. Snoopy has a homeless brother beagle that lives in the desert, looks a little disoriented, wears a beat up hat and talks to saguaros. I think of Snoopy and his brother sometimes when I consider my own brother (right).
I remember a day in 1954 when we loaded into our father’s new Cadillac and drove out on Waters avenue in Tampa to see Bud and Juanita. Juanita was a Seminole Indian who was breastfeeding her tenth child. I remember the baby was about three and talking.
Bud and Juanita lived in a lonely patch of palmettos that has since turned into a highly industrialized area on a six- lane highway. They had prepared a feast of turkey, sausage and other delicacies. I remember a small puppy that ate scraps until its belly dragged on the ground. In the south we refer to an temporarily extended abdomen from overeating as “puppy belly”.
Bud was a carpenter who also raised turkeys to eat. David and I discovered that turkey excrement was in the form of hard little brown balls, perfect for our slingshots. We filled our pockets with turkey shit.
My brother did something to outrage me and locked himself in the Cadillac, rolling down the power windows from time to time to spit in my face. Then he rolled one window all the way down and captured my neck by quickly raising the window. He spared my life, so eventually we made peace and used the Cadillac’s power windows to slice watermelon. Our father was very irritated.
In 1966, David came to our wedding in Miami. My Jewish mother-in-law, who may have had too much to drink, asked me in a very loud stage whisper, "Have you been circumcised?"
After a moment's panicked thought, I pointed to my brother and said, "No. But my brother has." All eyes turned to him.
That was not my only gaffe at the wedding dinner. Asked to make a toast to the bride, I fell back on this old standby:
Here's to you
and here's to me
and may we never disagree.
But if we do, piss on you.
In that way of all history revisionists, we now agree that the last line was actually:
But if we do, I'll still love you.