You may be surprised to learn that I was an obnoxious teenager. It's true. At thirteen I organized a group of friends to "perform" Weird Al Yankovic's "Girls Just Want to Have Lunch," followed by a rousing rendition of "Fat" for a ward talent show. Our "performance" (I use that term loosely. We were on a stage, but there was no talent involved.) consisted of screaming, flying food, pillow-stuffed clothing, and general mayhem. To add insult to artistic injury, I declared that the ward members who'd found the skit to be in poor taste were simply lacking a sense of humor. Surely there could be nothing wrong with my own sense of true comedy!
So, yeah. That was me at 13. Not exactly the kind of kid you want tagging along with your friends to the movies, huh? But that's where my brother Harvey* defies expectation. I remember the summer before his mission as full of outings with Harvey and his friends--picnics, parties, movies. Probably the most remarkable part of my tagging along was that I didn't realize I was a tagalong. I assumed everyone thought I was as cool as Harvey made me feel.
Fast forward a few years. I'm a freshman in college. I am, perhaps, more obnoxious than I was at 13. I wear the black and orange "bridesmaid" jumper Harvey had his friend make for me (the one Dad said he "wouldn't mind if I stopped wearing") as often as I can. I ride a big wheel around the housing complex. I talk a little too loud. But Harvey still welcomes me into his circle, which now includes his lovely wife, Pooka, and their hardworking baby, LaundryMan. We have many delicious and festive family dinners in their bright blue living room.
I take in more than food in that room. I watch Harvey, the first of my siblings to marry, forge a new family. I see his kind and gentle ways with Pooka and LaundryMan (and later Peter the High King). Although his coursework is demanding, he never lets it overshadow his commitment to being a husband and father.
Fast forward another decade. Harvey's family grows (and grows), but his commitment does not wane. LaundryMan and Peter the High King are followed by an entourage of equally brilliant siblings. I see them each display kindness, generosity, humor--learned, no doubt, from from a dad (and mom) who's had a lot of practice.
Of course, there's lots more to Harvey. Anyone who's met him knows he's smart. Scary smart. Freaky smart. Don't make the mistake of wondering aloud how something works, because he probably knows. Playing Balderdash with him is likely to be a mistake too. And while I'm issuing warnings, I should tell you that you shouldn't challenge him to a Russian dancing contest either. But if you want to learn something while you hang out with the cool kids, Harvey's the one to call. Cause he's got that down.
I love you, Harvey! Happy birthday!
*Names have been changed.