As I remarked to Secret Agent Fred when I returned from Texas “This whole standing around waiting for my brother to die? Remind me not to do that again.” Mike died January 9, David Bowie went off on January 10 (perhaps you heard?), it hasn’t even been six months since my best friend Magda snuck out without my permission, and today is the fifth anniversary of R Man’s death.
Did I ever tell you about Mike? My brothers and I practically represented a template of sibling placement theory: Ed, the oldest, always the responsible, reliable, accomplished one, me, the baby, a princess convinced rules don’t apply to me, and Mike in the middle, affable, charming, and easy going. Also, oddly, the rebel bad boy.
He dropped out of high school and wound up in Vietnam as a Marine and then when he came back, drifted around kind of as a biker pot head. If the term “bench warrant” or “pistol whipping” ever came up in our family, you could be sure it was in relation to Mike. And then, boom, he turned respectable, a job, a family, the whole bit. The peninsula on Galveston Bay we grew up on had been home to a large group of pre-Columbian Indians and Mike evolved his fascination with the arrowheads and other relics of theirs he turned up over the years into an amateur career in archeology that eventually resulted in his papers in academic publications and a leader in the Houston Archeological Society. Also, he was very fond of dry sherry. Just what you would expect in a rough neck, Texas thug. Thug-lite.
The first time I ever got loaded, Mike supplied the pot. The first time I ever dropped acid, it was Mike’s. Mike took me to my first bar, a skeezy biker joint called the Oak Meadows Boogie Bar that would terrify me today. A clientele that looked like this was their first stop out of lock-up and me, who practically had “fag” tattooed on my forehead with tinsel fringe stapled over it, but because I was with Mike, I could not have been more welcome. Everyone should have a really good bad influence, I was just lucky Mike was mine.