Reason #724: I’m ungrateful.
Youth is no excuse, but if I’m standing before St. Peter and he asks, that’s what I’m going with. I was young, and stupid hadn’t worn off, yet. (Sure, I’ve done many stupid things since then, but I’m working on other excuses for those moments. I’ve got time, right?)
I was 20 and feeling a bit inadequate. Not that I had reason.
My brother majored in defending the world. Me? Radio.
He chose West Point. I aimed just a touch lower.
On trips home, he wore perfectly tailored, status-elevating dress uniforms with buttons so shiny they could power small towns. I wore radio station T-shirts adorned with liquor store sponsorships.
He was Captain America, I was Mr. Microphone.
But this story isn’t about how I viewed my brother. It’s about how I viewed my parents. (Psychologists, amateur and otherwise, will see a third option.)
From my view, my parents were proud of my brother, and indifferent to me.
Not that I didn’t have evidence.
Upon his college acceptance, our house morphed into a shrine to all things West Point. Conversation became Army centric. Eventually, the postal service established a virtual home office in our living room to handle the onslaught of care packages from our house to The Academy.
Army-Navy day was immediately upgraded to prime holiday status, below only Christmas and any Imo’s Pizza delivery.
A return trip by my brother was akin to a Papal visit.
Lest you think I’m a total clod, I was proud, too. But, I was also looking forward to star treatment when I left home. And, when it didn’t come, I was disappointed.
There were no life-size portraits of me wearing headphones. No tape recorders hung on the wall with descriptive plaques.
In my mind, I was being slighted.
And, for some reason, the sweatshirt became my focus.
I could have chosen anything. My dad had seventeen Army hats, my mom five pairs of USMA sweatpants. But it was the sweatshirt disparity that I decided had to be resolved.
So, one day, I decided to make a stand.
“Why don’t you own a single sweatshirt that represents my college?”
The question was direct. The message implied.
Now, my parents could have answered with a single sentence. “I guess we’re too busy working double shifts to pay for your college.”
It would have been a show stopper.
But, they didn’t.
Instead, they handed me 60 bucks and charged me with finding the perfect sweatshirt to display their pride.
I promptly spent it on Imo’s pizza.
Have a burning desire to tell me I'm not a horrible person? Drop it in the comments below.