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Hyperion November 25, 2004

The Hyperion Chronicles

“Do you know Bidey-Man?”

#327 Achmed

On this day 26 years ago my mother decided out of the blue to have another son, and I can’t say I’ve had a happy moment since.

Achmed came into the world cute, and it only got worse. Have you ever had a younger brother who decided to grow up and be much better looking than you? It sucks! I know what you’re saying: it’s not a great accomplishment to be better looking than I, but he also decided to be better AT everything too. I ask you: what kind of person does this to their own brother?

First their were the academics. I had all this potential, but then wasted it (in fact: Wasted Potential is my Indian name). Not Achmed. Refusing to follow my lead as a good brother should, Achmed decided to make good on his potential, and graduated from a really great college. Grrr. Showing me up: that’s his whole life, I swear. Then he got a good job and made lots of money, and now he’s going to law school, so he can be a judge or possibly a minor god.

Of course you just know he does all this to make me look bad: making great friends, earning the respect of those around him, generally making the world a better place. Who could compete with that kind of pressure? I should have drowned him back when I had the chance, or at least sold him to Gypsies.

He could get away with anything. One time in Middle School Achmed snuck out of the house to go to a dance he was forbidden. It was one of those things where you have to take off your shoes, and in the course of the evening, his shoes got stolen. I figured he’d be locked in his room for six years, but somehow he talked his way out of trouble and got a new pair of shoes in the bargain! That boy could do anything.

He was forever stealing things. When we were really young, and shared a room, he would come crawl into bed with me on cold mornings to steal my body heat. (Reading that last sentence back, it sounds a little fishy, but you know what I mean.)

When I was ten I got my first deodorant (Dry Idea). I was very pleased with how grown up I was. Achmed just couldn’t wait to be grown up too, and so he used my deodorant! The effrontery! The cheek! The sheer gall!

Then there’s the famous Christmas tree incident, where he stole all my glory and left me with all the blame. I am too upset to talk about this right now (but more in December).

He’s also ten times better with the ladies; not just from being good-looking, but his style and grace. Readers of this column know me: I assume women should be so honored that they should get down on their knees and thank God they have the chance to talk to me. Achmed figured out a better way.

I learned this early. We were in the green house, and there was this neighborhood Lolita named Jocelyn. Was she ever a vision of ten year old loveliness (and before you call Johnny Law, I was 11, so quit gasping and read). Anyway, I had my sights set on her, only to find out she preferred (much preferred) the company of my little brother! Do you see what I’m saying folks? The guy was just a monster, and it hasn’t stopped. To this day there isn’t a single girl who wouldn’t like him better.

This includes our own family. One area where Achmed doesn’t excel quite so much is in communication. But even here he developed a nefarious scheme. By not calling all that often, when he does call or send a gift, mother can’t stop talking about it for 3 months. “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Last Mother’s Day he sent her Barbra Streisand’s Greatest Hits! I have still not forgiven him for this.

He would also steal the things I was good at and become better. I’d have an interest and BAM he’d be interested too. Like basketball—I used to beat him every single day. Then he decided to get quicker and faster and more coordinated and all that other stuff, and now he could smoke me all over the court.

The one time I think I got the better of him was when we were traveling from Ohio to Indiana with our grandparents. I came up with the all-time greatest joke (seriously: you’re going to want to put hot coffee down): “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the Stinky-Winky underwear factory.” I’m telling you it killed. My grandmother (a neutral audience) laughed like a hyena. Then Achmed tried to one-up me with this extremely lame “Change your Diaper please!” joke that was cracking up nobody. One of his rare misfires.

Strangely, it didn’t help any when he quit doing everything I did and started doing his own things; also excellently (I might bitterly add). It was bad enough when he was always trying to copy me, but now he was his own person. Who agreed to this? Where’s the justice?

Of course, It wasn’t completely one-sided. I got him back a few times. One night we were riding back from a movie, and it was late on this old highway. I had the brights on except for the odd car coming the other way. Achmed was used to brights that worked through the turn signal, but this was an older car, and there was a button on the floor, which he couldn’t see me press. The more times I did it the more consternated he became trying to figure out how. I finally conceived Achmed that the bright button was in the steering wheel, and I was turning them on by gripping the steering wheel extra tight. Good times.

There was also the time I black-mailed him for…well, maybe I better not go into that. We did have our own language though; that was pretty cool. We developed it young, to fight back. Our parents would speak Swahili around us (not realizing we understood a bit), and we needed our own way to communicate. We developed this highly sophisticated language that allowed us to communicate over 75 thousand words without ever moving our lips. Somebody should write a doctoral thesis on this.

The good times were hugely outnumbered by the bad. Did he appreciate me? No. Did he care about showing me up time and time again? Big no. Did he ever do anything that wasn’t selfish? I can’t think of any.

I’ll give you an example. A few years ago I got kind of messed up, and decided that this world was kind of boring, and to see what the next world would bring. I left my home to avoid complications and traveled to Florida (because if it’s good enough for old people to go there to die, it’s good enough for me). On the appointed night I made the mistake of calling Achmed to say goodbye.

That selfish brother of mine kept me on the phone for over six hours. He fed me all these lies and talked me out of my plan. Now every time I have a bad day I shake my fist and yell “Achmed!” (To make matters worse, for the next six months he’d try to guilt me into things by telling me, “I saved your life. The least you can do is bring me some pizza.” Okay, that actually didn’t happen, but I bet he would have done it if he’d thought of it.)

I guess what I’m saying is: these last 26 years have been pure misery. Why couldn’t I have gotten a brother who was uglier than I? Or dumber? Or more awkward with the gentler sex? Or not better in everything he tried? Why couldn’t I have gotten a terrible person to make me look better? Why’d I have to get the greatest guy there ever was? Yeah, I know: wonderful human being, but lousy brother.


November 25, 2004

Motto Explanation

When Achmed was 2, he asked my dad one day if dad knew Spider-Man, but being two, he couldn’t quite say it


Thanks to Jerrica for editing help

Thanks to Achmed…I guess


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