Brothers: Best Friends, Worst Enemies and the Greatest Inventors 

​Brothers are best friends and worst enemies… strongest ally and biggest rival. I know… I have one, I live that so called “sibling rivalry.” I’ve made him eat dirt and thrown him through a wall (literally through) and he broke my nose. I also would want him by my side if there was something going down (unless Chuck Norris or Conor McGregor were available). Now I get to watch two brothers play this game of sibling chess from the outside looking in. 

Everyone gave the warnings, “expect the worst. Jax is going to regress, he’s going to be full of anger and jealousy. He’ll be completely uninterested in the baby… he won’t understand the change. The first time they meet Jax might hit him.” 

There were nerves all around that day in the nursery. We set the meet and greet up w caution and care. It was like setting your best friend up on a blind date. “Dont worry, it’ll be great, he’ll totally get you!” “You guys will hit it off right off the bat.” “Just be yourself and it’ll all be fine.”

Rewind 30+ years ago… I’m told I didn’t handle the situation very well. My little brother didn’t get such a warm welcome upon his entry into this world. But that was short lived. We enjoyed a ton of fun, experienced many life altering situations and caused/got into our fair share of trouble. From snake attacks, to the steam roller, to the babysitter who sprayed potpourri everywhere, enduring bringing home another sibling… this time a sister, to pillow wars on thanksgiving resulting in vomiting turkey and stuffing everywhere… to running the courts in the Bronx with the “neighborhood ‘friends’ who carried knives”… to car clubs and booming systems and holding each other’s blocks at the starting line and winning gold and setting hurdle records togethercollege roommates… well that’s another story. Let’s just say a Britney Spears poster, a comforter and a gallon of spackle saved us a lot of money that year. However, I’m pretty sure the best thing to come out of our relationship was the invention of the Olympic pending sport “All Out Basketball.” Imagine living in the northeast where winter pretty much kills the idea of playing basketball on outdoor courts… even with a shovel and some ice melt… there no way to have a “real game.” Dribbling is impossible, there’s no traction and the backboard can shatter with one erratic shot. 

Enter… ALL OUT BASKETBALL. A basketball based, rugby, football hybrid. It’s designed for icy backyard courts and is best played when wearing boots and 14 layers of clothing. It allows the competitors to combine the best parts of all three sports and is perfect for brothers because of its violent nature. No dribbling and a hoop low enough to dunk like you were Vince Carter in his early days (NOTE: Just for clarification… I could dunk on a 10 foot rim too). The game was played on a shotty shoveled outdoor court and competitors benefited from a slightly deflated ball (we were the Tom Brady of the neighborhood) and often resulted in ripped snow pants and fractured limbs. But it was fun… and Vinny and I are still holding out hopes the IOC will adopt it for the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Fast forward, back to February 2017… a dimly lit nursery on a cold and snowy (ironic) day. Jackson carefully selected a present for his new little brother and partner in crime. Although his first choice of a Sudoku book, was not the best pick… the blue puppy stuffed animal was perfect. He repeated, “Me hug, kiss baby Ollie.” The whole way down the hallway and up the elevator… although he had time to spell his name and count to ten for the lady who didn’t think he could find the D button for her on the elevator.  

Honestly, I’m not sure who was more excited me the first time I met Rickey Henderson or the first time Jackson met his brother Oliver. The look of excitement and honestly… the look of love was immediate (I say love because I want to believe it was love and not the look of trouble). Jackson presented Ollie with the stuffed animal he picked out and Oliver gave Jax a present too… a recycled Christmas gift that Santa had left behind… an Olaf talking figure. It was love at first sight, and he liked Oliver too. 

The meeting wasn’t long, it didn’t need to be. It was the perfect amount of hugs, kisses and questions. Jackson talked about Oliver the entire ride home, all night and all the next day until he got to hug and kiss baby Ollie again. Jackson met his new best friend and Oliver met his new body guard. As a dad you can’t ask for much more. 

Here’s to hoping these two invent something together as cool, if not cooler, than “All Out Basketball!”

Run Fast, Turn Left, Be First

 

Perfect leg turnover

Imagine your worst nightmare and now imagine your best dream… Now overlap them and that’s the perfect analogy for running. If you’ve ever played a sport you know the worst part of every practice was the last 30 minutes or so… Because you had to run.

So it makes perfect sense that I would decide to chose the sport where you literally only run. I mean you literally just run. That’s the actual sport… The worst part of every other sport is actually a sport in its own right.

And I loved it. I loved every second of it. And I hated it. I hated every second of it. I guess that’s true love? Fall in love for not the good parts that make you happy, but fall in love for how happy you are even during the bad parts.

I can’t wait to be able take Jax out on the track for the first time. I’m excited to hurdle with him… At least until he can beat me… Then it’s really time to retire.

Run fast, turn left, be first.

Ohh Ffffudge!!

Flat tire? Forget it... I'm just buying a new car.

Flat tire? Forget it… I’m just buying a new car.

What happens when you are already as manly as they come and you then have a son?  Well you pass all that manliness right on to your son that’s what.  You teach him to do manly stuff… How to fight off a hungry bear, how to start a fire with sticks… And of course how to change a flat tire.

Well I clearly poses all those abilities (none of them)… A MAN’S MAN as I’m so often (never) called… Ok let’s be real… I’m pretty sure Jax is more manly than I am. I’ve seen him fall and smash his coconut on the corner of the fireplace hearth and get up without so much as a whimper.   I have no problem admitting when a one year old is more of man than I’ll ever be and that’s precisely the case here. Watch me fall and smash my dome and there’s not a chance I’m around to talk about it later.  I’d be dead or in a coma with bloody bandages wrapped around my head like a Revolutionary War soldier. Those are just the facts.

I don't do well with injuries

I don’t do well with injuries

But yesterday was a day that will forever be told throughout our family’s history… A day that generations of little Carmine’s will pass on to their sons and their sons’ sons.  A day in which the power of a parent quadruples when their child is in danger.  There are stories of mothers who have picked up a car to save their infant child who was stuck underneath it.  Well, that is exactly the sort of thing that happened to us yesterday.

Driving home the ole Honda blew out a tire.  After pulling off to the side of the road and realizing that there was no way I could drive home on the rim the rest of the five miles, I knew there was only one thing to do. Call someone to pick us up and let AAA change the tire!

But… then I thought to myself, “this is the perfect opportunity to teach Jax something that The Old Man couldn’t teach Ralphie that faithful Christmas Night… How to change a flat tire.” I was pretty pumped to bring him out of the car and sit him down on the curb and give him a run down of the steps needed to change a flat… maybe even give him a stop watch to time it (yes I carry a stop watch around in my car, never know when a hurdle race is going to break out).

However, there was one fatal flaw in the plan… I don’t know how to change a flat tire Jackson was sleeping in his car seat.  So the man-plan simply went out the window… got blown up like the tire I was attempting to change… I guess I’ll have to wait until his mother shows him to change one… until the next flat to have one of those father son moments!

Completely underrated movie scene… SO TRUE… Exactly how I picture Jackson and I changing a tire!

“Only I didn’t say ‘Fudge.’ I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word!”

PS:  Changed the tire in less than ten minutes, Jax slept the entire time and I only wound up with a few cuts on my hand.

6.8.14. – Hurdle Champ

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As a new dad, part of the excitement is sharing your passion for sports with your child. I can not wait to play catch with my son for the first time, shoot hoops or toss around a football. But for me there is just something about being able to say my son saw me hurdle that I have been really excited about. The BHS Alumni Track Meet allowed for just that this past weekend. Although there’s no way I can compete with the 18 year old me going over the hurdles, I still cleared them all and fought off all challengers to defend my throne! A Gold medal- 1st place finish with my son watching was an incredible feeling. I’m glad you were able to be there with me Jax.

Now if I might just share an aside here… Sportsmanship is supremely important to all athletes, but not at the expense of doing your thing out there! I think there must be some aura that still shines brightly around me, because I felt the fans cheering and the reporters’ cameras clicking as I coasted over those 10 barriers. As I crossed the finish line I felt as if it were 1998 again. Then I just upped and left… Said my goodbyes, gathered up the kid and wife and walked off victoriously into the sunset. Now that’s a Power Move if I’ve ever seen one. Show up, Dominate, then disappear mysteriously and let the people remember you as a legend.