Perhaps it is the holiday season, perhaps enough time has passed to stop being mad at him, for whatever reason, I’ve begun to recall typical “Nick” moments. First, some background: Nick was my older brother, as such and the first born male child, my dad taught him how to do statistics for baseball, basketball, football, figuring batting averages, shooting percentages, that sort of thing. My younger brother and I were the after thoughts, the “oh yeah, I guess I should teach the other kids something as well.” Not that I was interested in either Math or Science (the subjects my dad taught at Greeneville Elementary School for 27 years) especially Math, once one can add and subtract, what else does one really need to know?
So, Nick learned math at an early age, he got to the point where he could add up the purchases at the grocery store before the machine, with tax. It impressed the hell out of the cashier and everyone else within earshot whenever we went to the store, it impressed the hell out of me as well, even if I had a pocket calculator (which didn’t exist at the time) it would’ve been impressive if I could add five items in the same time that Nick did an entire weeks worth of food, hopefully without stewed tomatoes.
A couple of years later, while several of us kids were playing Clue, Nick figured out how to win in three moves. At first, we thought he just got lucky, when he did it 5 games in a row, we asked him to teach us the trick, at first he refused, and kept winning to the point it was no longer fun to play. When he finally agreed to show us all how to do it, Nick prefaced it with, “remember, once everyone knows how to do it, we won’t be playing this game any more.” I won’t share the method because, he was right, once everyone or anyone knows how to win that quickly, the games are short, the fun is gone and everyone loses interest.
I will, however, share the method to win the “Wishbone pull”, a custom that requires two people to grasp each end of a dried Wishbone and pull, whoever ends up with the large portion of the Wishbone, gets a wish. My now X-wife and I would engage in this activity whenever we cooked a chicken or turkey, that is until I won 90% of the time and she refused to play any more. Silly me decided to tell her the “secret” of winning this game. Always let the other person pull, while you just hold onto your end and 9 times out of ten, you will end up with the bigger portion and the wish. Unfortunately, once both participants know the secret, you end up with two people holding the Wishbone, waiting for the other to pull first, this becomes boring pretty quickly and ending the game entirely.
Fast forward a few years, we are now in High School, Nick a senior, me two years behind and along with Nick’s best friend Tim we went to the movies to see “Murder on the Orient Express” which is an Agatha Christie story about…you guessed it…a murder on the Orient Express, which was a luxury passenger train that travelled through…you guessed it…the Orient (which is probably no longer PC) If you are not familiar with the story, it goes something like this: A man is murdered on the train and there are many suspects among the other passengers, if you’d like to know more….read the book or see the 1974 film, there is a newer version that I advise you skip as it does not follow the original story, as well as being just plain lousy. Anyway, the murder occurs and within a minute, Nick whispers to me that he knows who did it. I look at him as if he is nuts, so he writes down his deduction on a slip of paper and hands it to me saying “don’t look until the movie is over.” I did as he asked and of course he was correct, I won’t share this info, as it will ruin a pretty good film. (the 1974 version, not the more recent version as it does a pretty good job of ruining itself)
Last, but not least is the story of a card game that we called “Acey-ducey” which is played by dealing two cards, face up to each player, then each player decides how much money he or she will wager that the next card dealt to them is in between the two they already have. A player can bet the entire pot or any portion of it, if multiple players bet the pot and lose, they all have to match what’s in the pot. My friends and I have played this game many times and the pot can get pretty high, pretty quickly, as it did one Saturday evening, the pot was large and two players were left in this particular hand. Those players were Nick and his best friend Tim, Nick came first, he had a 7 and a 4, Tim an Ace and a 3, just about the best hand one can get in this game. The deck was very low and Nick bet almost the entire pot, leaving a Nickle, I was dealing and out came a 5, Nick won and Tim was pissed, figuring that would be his pot. Just for formalities, Tim bet the pot, I drew the card, a duce, Tim loses and everyone laughs, including Tim, who added…”we don’t call him ‘Joe computer brain’ for nothing.”
If this is your first time on this site and don’t understand the title, I will explain: My dear brother Nick died earlier this year, having drunk himself to death and I have been mad at him ever since, perhaps I’m now done, or perhaps, it is just the time of year to forgive?