C buys underwear. Really, the ratio of buys to wears is heavily skewed in the buys direction but like every other woman on the planet, insofar as I can tell, she gets the Victoria Secret catalog in the mail.
As with the case of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, the Victoria Secret catalog doesn’t last very long. T1 scoops it up for what I can only assume is collaging purposes.
This is generally how it goes anyway. It’s not a secret in the house. We all know and understand the underwear catalogs belong to the teenager, who can get the best use out of them. It was a given. Until the last one came in. It was the bikini issue of the catalog.
“I want the magazine,” announced T2.
“What?” I asked.
“The Victor magazine that came in the mail,” he replied. “The one T1 took. I want it.”
“Well, I mean,” I said, “I mean, he took it. It’s sort of his now.”
“We can subscribe to it again so I get one, right?”
“It’s free because your mom buys underwear but they only send us one.”
“I want it.”
“Why? Why on earth do you want it?”
“Because,” he said, and then dropped his voice down very low, like Batman from the movies ,“I AM BECOMING A MAN!”
He couldn’t say it with a straight face but he remained adamant about the catalog.
“T1,” he said, “let’s wrestle.”
“What?” said T1. “Why?”
“So when I win I get the catalog,” said T2. T2 is under the impression that he is an amazing wrestler because, when they wrestle, T1 lets him win. In T2’s mind it is perfectly logical he could beat up his much bigger, older brother and the idea that the wrestling that takes place in our living room is fake is as crazy a concept as the idea that the wrestling on television is fake.
“First of all,” said T1, not unkindly and showing the surprising patience he is capable of where his little brother is concerned, “you can’t really beat me at wrestling. Second of all, why do you even want it?”
“Because,” T2 replied, “I AM BECOMING A MAN!”
“Are you trying to sound like Batman from the movies?” T1 asked.
“YES,” said T2 in Batman voice, “IT’S MANLY. BUT IT SORT OF HURTS MY THROAT.”
T1 looked at me. I shrugged.
“I’ll just give it to you if you want it,” said T1, “no need for violence.”
“Yeeeessssss!” said T2, doing a fist pump.
“My only stipulation is that we have to sit down together and look and it. After that, if you still want it, it is yours,” said T1.
“Okay,” said T2. “Wait. What’s a stipulation?”
“It’s that we have to look at it together.”
“No, what’s stipulation. I don’t know what means.”
“Oh,” said T1, “it’s like a condition. It’s what you have to do to get what you want.”
“Okay,” said T2.
T1 went upstairs and got the catalog. He sat down in the black chair in our family room and T2 wiggled in next to him.
“LET’S DO THIS!” T2 said in his deep, manly voice.
T1 showed him the cover. T2 raised an eyebrow.
T1 opened to the first full page spread. It was a woman reclining in a bikini.
T2 has a face he makes that I call his “Calvin face” because it looks exactly like the face the comic strip character Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes, would make when he encountered something disgusting. He made this now.
“She’s…she’s almost naked!” he yelped.
“It’s a bikini catalog,” T1 said. “ Put out by an underwear company. They are selling bikinis. They are in bikinis. Do you want to stop?”
“No,” said T2, “next page.”
T1 turned the page.
“SHE’S ALMOST NAKED!” T2 yelled in a decidedly non-manly voice.
“I’m not…”T1 looked at me. I shrugged again. “I don’t think you are understanding the point here.”
“Are they all almost naked?” asked T2.
“Yeah,” said T1, “that’s the point.”
T2 looked at his brother. Then at me.
“That’s disgusting,” he declared flatly. He got up and wandered over to his Legos.
“You don’t want it?” T1 asked.
The catalog disappeared back upstairs, its ultimate fate best left unremarked upon.
The next day T2 was on the couch, playing his allotted half hour a day of Call of Duty. T1 was back in the black chair, reading my Captain America comic book omnibus.
“T2,” I said, “why’d you really want the catalog?”
When T2 plays Call of Duty he gets into a zone. His concentration is such that he stops focusing on the real world and as a result he ends up being more or less unguarded and unfiltered. It’s like eight year old sodium pentothal.
“Because,” he said, his eyes not leaving the screen, “I want to be more like T1.”
Without looking up from his book T1 said the most big brotherly and the most touching thing I’ve ever heard him say.
“I want you to be better than me.”
I was proud of him.