When a brother’s love goes haywire

By Lori Clinch

There are several different kinds of sports fans. There are the meek and the mild who keep to themselves. Then there are zealous rooters who whistle and applaud and never hesitate to start a heartfelt crowd wave.

Best yet are the crowd-pleasers who show up with team colors smeared on their bodies. Although they tend to be real entertaining, I oftentimes can’t help but wonder what their mothers think.

I kind of like to think of myself as a zealous rooter and although I barely know a horse collar from an encroachment, I loudly proclaim my main concerns for any game: “Don’t hurt him!” and “Nice matters!”

On the flip-flop of my familial coin, you have my brother, who is of the crowd-pleaser variety. He is a real sports fan who spends his Saturdays enjoying college football, his Sundays are dedicated to the NFL, and if you dare call him on a Monday night, you better have news worthy of a press release.

Needless to say, watching his nephews play any sort of a contest is his favorite pastime and he does so with great dedication.

The fact that he shows up to cheer for our boys means a great deal to me. I enjoy Artie at the games, relish hearing his account of the plays and get a big kick out of watching him run up and down the sidelines.

I would love to have him planted firmly on the bench next to me if it weren’t for one small detail — my brother has a Mohawk. That’s right, one of those fun-filled hairdos that consist of a shaved head and a stripe of hair down the middle.

Now, I must admit that I am as much of a girly girl as you can get. I may be sitting on a bleacher in sub-zero temperatures with the wind nipping at my back, but you can bet your last barrette that I’ll look my personal best doing it.

Although my hair is not perfect, I do give it a stellar go. School colors are represented from the jewelry to the socks, and if I’m waving a banner, I’ll go the extra mile to make sure it doesn’t clash with my puffy coat.

“Check out the Mohawk at nine o’clock,” a fellow sports fan, who was not in the know, said at a football game.

“That’s my brother,” I said nonchalantly as I adjusted my bracelet.

She chuckled and then responded, “No, seriously.”

I had moved from the bracelet to lint picking and was preparing to apply lip gloss as I let out a deep sigh and said, “Seriously.”

She didn’t believe me until Artie walked by. “Hey sis,” he said as he squeezed my arm. I gave him a heartfelt high-five and replied, “Hey bro.”

I allow my brother to wear the Mohawk and attend our sons’ games under the condition that he never wears face paint to any contest, no matter what.  I have seen, firsthand, what his painted face looks like and as any honest sibling would attest, it just shouldn’t be.

“I can never wear face paint?” he asked with disappointment.

“Never.”

“What if we’re on a winning streak?”

“No.”

“What if we make the playoffs?”

“Nope.”

“But how can I show team spirit and make sure the boys are feeling my mojo?”

I then said with all of the love in my heart, “Just you being there is enough.”

Last year he was a good boy through the regular season and kept his sports enthusiasm to a dull roar. It might have been hard on him to tone it down, but he behaved with class; as much class as a Mohawk would allow, you understand.

Artie didn’t argue with me up until the playoff games approached.  “Lori,” he said over the phone, “I have to talk to you.”

“Yes,” I said with fear of what it might be.

“Well, as I was shaving my head and appreciating how pretty I truly am, I decided that I have to amend my promise and will need to further enhance my beauty with face paint.”

“You CANNOT go back on that promise,” I exclaimed.

“Have to do it for the kids!”

“You don’t!”

“I do.”

Although I did my best to convince him otherwise, Artie was sporting crowd-pleasing face paint for the next game and there was little I could do about it because, and I quote, “You’re not the boss of me.”

Lots of folks at the game stopped by and said hello. Those in the know were understanding of the fact that I had a team colored gunny sack over my head.

Author’s note: Artie passed away on Aug. 7. Rest in peace my dear brother. The game of life will never be the same without you.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.