Me and My Brother

28 years and 13 days ago, Christopher Manion Spain was brought into the world. A blonde haired, blue eyed, bundle of joy. Not knowing what the world was in for, his older brother has been along for this ride of sports, California, and the honing of argumentative skills (yes, that’s a politically correct way to say that we fought like any two young brothers do).

Now I have to remember that as I write this, I’m going to give this guy a “best man’s” speech one day so I’m not going to share everything. I’m going to hold on to some stories, some insight, and some pictures, but he requested that I update this blog so he has something to read in class at law school. And I have no problem accommodating that wish with some stories about the two of us growing up…

  • I think if YouTube or America’s Funniest Home Videos existed back in our early days, our parents could have made us celebrities for some of the stupid fights we used to get into. Some were epic, but most were over the smallest stuff. Really, it would be the names we called each other that would win us the money. For our future careers and wives, I’m not even going to post an example.
  • There is one fight that is still talked about to this day. It is the fight that brings a laughing “Don’t you bring that up!” from my mom (She’s probably doing it right now. It’s ok mom. Put the hand down that you just put to your mouth after you did your “OH!”). It’s a fight that involves drama, a misunderstood hero (me), a cackling anti-hero (Chris), and a shower. It’s the infamous, the legendary, “Seabrook Fight”. A little backstory that you may need to understand the epicness of this fight:
  1. As a kid (ok, maybe still as an adult), I took long showers. It was the only place to get some peace and quiet in our house.
  2. Each summer as a family we would travel to Seabrook, New Hampshire for a vacation. We would rent a house close to the beach.
  3. I think one of the goals of each fight was to scream whatever we were saying at a level that attempted to exceed the others pitiful attempt. Chris never usually threw the temper tantrum along with it. I’ll admit that it usually came out of me but…

The day at the beach had finished like any other and we headed back to the house to shower before going to dinner. I hopped in before my brother and enjoyed the quietness. After a while Chris comes barging in (cue anti-hero theme). Now usually the yelling match would ensue but I swear to you, I kept it calm. I honestly don’t remember raising my voice. But Chris started in on the fact that he needed to shower before our dinner reservations in, oh, 15 minutes (cue dramatic camera shots that sweep back and forth between the two of us. But they’re clean camera shots because, yes, I’m in the shower). Still maintaining my calm to his yelling, the curtain suddenly flies open and he rips me right out of the still running shower. Next comes another voice into the bathroom and one arm that grabs a stark naked me and another arm that grabs my brother. My mom enters and immediately starts in on me (Cue flashback that would show, statistically, she picked the right kid). I then lose it and, still naked, go absolutely batty. I mean we’re talking purple in the face because I don’t think I even stop to breathe nuts that she’s even going to blame this on me. Over her shoulder I see Chris with a big smile on his face (that’s right, I saw it) as she throws me into the closest bedroom and shuts the door behind her. (And yes, still, no clothes, no towel). The purple only changes to red because I do take a breath but continue to scream. (side note: I just realized that sometimes my parents probably just let us keep screaming at each other because they knew it would tire us right out. Hmmm). I eventually do stop the crying (oh yes, there were tears) and screaming but for many years, I held onto the innocence that I did not cause the fight to begin. I held onto the innocence that it was not my voice that brought her in from outside. Nay, the only thing I was guilty of was having a brother who probably got more enjoyment out that moment than any home run he hit before that, any basket he made in basketball, or any A he got on a test.

And then I grew up and realized that I did a lot wrong in this situation but I have yet to hear any admission from him that it was his voice that started the whole thing. How about this Chris, I admit to, as a kid, taking money from where you hid it (tucked in the St. Louis Cardinals flag that used to be attached to the ceiling) to rent a video game if you admit to your involvement in the “Seabrook Fight”. (Cue camera going to a smile on his face and credits right before he admits it).

  • Another Chris and Jeff Spain story involves no fighting but simply a Strike 3 call. I was an umpire for little league as a young teenager. My very first game out of a quick, informal training session, was the championship game of my brother’s league. Oh, and my dad was also the coach of my brother’s team. You could not have written a better scenario in a movie as the game headed to the bottom of the 6th, 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and my brother stepping to the plate. Having the flashback in my head right now, I even think I remember my mom saying in a soft, very gentle way behind me, “Call it fair Jeffrey”. Again, I kid you not, it goes to a legitimate full count. Pitcher winds up, throws, and puts this ball wayyyy off the plate. To be honest, I think I even made the call before the ball got to the plate. “Strike three” I call. It wasn’t like a “SSSTTTRRRIIIKKKEEEE TTTHHHREEEEE!!!”. It was more like a soft, “strike thre” (leaving the last e off for emphasis). But at the same time it was uncontrollable. I don’t think I consciously choose to call him out. My mind just took over and I remember looking down at my count clicker to click in the third strike and the last out of the game. The other team erupts. My mom immediately puts me in a car and drives me home. I think the first words out of my dad’s mouth when he got home were in a very dad like way, “How far outside was that pitch?”. Chris on the other hand, I may still have a shoulder twitch from the amount of times would would walk by me and “accidentally” knock his shoulder into mine.

There are a ton more stories but, again, I’ve got to save them for when I’ve got a packed house and a microphone in my hand. But I will leave you and him with this.

Chris may be a saint. He’s been a great brother but in a few ways I’m comfortable mentioning here: He respectfully sat through numerous plays and musicals. He never used my allergies to his benefit. Most recently, he’s been a voice that not too many people are comfortable being as I go through some life changes. He has been and will continue to be a great resource, a great friend, and a great brother. Much love to you on your birthday and every day. Keep on rockin to your “lack of a bass beat” music out in California. Say hello to Stacy for me. Never stop doing what you’re doing. Thanks and have fun in class.

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