I am the eldest of three brothers. I am two years older than one and seven years older than the other. I don’t know how I did as an older brother. No one ever told me.
One year, I think it may have been 1985 or 1986, I gave up on being the eldest brother. I let the middle brother assume the role of the eldest brother. I could feel that he wanted it so badly, and it was obvious my brothers wanted me out of that position.
I think my father made me hate responsibility. I was the best runner on the Cross Country team of Connetquot High School for my sophomore through senior years, yet when it came time to name team captains, I was passed over. I should have been passed over, because I didn’t like to practice — complained about the workouts all the time, regularly engaged in what we called Hostess Runs (instead of running the prescribed distance, we’d run to the Hostess outlet and gorge on Suzy-Q’s and Twinkies at a remote location inside Connetquot State Park.) But when it came time for the meets, I would win — every single time. I was the best and there was nothing anyone could do to take that away from me. They could practice harder, stretch longer, have beautiful girlfriends — their parents could have more money than mine. None of it mattered. I was always fucking better.
My father made me hate being good at anything. There was always unnecessary pressure associated with being good. I had to get a scholarship, I needed to win awards, I couldn’t be pushed around.
My father made the middle brother and I join an organization called DeMolay. It was some junior organization of the Masons, and my father wanted to create a new chapter of this freak organization at his Masonic chapter in Smithtown, New York. There came a time we had to decide on the first leader of this organization. Since my father, Frank J. Tempone, Jr. initiated this endeavor, it seemed obvious that I, Frank J. Tempone, III would be its first leader. I don’t remember what the title was called, but there was a ceremony where the girls’ equivalent of Demolay — Rainbow, or something — would come in and present the new boys’ leader with a giant stuffed animal, as a token of acknowledgment. It’s one of those things that makes a person think about why he’s actually on this Earth. Are we here to do time-killing shit like this all the time?
When it came time to vote, I not only backed out of the running for Grand Water Buffalo, but I abstained from all voting. My father seethed when I refused to vote, probably asked me why I had to be such a dick, which was especially traumatic coming from your father, but I guess that’s what I wanted all along.
Today my brother, the accountant, continues the role of big brother. The other evening, Big Brother asked me what was going on, like he cared. He told me to stick it out, or something. He told me I had kids to think about. Thanks, Billy, but there’s nothing you can do to help me with this one.