In recent days, there’s been much discussion among my fans/haters (who are really just fans under a different name) comparing my dear brother and me. Frankly, this is a stupid comparison, and it wouldn’t exist if we didn’t share both a name and a blog. We have had remarkably different lives, separated by six years, eight grades in school (Jack skipped two grades, and when the school wanted to do the same with me, my parents declined, with my father saying that advancing Jack was the “greatest mistake of his life”), and nearly completely different interests.
In fact, there are only four things in which we’ve ever shared an interest.
- BMX racing. As kids, we both pedaled around dirt tracks, but Jack kept at it much longer than I did. My interest in BMX was replaced by traditional ball and stick sports as a pre-teen.
- Cars. Where Jack has much more of a mechanical interest in cars and how they work, I’m more interested in the business side, specifically the dealership model—it’s how I make my actual living. We both like racing, but he has considerably more seat time than I, and I’m just as happy to man the radios and devise team strategy as I am to wheel. I’ve won national autocross trophies, and I’ve had a couple of podium finishes in AER, whereas Jack’s won a bunch of endurance races, stood on the podium at Sepang, etc., etc.
- The written word. Jack’s much more well-read than I am in the classic sense. Much of my reading growing up was devoted to the pages of Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News. While I believe Jack to be a transcendent talent when it comes to writing, I accept that I’m merely good. But I also try to write more plainly, especially when I was at TTAC. I saved my more floral writing for Jalopnik and R&T.
- Music. While Jack has been an amateur guitarist and collector for three decades, I majored in music performance, was a featured soloist with the OSU Jazz Ensemble, played in big bands with members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, wrote three records worth of original music, performed in thirty states and seven different countries, and backed up such legends as Barry White and Al Green.I can harmonically analyze most music after hearing it a single time. If I enjoyed being poor more than I do, I’d be a professional musician.
That’s it. There are far, far more ways that we are different than similar. Our childhoods were completely different. I played football, basketball, and ran track for my school, and played summer league baseball. I think Jack was on the lacrosse team for a week once. I was in the jazz and concert band programs, and he quit trumpet in middle school. I was the president of my class. Suffice to say, he wasn’t. I had a 3.9 GPA and National Merit Semi-Finalist test scores. I’m not sure Jack attended classes.
As adults, we’re not very similar, either. This is most obvious in the great difference in the way we parent our children.
You’ll notice that you won’t read any tales of my son or daughter karting, or taking bicycles to skateparks. My son’s ninth birthday is less than a month away, and he can’t even ride a bicycle. He has no interest in it. Our neighborhood isn’t conducive to bike riding—we basically live on a long cul-de-sac off of a busy country road. I put him in a go-kart once at a Magic Mountain, and he said, “I don’t want to do this.” I said, “Okay,” and gave him more video game tokens.
In fact, when it comes to parenting, I’m disgustingly suburban. We have a Ford Flex, even though something like a mid-sizer would be fine. Soccer, that most suburban of American sports, tends to dominate our lives.I’ve coached both of my kids in soccer, and I currently coach my son’s futsal team.My son plays soccer five days a week in the spring and fall, plays futsal in the winter, and goes to soccer camp in the summer. He’s the best goalkeeper under 10 that most people have ever seen (he’s in the green goalkeeper’s kit in the pic at the top). My daughter takes tap, jazz, and ballet lessons. I just bought her a digital 88-key console Yamaha piano to encourage her in the music lessons she’s been taking this year.
I review my kids’ homework with them and make them re-do it if it’s messy or incorrect. Well, I review my son’s homework—my daughter’s is always picture perfect. (She’s a people pleaser.) I attend parent-teacher conferences and I go to school plays. I take lots of pictures and I always ask people to smile.
Jack often asks if my son, Kevin, wants to do something with his son. I always have to remind him that my daughter, Regan, would probably like to be involved, too. I’m not all about feminism or whatever, but I’m always conscious of the fact that my little girl can do whatever she wants to do. I coached her in soccer for a year, but she decided that “running my hardest isn’t my favorite thing to do, Dad.” I’m not displeased that her interests are in dance, music, and dolls, but I’d support her equally if she decided it was softball and carpentry.
So yes, Jack is the better writer, better driver, and is probably just plain ol’ more interesting. There’s not a lot of compelling drama coming from a guy who’s been married for 15 years and lives in Suburbia with his two Aryan-looking children in a golf-course house and a three-car garage that’s mostly filled with children’s toys.
Granted, that’s a simplistic way to describe my life. I travel 40+ weeks a year, and I’ve been to 46 out of 50 states and 97 of the largest 100 American cities in the last half decade alone. I’m fortunate enough to enjoy the finer things in life, thanks to a generous salary and a hefty travel budget. I’ve driven more supercars than most people have seen in person. I’m very fortunate and blessed to lead the life that I lead.
But when it gets right down to it, I’m a suburban soccer dad who wears Brooks Brothers polos and yells at soccer referees. And I’m completely okay with it. If that bores you, so be it.