Shane warned me months ago that I needed to get an early start on this post, as it would be a lengthy hunt to find five likable things about him. To prove him wrong, I'm typing this sentence at twenty minutes past midnight on his actual birthday. I would have started an hour ago, but I read his most recent blog post, giggled until I could stop, and then traveled backwards through his archives reading comments on recent posts that I had missed along the way. I'm sometimes a terrible listener, and there are few conversational pairings that I can tolerate long-term, but the Mac and Shane duo, as long as they're staying away from too much comic book talk, is one of my favorites. Reading their interactions at Today I was Pompous is generally something to be savored, hence the lost hour of my night.
So today is Shane's birthday. Despite what you may have heard or observed about my higher maturity level, he's older than me--by a significant five and a half years. He's also the last of the sibs to get the five favorite birthday treatment. This should in no way reflect on my opinion of or affection for him. Last year his birthday got swallowed up in library renovations. This year, I'm not letting my tiny problems stand in the way of his birthday tribute (the way that I've let them stand in the way of responsible journalism for the past two weeks).
And so I present my five favorite things about one of my favorite brothers:
5. Shane is perhaps the most disciplined person I know. He's got rules about everything, and although many are of the quirky and arbitrary variety, all combined they end up making him a better person: kinder, smarter, more well-rounded, and for me, charmingly (but not boringly) predictable. I love that there are reasons behind all the things he does, and that he follows a plan. His rules make him consistent, which is a balm to my own erratic temperament. And his self-discipline gives me hope that we share enough genes that I might one day get my act together as much as he has.
4. I don't remember this about little-boy Shane, but apparently he was incredibly stingy in that stealthy way at which he excels. I have no reason to doubt this, but I can also emphatically declare that he has outgrown that trait. His generosity is a fountain, a trait (among many others) that he shares with my moma. I think part of Shane's generosity springs from the same place as hers: fierce love, protectiveness, an overwhelming amount of patience. But Shane is also perhaps the most contented soul I know, and it seems to me that he's taught himself contentment. He gives of himself, his means, and his time in countless selfless ways, without any expectation of repayment or acknowledgment. Last year when he won the $100,000, he gave away at least half of it. It boggles the mind, but it shouldn't because he was just as generous before he became a hundred thousandaire.
3. Although I typically like to downplay this trait (lest he think he can compete with me comedically), Shane is funny. Perhaps I've mentioned sometime previously that humor is a highly valued characteristic in my estimation. Lucky for both of us, he makes me laugh. Our senses of humor are immensely compatible, to the degree that we probably annoy those around us with how hilarious we find each other--and ourselves. Lately, Shane's been killing it, humor-wise, in his blogging. Seriously, if you're not reading him, imaginary readers, you should be. The only time he's funnier is when he's dissolved helplessly into giggles. It's a hoot.
2. Lest anyone think I have an unrealistic view of his many positive attributes, let me tell you about my favorite annoying thing about Shane. He's crazy-ridiculously stubborn. I don't want to keep using superlatives, but he's seriously the bull-headed champion in a family of unyielding individuals. I like his stubbornness for a couple of reasons. I think it helps manifest a few of those good traits I've already mentioned, like his discipline and generosity, and I think a certain amount of steadfastness is admirable. But his stubbornness can also be super-annoying and inconvenient and counter-productive, especially when it butts up against my own inflexible tendencies--and I still like it because it helps to remind me just how far from perfect Shane is.
1. Ultimately, Shane is an even-tempered version of me. We're just enough alike that we laugh at the same things, enjoy a lot of the same entertainments, and want to talk about the same topics, but we're not so alike that there's no surprise or debate or disagreement. It's a complimentary sort of relationship, the thing that makes us friends and not just siblings. Part of it is all that shared history and probably some shared genetic tendencies, and part of it is simple geography. We live in the same town, go to the same church, and see each other at least three times a week. Shane is my closest and best connection with family. He's my home when I'm not at home. He is my safety net, and I would have driven myself crazy and fallen apart and run back to Kentucky to live upstairs at my moma's a hundred times over in the past seven years if he wasn't here being my rock.
Shane's good people, and he deserves to have the very best birthday ever. And to help him celebrate, I'm going to force his indecisive soul into making a decision about where to eat supper. It's my favorite form of birthday torture. You're welcome, bro.