I was eight when he was born. One of the earliest memories was of him vomiting into my baseball glove when I was nine. He was still crawling around on all fours and had evidently crawled behind the couch with it. I wanted to ride up to the school to play ball and was unable to find my mitt. Naturally, when I found it it didn't take long to discover the culprit in the matter. The evidence was right there in my hand. Worse yet, as my hands and fingers grew longer each year, they would discover how deep that crust of spit up had drooled into that glove.
For some reason we were mean to Robert. He was too cute for words and we were all probably jealous of the attention he got. I don't really know my motivations but I am ashamed at how we used to hide his little crutch which mom and dad hung on the kitchen wall. Because he couldn't walk I would sometimes plop him on the back porch and just run back and forth laughing and pretending I was having fun. I actually hated running, and if I had been faster I might have gone further in my baseball career.
Before you hate me too much, let it be known that I made up that last paragraph. (Or most of it.)
I was a tie-dyed-in-the-wool hippie in college, with the attire and accoutrements that went with it. So you can imagine my shock when I came home from school one year and my two youngest brothers were wearing disco-style pants and shirts. The flared lime green pants, the puffed flowing sleeves and where did you get those shoes?
His television fare included the Monkees, Scooby-Doo and Lost In Space, each of which had an influence on the shaping of his character. And what a character he is.
In the mid-1990's there was a stand-up comedy competition here in Duluth in which the winner would go to Minneapolis and compete to go on Jay Leno's show. I prepared a routine and called Robert to tell him about it. He replied, "Why are you doing this? You're no funny." That response was indeed funnier than my whole routine, which I scrapped the next day and re-wrote for the following evening.
A tribute to Robert wouldn't be complete without mentioning his love of the Yankees. The stories along that line could run a Yankee mile, but I have to get ready for work, so... let's let it go.
Happy birthday, Li'l Bro.
Picture, top right, painted last night in haste, Robert in his mid-teens. Yes, I wasn't the only one who had hair back then.