From Station to Station.

June 4, 2009


“You and Alex are the best sons I could ever hope to have, but I’m shopping for another one.”

Chevy Chase was seven years old, and was sitting on a park bench near a pond with his mother, who tossed stray crumbs of pumpernickel to the ducks that had gathered near the water’s edge. Chevy Chase crossed his arms in indignation.

“I don’t want another little brother. I want an older brother.” The ducks gobbled his mother’s sacrificial offerings as Chevy Chase thought of how they managed to live, for the most part, without having any solid ground beneath their feet like he had. Except for those rare moments when they ventured ashore, they had to deal with elements, like the wind and the current, that pushed them one way or the other, and they could never really control those things; they just had to give up at some point and stop fighting.

Chevy Chase’s mother laughed at his interjection. “Well, first of all, I was just kidding,” she assured him, massaging his scalp with just the right amount of teasing force. “Second of all, I hate to say it, but you’re never gonna have an older brother. You’re the oldest. No one came before you.”

Chevy Chase grinned. He liked the thought of being the absolute first, in his family, maybe even the world; this meant that he would’ve invented, not just differences, but DIFFERENCE, that people knew who they were, could tell themselves apart from everything and everyone else, because of his decision to sculpt them with their own funny “quirks”, which is what his father called them. He shared this theory with his mother, who acknowledged the purely hypothetical nature of this scenario and confirmed that, indeed, if he was the absolute first, he would probably be responsible for crooked noses and different eye colours.

“That means,” Chevy Chase continued, “that since I came before Alex, I kind of created him. I’m the reason he’s here.”

His mother nodded and patted him on the shoulder. “Of course,” she affirmed, “because after we had you, your dad and I decided, ‘Well, we’d better try again so we can get it right this time.'”

His mother probably expected some level of comic offense from her son, but instead Chevy Chase stared out at the ducks, thinking about perfection. He knew there were times when his mom would get mad at him and order him to his room, and other times when his brother would get the brunt of her frustration. So there was something about everyone that wasn’t great. Or were there people out there who managed to make everyone happy? Years later, Chevy Chase would think about that day and wonder if anyone ever found perfectly stable ground, or if everyone just kind of paddled around, either struggling with the current or letting it blow them from station to station.


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