I’ve always been close to my brother, Brian. Despite being three years his senior, we’ve always been inseparable. There are times (as with all brothers) that we have fought and been estranged. But we’ve been through the crucible together, and that bond is unbreakable. We have a secret language, and nobody can make me laugh the way I laugh with I laugh with him.
I’ve always been close to my father. He wanted to be called Papa and that’s all we’ve ever called him. Even during the teen years where such a thing drew snickers and sneers from schoolmates. We never kept secrets from Papa and he never kept them from us. We played Dungeons & Dragons and video games together. Shared a love for science fiction and discussed theology and philosophy and politics. My father is a European immigrant, and he always kisses us hello and goodbye. On the lips. Like it or not (we like it just fine and have never found it weird, despite others doing so).
So earlier this year, when Cory recommended I listen to a podcast where three brothers played D&D with their dad, I was intrigued. After I listened to Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy play D&D with their dad Clint on the Adventure zone, I thought to myself...I guess somebody got my letters.
I’m sure I don’t have to explain to anyone who the McElroy brothers are. I know I’m late to this particular party, but I’m beyond infatuated with them and their work. It’s gotten to the point where friends and family roll their eyes and make fun of me a little. But that’s okay. Because these men are cut from the same cloth as me. I can hear it in the way they relate and talk to each other. I can hear it in the way they crack each other up. I hear it every time Travis calls Justin “Juice” or Griffin “Ditto” and it plucks my heartstrings. Because I hear an echo of my Dad calling Brian “Inski” or Brian calling me “Scootchie.”
I have been devouring the McElroy podcasts and assorted media. And while I’m becoming gleefully well versed in their history and lexicon, I’ve not yet found the courage to research details about their mother.
But I know she’s gone.
Not because of anything they’ve said...more because of what they don’t say. I don’t say those same things. I’m sure they’ve talked about it somewhere, I’m still catching up on episodes. Im sure I’ll stumble across a familiar sad story at some point. But I’m not in a rush. I recognize other members of this club when I see them, and I’m enjoying myself too much to feel sad.
Family is central to my life. And the older I get the more it becomes clear that what I have with mine is rare. I cherish it. I try not to take it for granted. And when I see it elsewhere I smile, and I feel a connection. Because I wish more people had what we have.
My dad has joined me on stage at PAX three times now and we’ve told stories, been completely inappropriate and even argued with each other in front of hundreds of attendees. And afterwards we always get people coming up and saying “God I wish I could talk to my parents like that.” Papa commented “I think they appreciate how much we love each other.” And I think he’s right. I appreciate how much the McElroy’s love each other (never more evident than in the final moments of their new SEE SO streaming television show).
Every episode of MBMBaM ends with Justin’s call to action: “Kiss your father square on the lips.”
And I always smile, and answer quietly to myself “I do.”