Corb hasn't seen his brother Greg for three years. He was last seen at a Christmas party, back in the days when Corb's mother and her oldest son Scott were actually speaking to each other. Since then, Greg, who is the middle child and the most wild, got himself lost in Boston, and hasn't been much heard from.
Oh, they'd get little snatches, hear and there. Frankly, I thought he was a bit wise, staying so far away from the family drama.
But about a month ago, Corb's mother took it upon herself to make sure everything was okay, and took a ride with her boyfriend to Greg's last known apartment, to see if he was still around.
He was, and as it turned out, had actually gotten his act together. Although the apartment looked dreadful and was a repository for empty beer cans, he had just gotten through a period where his girlfriend was unemployed and he was having the IRS deduct money from his pay each week for unpaid taxes. It got so bad that they couldn't afford the money to feed their cat.
But that's all behind them now, and as it turns out, the surprise visit actually did some good. Greg even agreed to meet his mother for her birthday, which they scheduled for Sunday afternoon, at Fire and Ice in Boston.
It was kind of nice for her, I think, although Corb is perfectly content playing the only son. And I can see where that's an appealing thought. Not having to share the spotlight...being thought of as the "good child"...it's something that you kind of get used to hearing.
At the end of the day, Greg and his girlfriend, who both work in the restaurant business, picked up the bill. Even though I was sitting at the far end of the table, and it was hard to hear much, I knew that they were going to try to pick up the tab.
Corb's grandmother, who always tries to pay her own way, was the first to try to chip in some money. But Greg very firmly took her cash and placed it back into her pocketbook.
"I'm going to give him forty," Corb said to me.
"He won't take it," I whispered back.
"It's a matter of pride," I said. "They just got through a tough financial spot and want to make up for it. They haven't seen the family in three years. Let them take care of this meal."
"But they don't have the money," said Corb.
"They do for today."
After lunch, we walked around Boston. We took turns pushing Corb's grandmother in her wheelchair. Through the park, and Greg showed us the five star restaurant he works at, and then we walked over to the John Hancock building, where Corb's uncle works. He was working, but they wouldn't let us get very far into the building.
At the end of the day, Corb tried shoving his forty dollars into Greg's pocket and walking away.
Greg walked right over and shoved it back into Corb's car.
"I don't know why he's being so stubborn," said Corb.
I did. When you get so close to the abyss, and get beyond it, you want to show your appreciation, somehow. Greg is far too proud to let his family know that he felt bad, having hidden himself away for three years. So he had to express himself in another way. The best response is to just to let him have his moment in the sun, especially when Corb's had so many others.
"Well, that was nice," Corb said, as we were driving off.
"Think we'll do it again soon?" I asked, looking up from my battered copy of the New Yorker.
Corb thought about that for a moment. "Maybe in another three years," he replied.