Way back in junior high school, when I was at the height of my days of being a douche to my little brother, I came up with what I thought was the perfect nickname for the sibling you loved to tease and torment: Deke. A perfectly reasonable, if rarely heard, nickname. Especially when I told him it was a cross between "dick" and "geek." My secret little burn on baby brother that I could get in around the adults who'd be none the wiser. What a little prick, I was. But we'd been in a cycle of teasing and fighting—with extended runs of disdain, apathy and tolerance during many a front yard whiffle ball game, a game of hoops in the driveway or tackle football at the school with Cousin Mike and Cousin Mitch—we'd been going at it pretty much from the time he showed up 14 months after I was born. One of the earliest b&w photos from our childhood is of me landing a right jab to his head. So I find it fitting that my little bro is sitting next to that suffering pilgrim. The poor guy suffered early on for having an asshole for a big brother. But here's the irony of the whole thing. This photo was taken last summer while I was "doing The Camino" in Spain with my little brother and his son, my 21-year-old nephew Josh. And instead of having contempt and disdain for my younger bro, I have a deep love and huge respect for the guy. Especially after walking across Spain with him. He's got a love and a connection to his family that is impressive. He doesn't proselytize about his faith but tries to walk the walk and let his deeds lead. No preaching. And, as impressively as anything, he claims that after listening to me explain how the name has grown from a stupid putdown into a term of endearment for me, he's okay with me calling him "Deke." I told him I'd stop if he wanted. But I've called him Deke since we were kids. A bunch of our friends, even some family members, called him Deke. I know him, in my mind and heart—the heart that love this guy deeply—as Deke. To me, Deke is a God-loving badass who's been able to forgive and overcome the dreaded asshole big brother. He's a damn inspiration to little brothers everywhere!
Do I know you? One man's attempt at a lifelong head count.
NOTE: If you think I might have a photo of you—most likely at least one great photo of you—don't be afraid to ask me to post it (firstname.lastname@example.org) along with a brief entry about how I know you. And if I've met or known you but don't have any photo evidence, feel free to send along YOUR favorite photo of you. (I'm fascinated by what that slideshow might look like.)