Little Bro and I were discussing another Bro today, the one that fits in twixt me and him. Middle Little Bro is three years my junior and four years Little Bro’s senior.
Middle Bro, who shall be referred to hereafter as The Priest, left for a trip to Ireland about two weeks ago and has not been heard from since.
Must be one heck of a pub crawl he’s on.
As normally happens when I speak to baby brother ... ahem, excuse me ... Little Brother ... talk starts winding round to things and events that happened in our youth.
“Remember that record player mom and pop bought The Priest for Christmas one year? When he was about 10? I think it was called a ‘Walk ’n Play.’”
I couldn’t quite recollect, but immediately went to eBay to see if I could pull one up. No record of such a thing.
After a few minutes of punching in names and acronyms, it dawned on me that it was called a “Close ’n Play.”
“Oh yeah! Close and play! I still can’t believe ol’ skinflint Pops ever doled out the money for that thing.”
Something clicked in my head.
I remember ol’ Skinflint one time asking me, “Why can’t you find a nice guy like me?”
Uh ... ’cause you’re a skinflint?
Well guess what?
Yeah. Exactly. I did find someone just like him. Little did I know.
Anyway, back to the subject of the “Close ’n Play.”
The funniest part about that was the very few select 45s The Priest would play on that thing.
Over and over and over we heard Edward Bear singing “Last Song”: “It’s the last song I’ll ever wriiiite for you...”
Hurricane Smith’s “Oh Babe, What Would You Say?” and Mouth and McNeil’s “How Do You Do?” You remember that one? “How do you do ... uh huh ... I thought ‘Why Not’ nahnah nahnah ‘just me...and you ... and then ... we can ... nahnah nahnah ... just like...be’fo’.”
The Priest had those songs down pat. He was doing karaoke before anyone knew what karaoke was.
I can see him now, standing in front of his mirror, smoothing down that thick red hair, singing those songs to himself as we peeked through the vent in the bedroom door. The hairbrush microphone. The groovy off-white turtleneck sweater. Seems like he had a necklace of some sort, like a leather shoelace with a cross at the end.
I believe he had some shiny pointed shoes, too. Austin Powers without the bad teeth and glasses.
There was another song that I am aware of that I don’t know if any of the other vast numbers of siblings is aware that he sang.
“Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris.
Way too sexy for some devout little Catholic boy to be listening to. Or singing, for that matter. All I know is that when Holy-Mary-Mother-of-Seven started calling him, you could almost hear that needle go “whhhurrrp.”
Bless me Father, for I have sinned....
“Whaddya want, Ma?” he would call out, sliding the precious record player under the bed, hoping no one would come in and change the record to “Guitarzan” by Ray Stevens, a family favorite.
I don’t know how he clapped onto that particular R-rated 45, because it’s not really something either of my parents would have listened to. Too much moanin’ and groanin’. I mean, that song was just the epitome of “I Wanna Sex You Up.”
Never mind Donna Summer singing “Love to Love You, Baby,” she had nothin’ on that chick who sang with Major Harris.
So there is The Priest, crooning love ballads in the mirror, thinking of ways to schmooze the little gals at school on the playground.
I have to admit, he was probably a little ahead of his time, cause most of the kids were all trying to learn the lyrics to “My Dingaling” by Chuck Berry.
Not The Priest.
I can see him plain as day out there on the Fort Stewart Elementary School playground, sidling up to that cute little gal he liked, whispering something like, “I’ve got a confession to make, baby...” and launching into his love ballad.
What 10-year-old girl could resist?
Not surprisingly, most of them.
“Ewww...that’s gross!” they’d giggle and run.
The Priest doesn’t do love ballads anymore, though.
Given his calling, he’s upgraded to Irish folk songs.
But I know he’s got that Close ‘n Play with the Major Harris 45 tucked in his closet.
Just in case the priesthood doesn’t work out.