Many years ago now, I strangled my baby brother. No need to send the police. It was a justifiable homicide.
My youngest sibling-like substance, Hondo, is interesting. He’s never had a doughnut.
How does one go through life and never taste a doughnut?
I didn’t choke Hondo for a life of doughnut abstinence.
Hondo’s one of Earth’s top choreographers and has traveled the world, teaching dance to everyone from the Chinese to the Irish. Always seemed the former needed the tutoring more, but, what do I know.
As a teen, Hondo Boston started out as mascot for the San Francisco 49ers. Some might say he wore a giant foam mask and helmet.
I like to point out that was actually his head.
Being a writer all my life, I appreciate how profoundly hard it is to be an artist. Today, Hondo is beyond successful. One of his gigs? He’s the choreographer for the Rams cheerleaders. All of them.
Next time I wed, it will be to the Rams cheerleaders.
Well. Just to the girl cheerleaders.
All of us in the Boston Family are eager to offer steps and moves we feel should be incorporated into the Ewes’ moves — on and off the field. Can’t recall Hondo using our suggestions, although to this day, we share a good laugh over our secret dance step.
It came from the 1953 Western, “Arrowhead,” which starred Charlton Heston and Jack Palance. Heston is an Indian hater and Palance is an Indian, educated at Harvard. The future Oscar-winner Palance has returned to his tribe to lead them in war against T.W.M.
The White Man.
Addressing the assembled warriors one evening, Palance shares he had a dream in which he was given a Really Cool Dance Move that would insure the obliteration of Caucasians everywhere. Palance loosens up. The braves encircle. To paraphrase the actor with the stone-chiseled features: “The dance goes a little something like this: Two Steps Forward. One Step Back. Kill the White Man…”
Now. What makes this scene memorable is that Palance has to keep repeating the technique. The Native American warriors are standing behind him, bobbing their heads, but not quite catching on.
For cripes sakes alive.
Two steps forward.
One step back.
How frigging hard is that? Even a half-naked Bernie Sanders supporter could pull off that move.
To this day, Hondo and I will run through that number, maybe one of us going “Three steps backwards and one — sideways?” while the other waves his hands, “No no no no no no no!!! What’s wrong with you!!!” while animatedly correcting the routine.
But that’s not why I strangled my beloved sibling-like substance.
Hondo was in his early 20s and starting his choreography career. I didn’t feel sorry for the guy, because he was working mightily to become himself. I did feel compassion because being a creative journalist at a stinkwater tri-weekly in Newhall I could only imagine my beloved relative struggling on a dance instructor salary, which, in the 1980s, was paid in packaged powdered soup.
For 10 years — TEN-NNUH YEARS — I paid for Hondo’s breakfastes, lunches, dinners, circus tickets, chimpanzee vet bills, gas, movies, pizza, popcorn and everything except conjugal visits from naughty cheerleaders from Cleveland.
One spring morning, we’re both up at our dopey sister Lisa’s home in Northern California. Lisa did, and does, Hondo’s taxes. Lisa does not do my taxes because she won’t allow me to deduct “Food” under “Medical.” I justly point out that if I don’t eat, I get sick. Never received even the slightest smile from a pretty good tax joke.
So we’re at breakfast and Lisa Frisbees Hondo’s tax returns across the table for him to sign. They hit me instead. I glance down. I do a double take, followed by another double take, followed by the cartoon sound effect of “GULP!” My lips purse. My brow furrows. I ask an obvious question:
“Excuse me. It’s Hondo, isn’t it? Hondo. Just how LONG have you been making a rather fat and comfy six figures income? Hondo?”
Hondo has a way of slipping into Stan Laurel mode. He’s sitting there, straight as a board. He blinks. He looks around at particularly nothing. Imperceptibly, he looks confused as he concentrates.
“I don’t know.”
If he had been wearing one of those little Laurel & Hardy derbies, he would have taken it off and scratched his scalp.
“Maybe 10 years. Probably longer. Why?”
I took a deep breath. I began strangling him and through gritted teeth was yelling: “YOU MEAN EVERY TIME WE’VE GONE OUT FOR THE PAST DECADE I’VE BEEN PAYING FOR EVERY MEAL, PIECE OF GUM AND BOAT RENTAL AND YOU’VE BEEN MAKING SIX ¡#^@‘Æ-itty !≥+≠!!!¡¡¡%ing DOLLARS!!”
Lisa stared nonplussed as I strangled her brother. Growing up poor, choking one another passed for entertainment.
“I thought you just LIKED me!!” gasped Hondo, wiggling like a plastic balloon man in front of a tire store.
“I don’t like ANYBODY that much!!” I screamed.
And really, I don’t.
Worse? Lisa informed me that the tens of thousands of dollars I was out wasn’t even deductible.
Thanks to buying all those meals, John Boston is a local impoverished writer. With 117 major awards.