Country Boy, City Streets
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My brother Dwayne leads a hilarious life sometimes. If something funny is going to happen, itíll happen to him. Heís a country boy who depends on an angel with a twisted sense of humor to help him through life. But mostly, he just asks me, his big sister, for advice.

One thing you need to know about my brother before you read this is that he doesnít get to the city much. I used to live in Asheville, which isnít really a big city, but big for me, so I gave him some advice Ė get there early and avoid traffic.

Back in the spring, Dwayne and his wife, Misty, headed out for a Bob Dylan concert at the Asheville Civic Center. Following my advice, they arrived about an hour and a half before the show, so they could find a parking space without any trouble and prevent the argument they always have after getting lost or having to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Iíve been there, done that with my own ex-husband, and my goal is to keep my brotherís marriage straightjacket and divorce court free.

  
 
Argument derailed, they had no idea what to do for the next hour, and so they called me from Mistyís momís cell phone sheíd let them borrow in case of an emergency.

"Weíre here and not one hateful word has passed between us," he said. "Now what? Weíre way freaking early."

"Go explore downtown Asheville on foot," I said. "Patton Avenue might have some interesting shops to look in."

My brother said, "You mean, leave the parking garage?" He sounded panicked at the thought.

"Well, yeah, unless you just want to twiddle your thumbs for the next hour, or end up picking a fight with each other out of boredom."

Dwayne discussed it with Misty, and since I had suggested it, she figured it would be okay.

I hung up and laughed. I could have suggested they start a naked dance club in the street, and they would have thought it was a great idea. Why they take advice from someone who owns a straightjacket and a certificate of divorce baffles me.

"Okay," my brother said, "If weíre going to do this, we do not cross the road, or turn down another street. We go straight for a few blocks, and then turn right back around and come back the way we traveled. That way we canít get lost." Misty agreed to this, and off they went.

Leave it to my brother to walk into a bookstore thatís not exactly like all the others. As he perused the books, he kept noticing how touchy feely the guys were with each other. One guy leaned in close and whispered in his buddyís ear. Another guy pointed at a passage in a book and then casually touched his friendís hand or squeeze his arm. The women stood or sat with arms around each other, meaningful looks passing between them as they read or sipped fancy mocha coffee.

Dwayne tried to observe this without being obvious about it, but then he looked at Misty and said, louder than he meant to, "Is it my imagination, or is everyone in here gay?"

A hush fell over the bookstore, and people turned to stare at them.

Misty smacked his arm and hissed, "Shut up," then dragged him toward the exit. "I told you not to embarrass me today," she said through gritted teeth.

Dwayne shrugged. "Just wondering. No offence intended." He smiled and waved on his way out the door.

Once outside a homeless person rose up off a bench, drunk and out of his head, and started speaking gibberish at them. Misty grabbed Dwayneís arm again and tugged him down the sidewalk. "Letís just go wait in the car," she said.

My brother looked over his shoulder and said, "Hey, thatís a real live bum right out in public. Iíve only seen Ďem on TV." He reached in his jeans and rummaged around in his pocket for some money to toss at the guy, while the rest of the city stepped around the homeless man as if he didnít exist.

Our daddy once told us that if we wanted to help someone like that to just throw the money at them because they arenít the cleanest people in the world, and we might catch something from them. I know. I know. Most fathers would advise buying the homeless something to eat instead of giving them money theyíd most likely spend on cheap liquor, but we Lackeys arenít exactly like everyone else.

My brother told Daddy, "Knowing my luck, Iíd pitch the money, and someone else would snatch it from the air, then the bum would chase after the guy, theyíd get in a fight, the cops would be called, and both of them would point at me and say, ĎItís his fault. We wouldnít have gotten in a fight if that guy hadnít been throwing money at us,í then Iíd end up sitting in jail for my good deed."

He didnít get the money out in time to pitch it to the homeless man, so he gave it to a young lady playing the banjo on a street corner - something else heís never experienced in his life. He thought it was pretty cool and stood there for a long while listening to her play.

Finally, it was time for the concert, which passed uneventfully, except he couldnít get over how old Bob Dylan looked, and mentioned it several times, earning a smack on the arm from Misty and a "shush!" from her each time. Guess whose idea it was to go to a Bob Dylan concert? No, not mine. Iím not a Bob Dylan fan. Neither is my brother. Weíre more into Jacob Dylan.

Remember the argument they managed to avoid? Actually, it was just delayed. They got lost on the way out of the parking garage, and drove around in circles arguing about which way to go. Misty called her daddy and dragged him into the fight, and he got so irritated with his daughter that he threatened to shove his phone up her - well, where the sun donít shine - if she didnít listen to him. They ended up not getting home until around three in the morning.

So much for sisterly advice, but hey, at least they enjoyed the concert in peace this time.

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