what you are about to read is a creative writing assignment i had in university.
it is about my younger brother al, who has always been a pain in my ass.


Mississauga, ON – 1993

The Wu-Tang Clan iz runnin’ dis shit” scrawls across my computer screen. I turn the monitor off, shake my head and yell “Al, did you change the screensaver?” I don’t really need to ask.

“Huh? What, Tosh?” My younger brother bounds down the stairs to where I sit in the basement. He smiles slyly.

He looks at me as I sit in front of the blank computer screen, and screams “Awwwwww, Yeah!!” Wu-Tang Clan is running dis shit!!”

“Yeah, I know what it says. I read it. I’m changing it back to the John Cusack one.”

“Tosh-man, that shizit is so boring.” Then his voice rings out with a triumphant “Wu-Tang CLAN, bee-atch!” He uses “Bee-atch” as his punk-kid version of bitch.

“What did you call me?”

“Nothing, Tosha.” He uses an obnoxious cartoon voice, but that sly grin is still there.

My middle brother, Al is seventeen, with dark brown hair, curly hair. He wears round metal framed glasses, and even though he is four years younger, he stands a full head over me. He refuses to shave the pathetic clump of hair under his chin, that only he calls a beard. His wardrobe consists of extra large GAP khaki pants, or extra wide-leg blue jeans and t-shirts with logos of either his favourite hard rock band or sporting companies. Because it is night, he now wears an old t-shirt and shorts with holes in them.

All my brothers call me Tosh or Tosha, while everyone else uses Natasha, Tash or Tasha. I have just learned to live with it.

I turn the computer screen back on so I can shut the computer down. Al constantly changes the settings on me. He changes the sound you hear booting up, shutting down, the look of the background in Windows and, like now, the screensaver. Once he even downloaded a music sample from the Cypress Hill home page. Anytime you clicked on anything in Windows, you heard an annoying bass line “duh - dum, dum, dum.” After about five minutes I was ready to rip the speakers out.

Today, when I start the shut down, I am met with the vocals of Jonathan Davis, the lead singer of the metal band Korn, who yells “ARE YOU READY??” at me.

“Awww, YEAH!!” Al shouts from in front of the TV. He stands, puts his hands on his hips and starts a strange, hip-grinding victory dance.

When he’s done, his sits back down and presses play on the VCR. Another metal band, this time Deftones, pop onto the screen. “I get BORED!!”

I turn to him. “Al, I’ve figured it out. You only like bands that need to yell to get their point across.”

“Damn right, nigga.”

“Cut it out with that word.”

“What? Nigga?”


“Why?” We’ve had this conversation before. I know I am being set up.

“Because it’s derogatory. It’s been used as an insult for more than a hundred years.”

“Can a black man call another black man an Nigger?” he answers without a pause.

I know what he is doing. He forces me to answer “I guess so, yes.”

“Well, then nigga…I can say it all I want. I’m black! NEGRO!!”

I shake my head and sigh. Our father is from Argentina, our mother is from Trinidad.

“Al, you’re about one-eighth black. Grandad was the only one.”

“That don’t mean shit. I’m a nigga. And you can’t tell me what to do, bee-atch!”

“Really?” Now, I smile that same sly smile. “Tell me again…How much money do you want to borrow Friday night?”

“Uh? I mean…Sorry Tosha” he says in a meek voice.

I get up and relocate myself to the other end of the couch Al sits on, and steal the converter. “No more Deftones shit.” I press stop, and turn the channel to MuchMusic.

He punches me in the arm - hard. “Give it back! I had it first!”

“I was down here first.” I block a blow aimed at my head. “Keep your big meaty hands off of me!” I yell.

We wrestle for about five minutes, then he climbs on top of me, sits on my chest, and yells in my face “How you like DAT, bee-atch??!! West-siiiiiiiddddeeee!!” When pleased, he uses this barbaric insane, annoying call.

Now I am done for. I can’t breathe. I kick, wiggle and struggle but, it’s no use - he won’t budge. I stoop to the last and only line of defence left open to me. I bite him.

“Ow!” He rubs his arm, pinches me and moves off of me, pulling the elastic from my pony-tail with him. “Westside, Negro!!”

The soothing sounds of the Backstreet Boys emanate from the TV. Al joins in at the chorus and dances in his seat. “Quit playin’ games with my heart…with my heart…” His voice hasn’t completely changed and cracks often.

“How can you like Korn and the Backstreet Boys?”

“How ca you like all that shizit you like? Oasis sucks. Besides, I don’t like these fag-boys. I’m making fun of you. I’m mocking your dumb-ass!”

“Yeah, right.”

“Shut up! I am.”

“Okay, whatever.”

“I’m gonna kick your ass!” He starts toward me.

“Sit your ass down, little boy. I wanna hear this.”

We both quiet down and enjoy the last few seconds of the song.

“Press play.” he says, calmly.

Does he think I’m stupid? I know Deftones is still in the VCR. “No.”

“C’mon, just press play.”


“Press play!!” he screeches.


“Just do it!” He’s yelling now.

“No.” I continue to flip the channels, unfazed.

“I’ll remember this!”

I decide to quote a line from one of his favourite movies. “Write it down. Take a picture, I don’t give a fuck!”

He recognizes Smokey’s line from Friday and pipes up with “Smoke-dawg!! Awrgh! Awrgh! Awrgh!” The barking makes me smile. “Whatchu laughin’ at, bee-atch? You wanna pieces of me?” He puffs out his chest like a peacock and looms toward me with a “Classic Al” stone face.

I put my hand in the middle of his chest to keep him away.

“Sit down, boy. And, If you call me bitch again…” I leave the threat hanging open.

“You’ll what? BEE-ATCH!!” I change the positioning of my hand to pinch him.

“Ow!” He pushes my hand away. As he rubs his chest he changes tones and says “Yo, Tosh. That bee-atch, Miss Katz fucked me over again. She won’t have a Drama OAC class next year. What the hell am I supposed to do now? I was gonna use it as one of my top six. You know why she’s doin’ it right?” He pauses. I know what’s coming. “Cuz she’s a woman. She should be in the kitchen making dinner for her man, or cleaning something. We never should have given you guys the right to vote.” He’s hated all female teachers since one of them said “You should be more like your sister.”

“Yeah, boy! Westside!” and then chants “This is my house. MA HOUSE!” He taps the wall with the tip of his fingers. “See this? Ma house!”

I don’t want to start another fight, so I just roll my eyes and turn my attention back to the TV.

“Yo, Tosh, do you work tonight?”


“Do I?”

He seems to have this fantasy that I will get him a job at the record store I work at…even though he’s a high-school kid with a bad attitude and no experience. “We’re not hiring right now, Al.”

“Get me a job!” he yells.

The phone rings. He turns to me and asks “What voice?”

“Irish.” is my answer.

He picks up the phone and says “Good day, there laddie. You’ve reached the McTavish residence…”

I stop him.

“McTavish is a Scottish name, you jack-ass!”

He says “Shut it” to me and “Hey Mary” into the receiver. “Hang this up when I get upstairs…and, don’t talk to her!”

Before he leaves the room I pick up the phone and chit-chat with his friend.

“Hi Mary…How are you?”

“Stop it! C’mon!” Al whispers to me.

I stop. We stare at each other. Silence. He leans toward me…sniffs around my head like a dog and says in that little cartoon voice “Tosha stinks” waving his hand underneath his nose. He gives a little weasel laugh “he he he” and like a big stupid elf, runs up the stairs, the old tube socks he’s wearing almost falling off his feet.

Once I hear the “Okay, I got it!” I hang up the phone.

I pick up the converter and flip the channels, again. I hear footsteps coming down the stairs. I see Martin, my youngest brother.

With a cup of ice cream in his hand, he stops in front of the TV, takes out Al’s Deftones tape and puts in one of his own. I don’t have to ask. I know its Silverchair.

He turns to me and says, “Yo, Tosh…press play.”


Green Fish said...

Awwwwwww..... that's so sweet. Now I know how you put up with jimmy.

elizabeth said...

My teachers would have kicked my ass if I'd used that language - you are a hero of sorts.

I bit my brother once - it broke the skin. I got it shit. My defence was that "his arm FELL into my mouth". They didn't buy it - but they laughed like hell.