Friday, January 25, 2013


"When's he going to get here?"
"What's he going to be like?"
"I don't know."
"Why don't you know?"
"I don't know."
"How do you know you don't know?"
"I  – "
"Everybody shut the fuck up!"

Host Dad is watching The News.

Host Mom resumes doing dishes. Host Sister resumes studying English. Girl Host Cousin just sits there looking all cute. Boy Host Cousin resumes eating his own hand. Host Brother resumes reverse engineering his childhood toys, transforming them into mildly aggravating and somewhat deadly projectile weapons.

"Does he smoke like dad does?"
"Does he drink like dad does?"
"I think so, yes."
"Shut the fuck up," bellows Host Dad.

Host Brother is momentarily shutted the fuck up. Host Sister memorizes fifteen English words. Host Mom puts on a pot of tea. In anticipation. It is 10:30 PM.

"This is boring," says Host Brother, glaring at the television, amplifying his slingshot.
Host Dad says nothing, is watching The News.
"I don't care about The News," says Host Brother.
Host Dad blinks vigorously, is profoundly hungover, is watching The News.
"When's he going to get here?" asks Host Brother, and nobody says anything.

There is a plastic basketball hoop hammered into the hardwood wall above the door to the living room, and Host Brother has a small foam ball with which to play basketball against himself. He shoots some hoops. He clunks a shot against the backboard. The ball sneaks between his legs, ricochets against the fold-out futon, falls into Host Sister's hands. She takes a shot, misses. Host Mom scolds her for doing so. Smacks her once, smack, one proper smack across the cheek. That's a boy's game. Don't do that. Host Brother gets the rebound. He misses a layup. Nothing else is said. All is boring. Host Dad is watching The News.

Outside, it is snowing. The snow falls and falls, and it's something obvious and ordinary to the Host Family in the living room. Host Mom tongs another log into the fire. The sparks flit out of the oven like the last of the fireflies. They blacken and fall to the floor. To be swept up later.

"When's he going to get here?"
(Georgian Mother for "shut the fuck up.")

It's creeping up on 11 PM. The snow is devouring everything. My arrival ever more unlikely. It's possible, Host Brother thinks, that I won't show up at all. It's possible that I never existed in the first place. He plays basketball with himself as obnoxiously as he can until he wears himself out. Host Dad is still watching The News. Host Brother gives up. He sits down on the futon next to his mom until she threatens to kiss him on the cheek, then he runs to his and his sister's room and locks the door behind him and hides out there for the remainder of the night.

Round about midnight, a profoundly bearded American shows up at the doorstep with two bags of luggage. That's me. Me and Host Dad get wine drunk together. Nobody has to work the next day. But everybody has to work the next day. Because everybody has to work every day in Georgia. Because every day in Georgia is a piece of work. Host Brother in the next room listens to us talking through the wall and wonders what I'm going to be like. Neither of us have ever had a brother before.

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