Thursday, January 23, 2020

"The Brotherly Test"

Earlier this month (January the Sixth), my brother had a humorous commentary published in The New Yorker magazine, chronicling “The Untold Story” of Albert Einstein.

I was not sure how I would feel about that.  Over the years, I had submitted several commentaries to The New Yorker, and had had all of them rejected.  In response to my submissions, I received a quarter of a piece of paper that essentially said “No.”  It could have been smaller – how much paper does “No” take?  A rolled-up fortune cookie message:  “No!”  Who knows?  Maybe the really bad submissions received that, and I was proportionally honored by the rejecting quarter of a page.   

Anyway, that happened, “that” being my brother’s noteworthy achievement.  And I was curious how I’d react.  I knew I would inevitably find out, because companion to “How do I know what I think till I hear what I say?” there is “How do I know how I feel till I see what I do?”

So what did I do?

When the family arrived the weekend after the publication, I found myself standing at the front door, clutching the New Yorker in my non-door-opening hand, my extended index finger “bookmarking” the relevant page, figuratively if not literally frantically jumping up and down.

I could not wait to show it around.

My daughter Anna was excited just seeing the name.  After reading it, my two sons-in-law pronounced the work consecutively “great” and “very witty.”   It’s a shame my family’s not bigger.  I’d have shown it to them too!

Ever-loyal Anna suggested I should now “top” him.  (Ignoring my entire career in the process.)  But I knew that was not necessary.

In the smoldering “Battle of the Brothers” our mother had already made the determining call.

And here’s how.

As a young adult, my brother boldly announced:  

“I’m going to be a comedian.”

To which my mother reflexively replied,

“Who do you think you are, Jerry Lewis?”

Later, at a similar age, I, though certainly less boldly, announced:

“I’m going to be a comedian.”

To which our mother reflexively replied,

“Who do you think you are, Jack Benny?”

Our mother, always astute in these matters, had made the distinguishing decision, which was this:

She believed I wasn’t a better comedian than my brother wasn’t.

So I won.

As for his appearance in New Yorker – which I commend to your attention – I can feel it right now –

The electric grin on my face that says,

“Nice goin’!”

Is there envy?


Feelings of competitiveness?

Of course.

But topping everything else by miles, there is…

“Pomerantz Pride.”  

Hm.  I wonder if they’d be interested in this.  A brother’s reaction to…

“Stop it!”



JED said...

Just so those without a The New Yorker subscription can read it:

Mel said...

Enjoyed the piece in the New Yorker, but the real news to me is that it's still in print. So very many have gone digital, or just gone.

Forgot to mention that a few weeks ago I happened to catch one of your Bob Newhart Shows. It featured one of my favorite actors, Richard Libertini. Well done to you and Mr. Twillmer.