The responsibilities that come with being a brother — even one 20 years the senior — are vastly different from my experiences as a father, uncle and any other role in my life where I’m expected to be the adult caring for a child, setting an example and being sensible and mature. As a brother, I’m allowed to be a peer, to overlook some misbehavior and maybe even encourage it. As a brother, I get to be one of the guys, snickering at all things immature, crude, silly and mischievous. I get to keep secrets, indulge in acts I should probably think better of, and hide mischief.
It’s that relationship that led me to San Francisco on a rainy, but oddly warm Friday night to see Young Thug and 21 Savage at The Warfield, in a night that became a family affair and a chance for bonding with my sibling that I rarely get to have anymore.
Initially the idea was that my 10-year-old son would accompany me to see his two favorite artist not named Lil Uzi Vert in concert. Cloaked in the excuse that is “work” I presented the idea to his mother, and after plenty of deliberation, it was decided -– rightfully so, I must add –- that a rap concert on a Friday night was no place for a 5th grader. The cloud of weed smoke that encompasses every show I go to was a deterrent, as was the mere concept of our not-yet-a-preteen out partaking in adult behavior among actual adults. So in an effort to maintain some semblance of his childhood, and to keep our baby a baby for as long as possible, we decided against it, much to his dismay. Boy was he pissed.
But my brother? The one with the new voice and the slightest remnants of a mustache protruding out of his upper lip? Well if he got permission from my grandma and dad he was good to go, and lo and behold, Friday afternoon I received the phone call that allowed little Carlos to hang with big bro and enjoy a night in Frisco with Thug and 21.
See, in my family I’m the oldest, the responsible one with a neat job who makes my Lita smile and my dad proud. So a night out with me? Even despite everything they’d imagine happens at rap concerts? Well that was fine with them because “Baby Eddie” — as they call me — would never let anything happen to their baby.
So off we went, my 12-year-old brother, my 16-year-old brother and I, to the city, for a night of the unknown. It was Carlos’ first concert, and he had no idea what he was in for. He didn’t bother to charge his phone, but quietly, and without announcing it, he dressed to the nines, wore his newest and most expensive shoes and he might have even showered. You never know with little boys.
What must be understood about Carlos is he’s exactly like every other pubescent 12-year-old: He thinks he’s too cool for everything. He’s quiet, awkward even though he doesn’t realize it and barely registers emotion, struggling to smile in pictures and never really letting loose, even when he’s with his brothers.
Surely he thinks my 16-year-old brother is cool, with his girlfriend who has a car, and his expensive shoes and spot on the high school basketball team. But I’m not so sure what he thinks of me, since he’s always so guarded. Maybe I’m the cool older brother too, the guy who listens to all the dope music and knows a lot about basketball. Or maybe I’m the 31-year-old dad trying too hard, who doesn’t quite fit in with a younger crowd no matter how much Nike Tech Fit I buy, or how many pairs of Yeezys and LeBrons I rock. I don’t know, but perspective is everything in life.