My Brother Brian

A couple years ago I wrote a blog entry with my big brother Mike* with the promise that I would someday do the same for my other brother Brian. I think I have put it off for so long because I am relatively similar to Brian, and the more similar one is to a person, the harder it is to have colorful commentary on said person. It’s hard to talk about anyone you’re very close to eloquently or objectively.

Alas, it’s December and it’s Christmas time, a time of year where I get nostalgic and reflective of Christmas past. Considering Brian was hugely instrumental in my childhood Christmas giddiness, and considering this is the first year we will not be sleeping under the tree around Christmas Eve (don’t worry Brian, this post isn’t meant to make you feel bad. We get you for Christmas Day, and it will be amaze-balls), this shift and inevitable acceptance of growing up has made me want to talk about my childhood and Brian’s role in it.

So that is what I’m going to write about today.

Here’s hoping it’s good.

Brian is my other big brother, though he will be the first to say he is not as big as our rugby playing Mike.  Mike is the eldest Tafel child; he was born and then 13 months later Brian came along. The boys were so close in age many thought they were legit twins, not just Irish ones. They really are two peas in a pod, the ultimate of close brothers.  Though they have similar passions in sports, the outdoors, and education, and though they both embody what I have dubbed “the Tafel Temperament” (loud/jovial/scary/fun/outgoing/passionate/short fused yet easily happy) Michael and Brian have grown up into very different people.

Namely, Brian is a lot like me. Mike is not so much. (See other blog.*)

It’s odd that Brian and I share so many similarities, because growing up I don’t remember wanting to be like Brian. Sure he was cool older brother, but I don’t recall trying to embody “the essence of Brian” or anything like that. In my eyes, Mike and Brian were in their little world of club soccer and geography bees, where I was in the land of theater and spending a large quantity of my day talking to myself in funny accents.

But the fact remains Brian and I are undoubtedly related, sometimes painstakingly so.


Brian loves being the center of attention.  He loves doing what it takes to get the laugh. He also thinks he’s very, very funny, just like I know I am very, very funny.

Brian has dry wrinkly hands, his feet can smell, and his facial features most resemble mine (except for my inability to get a tan).

Brian was an A+ student. He was always taking the smart kid classes in school and was a permanent staple on the honor roll. I got good grades too.  I hate to admit that Brian is naturally smarter than me, so I won’t. He’s smart.

Brian is a proud winner and a sore loser, and if he loses he will figure out any reason why there was an unfair advantage toward the winner. I can’t tell you how many times Brian has told me I got “the easy questions” when I was doing well at Trivial Pursuit. Likewise, I HATE feeling stupid and I HATE losing, which is a really unfortunate quality considering I have no athletic ability whatsoever. Brian at least wins once a lot. I’m a chronic sulker.

Brian: Coaching :: Alison : Comedy. Brian wants to be the best at what he does and work incredibly hard at it. This goes from when he played soccer as a child to when he coached in grad school. Whatever he wants to do, he wants to do well. And he has a massive amount of pride in the process.

Brian is in the midst of his career journey. Me too!

Brian likes learning, and thinks trivia is fascinating.

Brian is stubborn.

Brian cares about family.

Brian is a romantic.  

Brian likes super fun times and inside jokes.

Brian is driven.

Brian is spoiled.

Brian is a hard worker.

Brian likes deep, intellectual conversations.  

Brian rolls his eyes at stupidity.

Brian hates the movie Because I Said So starring Mandy Moore and Diane Keaton.

Brian has a big heart.

It should be no surprise that I look up to my brother, and I attribute much of my gumption and drive to the gumption and drive he showcased growing up. I always wanted Brian’s approval. I always wanted to make Brian laugh. And on occasion, he humored me with a nod or a thumbs up.  Those thumbs up are probably the reason I discovered comedy.

And yet, despite all these similarities, Brian and I still manage to be on different planets.


Brian lives in Grand Junction, CO population 60,000. I live in Los Angeles, CA population 3.85 Million.

Brian went to the beautiful and private Colorado College in Colorado Springs. I went to Arizona State University, which at the time was the number one party school in the country according to Playboy.

Brian got his degree in History and then went on to get his masters in Sports Pedagogy. My degree is in Theatre (spelt with an “re” to sound more important).

Brian was much more popular and cool than I was in high school.

Brian is a fast runner. I’m slow as fuck.

Brian is an all around a fantastic athlete, and his handwriting is nicer than mine too.

Brian likes whiskey. I can only handle whiskey if it is a 7 and 7.

Brian teaches high school history and is the head coach of Palisade High School’s Basketball Program. I’m scared of high schoolers and don’t know how to do a lay-up.

Brian doesn’t like email. I check mine multiple times a day.

Brian likes to dance and he likes karaoke. I better be good and drunk to do either.

Brian is really in to fantasy sports. I don’t know how to play football.

Brian doesn’t like soup. I love soup.

Brian is laid back when it’s time to be laid back. I’m incredibly anxious all the time.

Brian has an infinite sense of cool, a moral code of conduct, and thorough argument with how to live your life happy and successfully. I am still figuring out my “code.”

I think in terms of brother/sisterly relationships, Brian is definitely more of the brotherly type. While Mike was my distant, mysterious old brother who I became closer to in adulthood, Brian filled the role of brother that drove me crazy, brother I would fight with, and brother who would pick on me constantly. Even through adulthood Brian has taken the role of critic, and I’ve always found his honesty with me and my work refreshing, even if as a child I wanted to wring his neck.

And boy did I ever. If ever there was a time Brian was pissing me off, I remember closing my eyes, clenching my fists, and screaming at the top of my lungs, “LEAVE …ME…ALOOOOONE.”

Screaming was my only line of defense.

That said, when the bad was bad, the good was good too. I loved when Brian and I just hung out as children. It was rare to have days of friendship with him considering Brian had the built in best friend with our older brother, but I was happy to play second fiddle to Michael if Mike wasn’t around.

And most of those bonding times, the times Michael more or less peaced out, were at Christmas.

Michael likes Christmas, but growing up Brian and I LOVED it. We liked the picture books, the décor, the taped TV specials, the cassette tapes, and the food. (No joke, I once saw Brian single handedly devour a box of croissants in once movie binging sitting). Christmas is such an interesting time because only a few people really shared the tiny experiences you did as a child, and I think of all the people in all the world, Brian is the only one who knew what my Christmas was like. Sure my mom and dad were there, but they were playing Santa, not wishing for him. And yes Mike enjoyed the season, but Brian and I went batshit overboard with it. It’s like Brian saw Christmas through my eyes.

Brian’s favorite ornament, and I remember this, was a red wooden airplane. He would take it off the tree and fly it around, rescuing and/or helping other ornaments with their ornamental needs. I would try to play too, but I just had a shitty tin airplane ornament. One with a shitty squirrel who was shittily waving instead of paying attention to flying like a good pilot would. Brian and I would rock out to Dan Crow’s Christmas album, aptly titled Santa Songs, and we’d act out the Chipmunks to our hearts delight.

To this day the Muppet Family Christmas special is near and dear to our hearts. Not only can we recite the whole special, we can recite the Playskool and McDonalds commercials that are on our old VHS tape along with it. (P.S. you guys, Oreo ads back then were the bomb).  And even in all the whining and poking and tongue sticking outing, those happy times are what I remember when I think of Brian today. I see my brother who knows what “Careful of the icey patch” means.

It’s because Brian made Christmas important that I think I make Christmas important today. He always wanted to be the candy winner in the advent calendar even though it was split evenly among us kids. He always wanted the chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. He always wanted to the “the elf” who passes out the presents on Christmas morning.

And that twinkle exists with him now. I hope he never loses that. And I hope someday he passes that sense of awe and wonder on to his kids.

One time Brian told me that the divers at Denver’s famous Casa Bonita died the moment they hit the water and I believed him and it ruined Casa Bonita for me.  He says he doesn’t remember that but I know I’m not making that shit up.

One time Brian did what is now known as the butt dance. It’s on video, and my Aunt Hilda brings it up every family reunion.

One time Brian took me out to Chipotle when I was thirteen to tell me that kids drink in high school, just to save me the embarrassment of my naivety.  Thank God he did.

One time Brian saw me having a panic attack at school, so he drove me home, told me it was okay I was missing fourth block, and he told me to chill out for once in my life. I did.

One time Brian invited me to a college party in Boulder that resulted in me meeting the man who has been my boyfriend for the last seven and a half years.

One time Brian visited me right before college graduation and partied with me for a week straight.

A few times Brian and I laughed our way through terrible movies, adding witty banter and commentary that made us almost pee our pants.

Many times Brian and I slept by the Christmas tree, spending most of the night talking about everything and nothing.

Twice Brian and I, along with Mike, went on a Christmas Eve walk in the snow at midnight, doing more of the same.

And now we’re grown up. Mike’s engaged. Brian’s got a girl. I got my guy. We’re all juggling families this holiday season and I’m selfishly sad we’re no longer kids playing with our airplane ornaments. On the bright side, it’s good to know my brothers have grown up to be wonderful men, and I am excited for them to show their Christmas excitement to their respective spouses.

Brian all at once drives me insanely nuts and makes me incredibly proud. Like any older brother should. Just don’t challenge him to a game of trivia.

– One L

Hey! This is my last blog to of the year everybody! Happy Holidays and see you in 2014!

“This is the WORST movie I have ever seen.” “The worst.” “This is fucking terrible.” – Brian while sitting behind a group of girls in a movie theater watching Because I Said So.



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