Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I'm having a little trouble today getting going, wondering what my Little Brother, Jamie, must be doing right now on his first day of Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio. Yesterday, he and five other recruits squeezed into a nondescript office in eastern Vegas to be sworn in. Then we all went to the Buffet Asia, a Chinese buffet place that Jamie's step-grandfather chose and paid for. (Weird sighting: Legendary art critic Dave Hickey and his wife, former Las Vegas Art Museum director Libby Lumpkin, having lunch.)
No, Jamie's not my son. But he has been my "kid" since he was 6. He made the decision to enlist not out of some overwhelming sense of patriotism but for the same reasons that prompt so many other young kids: He was utterly failed by the public education system and cannot afford college. He wants to do something with his life, and at 18 this is the best way he can think of moving forward.
Indulge me -- or don't -- but it's quite an emotional experience for all of us. It was only yesterday that we were sneaking into pools on the Strip for a pool-rating piece I did for the LA Times and others. Then he also came along to rate Vegas wildlife for the same papers a year or so later. And I had to defend my very right to be his Big Brother in the BBBS program against attacks by gaybashers on CNN along the way, too.
How did he go from this...
My favorite was this 1-minute video his mother made while I was living in China in 2001. I had totally forgotten all about it until just now. You can click on it to watch if you want:
I'm sure he'll do OK. But it's scary. Also scary: What all that candy's done to me! Time for a diet and some boot camp for me, too!