The closest person to a sibling - I called him brother - was my male cousin, who was 10 years older than me, the boy of my mother's sister.
His father was a very tall and almost excessively masculine Greek guy, who was killed in a restaurant knife fight when my cousin was a young boy. His stepfather was a calmer Jewish guy, whom he never really accepted as a father figure.
Growing up, my cousin was not interested in academic achievements, belonged to a privileged bad-boys crowd both in school and college, but liked to build model military boats. His mom, my aunt, made good money, so he had awesome clothes and the newest gadgets.
He had such a huge sex appeal that girls would not leave him along since his teens. Never again I had witnessed as an insider such a mass interest by young females to a guy: from giggling and crying on the phone to almost stocking and offering all possible favors. These early experiences gave him an impression that most girls were sluts, so he made a point to marry a beautiful virgin. His wedding was enormous. After they had a daughter, his wife left him, taking their 4-year old girl with her to Italy.
After becoming at first successful and then disastrous entrepreneur, my handsome cousin drunk himself to death in his early forties. On his way down, he brought lots of grief to his mom and our grandmother, who probably overcompensated in accommodating him. They were also partially ruined financially, paying his dangerous debts. Even my mom overused her resources to bail him out of trouble with semi-criminal businesses when, for instance, when his railroad wagon with goods got lost, or when he crashed his car. She was also the one who tried to keep him alive in the veryy end. Technically, he died from a flu.
This is how my closest cousin influenced my life:
- Year after year, I received his cool old pullovers and jackets. Because of my wearing his clothing and the fact that I used to have a short haircut for some reason, people usually would tell my parents that their boy was nice, pointing at me. Probably because of that, I am especially happy now to be able to wear skirts and long hair.
- I stayed in his room one Summer, right after the onset of my puberty, and his video collection of porn taught me a few cultural lessons. I still don't know how I could ever get attracted to German guys after that, and never even considered more playful Italians.
- He was one real example of substance abuse in my family. Observing the change in his mind over time played a huge role in my internal rejection of people who had any tendencies toward such self-medication.
- In his younger years he had an easy-going attitude towards life, supported by silly jokes and lovely smiles, and it was precious to me for balancing my father's heavy spleen.
- I cared for him, and I lost him too early to his bitterness and abhorrent self-destruction.