I realized by age 11 or so my little cousin Ricky wasn’t quite right. Rick was inexplicably ginger headed, uncharacteristically (for our family at least) “rough,” leaving in his wake a mess of self-inflicted injuries and property degradation like a fire crotched Gronkowski sibling.
When I was 12 I watched the then 9-year-old Ricky drink an entire bottle of Chulula hot sauce in the Qdoba burrito line. When I was 14, Ricky took my father’s new car out for a joy ride, though he never made it past the closed garage door (the kid nearly asphyxiated). As a sophomore in high school, the literal scarlet letter of our family burned down the garage with a lit cigarette and misunderstanding of the term “flammable.” During his junior prom, a blacked out Ricky publicly urinated in the venue’s parking lot while proclaiming he was simply “power-washing” his own vomit, complete with the requisite sound effects. When I turned 20 I inadvertently discovered Ricky was adopted from an inebriated grandparent, rivaling several negative pregnancy tests for “most relieving moment” of my life.
Yet, almost undoubtedly through nepotism, as a senior in college I received a text message I never could have imagined from my mother: “Rick just got into [redacted] and he really wants to join your fraternity.” Shocked, as this was the first time I had ever received a text from my mother (who still has a flip phone), I found myself entering the fall semester in an unenviable position, putting my support behind Ricky within our chapter, even as I personally held serious reservation regarding the inclusion of the live action Chuckie Finster into our ranks. If you don’t get that reference, you weren’t a kid in the ’90s.
As my parents are the one fear I still harbor more so than an unplanned pregnancy, I gave in and took the red bastard under my wing. Early on, things weren’t all that bad. Ricky turned out to be somewhat truthful in his regaling of high school times past, able to drink beyond my own middling tolerance, while hilariously blunt in his “pursuit” of women. In his first visit to our preferred local watering hole, using an ID I had secured for him with the name “Seth Green,” Ricky made a name for himself with his now infamous pick-up line repertoire consisting of several variations of “hey, would you maybe wanna have sex with me or something?” followed by a burp and involuntary lean against any steadying surface nearby.
The kid’s success rate hovered well below the Mendoza line, but it’s hard not to appreciate that sort of candor from an 18-year-old ginger.
By the end of the pledge process, Ricky was a proverbial lock. As is tradition, our chapter rented a boat in the local marina for what had mercifully been rebranded from a “Boats and Hoes” to a “Yacht Formal” as the relevance of Stepbrothers faded towards obscurity. Ricky, though once responsible for the large-scale destruction of our grandfather’s vessel (repeatedly breaking bottles of beer “for luck” across the bow), promised to behave himself somewhat responsibly for what would be essentially his final “audition” of the initiation process. Though I harbored my doubts, the end of what had been a trying pledge season, and the relief of Ricky refraining from soiling my own reputation with what I assumed would be horrific irresponsibly beyond the wildest interpretations of what constitutes a TFM, washed over me in an awesome wave as we boarded the boat.
This feeling, however, was short lived.
They say history is the best way to project future performance. Though usually applied to aging sluggers, the same usually holds true for drunken genetic mistakes. Ricky, apparently in an attempt to bankrupt our chapter through his inhuman abuse of the open bar, was inebriated to the point of total destruction before we had even left the dock. After setting sail and realizing the brown streaks in our wake were the product of Ricky and not the boat itself, I took the initiative to try and slow him down.
He turns to me with beer in each hand.
“Rick, I need you to slow the fuck down and relax for a minute.”
He looks perplexed.
“Relax? I’m relaxed as fuck, man.”
He drops the beer in his right hand, revolting my ocean front conquest in the process.
“Ricky, are you alright?”
He’s laughing hysterically, now seated in his own spilled beer on the deck of the boat.
“Come on, man.”
I try to help him up.
“Let’s get you some food and water inside.”
I helped Rick to his feet as he fell limp on my shoulder.
“No, man. Fuck this!”
He pushed me to the side.
“I’m not going out like this! I’m not losing! Fuck you.”
At this point I had absolutely no idea what the fuck Ricky was talking about, and, as is my nature, once someone basically tells me to go fuck myself, I’m checked out of concern for their well-being pretty quickly.
“Okay, man, you keep winning over here then.”
I went back to the party, attempting to appreciate what would be one of the final hoorahs of my undergraduate Greek festivities when I heard a shriek echo throughout the boat. Immediately, my cousin shot through my mind. What the fuck did he do?
I bolted for where I left Rick minutes earlier as a crowd of people formed around the developing spectacle, pushing through assorted bystanders trying to get a look at what had happened when Matt, our social chair, grabbed me by the lapel.
“Siblings! Your idiot cousin just Linda Blaire’d all over the fucking boat and they want to throw him out. Get him under control.”
He lets me go and I turn the corner and see him, slumped over on the side of the boat, what had to have been most of last night’s pad thai running down his jacket as his gyrations smeared the vile liquid farther across the deck.
“Jesus, Rick. Are you alright?”
Rick grunted in a somewhat approving manner.
“Okay, guys, nothing to see here. Just have to clean this up a bit.”
I’m motioning to the crowd to disperse, hoping to quickly hide the evidence and revive Ricky when he suddenly sits up.
“Clean this up?” he asks.
“I know how to clean this up.”
Ricky stands abruptly, swaying like the inflated green man outside a used car lot, when it hits me.
“Ricky, don’t you fucking dare.”
By the time it had registered, and half the staff had come up to the deck to see what the commotion was about, his micro-penis had already begun spraying.
“I’ll just power wash this shit!”
This is the true story of why our chapter no longer sets sail each year, and why my red-headed cousin Ricky is a fucking Pike..