And if I ever want to find out, I’ll watch the movie

It’s 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning and the brother and I are sitting in his dentist’s office. I’m poring through National Geographic and Sports Illustrated, shivering from time to time because I’m sitting right beneath the air-conditioning vent. (Who in their right freakin’ mind turns on the AC at 9 a.m.?) He’s sitting next to me, scribbling down notes for…what? a short story? a film script? This boy never goes anywhere without pen and paper. When inspiration strikes, he’s always prepared. These days, I’m finding we have a lot more in common than I would have ever imagined.

From time to time, we glance over at each other and crinkle our noses or shrug our shoulders in response to the silence in the waiting room. The only other people there are a middle-aged couple sitting across from us and an old lady a few seats down, all of them staring intently either at magazines or the ground, as if making eye contact with strangers would kill them.

The door is opened, the brother’s name finally called. “Good luck, buddy,” I say, patting him on the back. He stuffs his pen and scraps of paper in his pockets, his tall frame crossing the room to where the dentist’s assistant stands waiting with her clipboard and professionally solemn expression.

At the door, he stops abruptly and turns back to me. “If I don’t come back,” he drawls gruffly, his arms spread out theatrically, “…SELL THE DOG!” The couple across from me start guffawing. Even the little old lady cracks a smile. I slump in my chair, giggling uncontrollably. “Don’t worry,” I manage to gasp, “I’ll make sure to properly dispense of your possessions.”

“And…and…!” he continues dramatically, still in character, “Tell everyone I love ‘em!” I shake my head, still giggling, as the door closes behind him.

“Is he getting his wisdom teeth pulled?” asks the man across from me knowingly. I nod. For the next several minutes, the waiting room is filled with laughing glances and barely suppressed grins and chuckles.

It’s a gift he has, making strangers smile.

Afterwards, his mouth stuffed with gauze so that he can barely speak coherently, he turns to pen and paper once again. “Did they laugh?” he scribbles, then shoves the paper across the table at me. I grin and recount, with sufficient glee, all the reactions he missed. He mumbles disdainfully, “The assistant actually asked me, ‘Are you really selling your dog?’” I laugh harder.

Later in the morning, I introduce him to Switchfoot, whom he finds intriguing. During the afternoon, he urges me watch the music video for Junoon’s Ghoom Tana and patiently helps out with Windows Media Player’s issues. This is my spiky-orange-haired brother we’re talking about, the one who absolutely loves the Pixies and tells me about random, obscure bands I’ve never heard of before, so I’m amazed at this newfound “ethnically aware” side to him. I counter that the music video for Fuzon’s Khamaj is cooler, “cooler” being Yasmine-speak for “this is the only other desi music video I’ve voluntarily watched in the past five years even though I have absolutely no idea who Fuzon is,” so we check out that one in turn. Since it’s shot in black-and-white, and the video concept has to do with auditions, directors, and films, he’s suitably impressed. I tease him for stealing the daddy-o’s old “Best of Muhammad Rafi” cassettes. He shares his pudding and cinnamon applesauce and mint ‘n’ chip ice cream with us.

A good time is had by all.

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