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The Blueberry Muffin Brothers

The Blueberry Muffin Brothers

Hello and good day!

Please allow me to establish a few facts up front, before I delve into the story that I'd like to unfold for you.

Bethany Bethson was a student teacher who worked in my fourth-grade class for a semester. She was young and sweet and pretty. She had a southern California tan, sandy blonde hair, and a loud raspy laugh that the whole class loved to hear.

All the boys had a crush on Ms. Bethson, and the girls were crazy about her too, and we all did our best to tell funny jokes so that we could hear her strange throaty laugh and see her brilliant white teeth.

My brother Brian is 14 years older than me.

We have the same mom and different dads.

My mom and Brian's dad were divorced when Brian was 3 years old.

My mom gave up on love after the divorce and had a tubal ligation.

These seemed like pretty fair reasons for Brian to assume that he would always be an only child.

When Brian was ten, my mom and dad got together. Brian got a new stepdad out of the deal.

My mom reversed her tubal ligation, and I was conceived a few years later.

Brian unexpectedly became an older brother at age 14 and he was thrilled about it.

My bro and I have been bosom buddies since day one.

He has always been my hero and I've always been his little man, even though I am six inches taller than him now and I outweigh him by 50 pounds.

Brian joined the army when he was 18 and for those three years, I didn't see him very much.

After the army, he moved back to San Diego and enrolled in college with the GI Bill. He worked as a valet for the hotel that my dad owned at the time and went to school.
I got to see Brian a lot during that period, and I was in heaven.

Because of our age difference, and because of how much we liked each other, I was one of the few kids whose older brother came to the elementary school to volunteer from time to time.

One day we had an international food exhibition in our class. Students brought in food that was representative of their cultural heritage.

The teachers asked if any of our family members could volunteer to help out and Brian signed up.

The tables were set up around the perimeter of the classroom. We walked around with plates and served ourselves egg rolls, and pot stickers, and lasagna, and enchiladas.

Back at my desk, I was sitting next to one of my buddies.

We were eating and enjoying ourselves when we heard a ruckus coming from the corner of the room.

We looked over and saw Ms. Bethson slapping Brian on the shoulder and cackling at full volume.

My buddy elbowed me.

"Looks like your brother is having some luck over there," he said.

"Looks like it," I replied.

I felt very proud of my bro in that moment.

It was street cred for me that Brian was comporting himself well with Ms. Bethson.

I figured my classmates would understand that such potent charm must run in the family.

The event wound down.

Brian took off.

We finished the school day, and I went home.

Early the next morning, Brian pulled up in front of our house in his beat up old red Toyota pickup truck.

It was a hot and sunny morning. He honked and I came out to the street.

"What's up bro?" I asked.

"Come on. I'm taking you to school today," said Brian.

"You are?"

I was very happy to spend time with Brian two days in a row.

"I am. Come on kid. Let's go," he said.

I ran inside, grabbed my stuff, ran back out, and jumped in the truck.

When we pulled up in front of the school, Brian handed me a heavy brown paper shopping bag. I saw flowers on top and beneath the flowers were two heavy bulges that I couldn't identify.

"What's this?" I asked.

"It's for Ms. Bethson. Listen closely. I want you to give her the bag and this envelope."

He handed me a card in a blue envelope.

He had written "From Brian" on the outside and drawn a heart with an arrow through it.

"That's it?" I asked.

"That's it. And I am going to pick you up after school today so that you can tell me how it went."

Pick me up too? This was serious business.

Before class, we had to form a line and wait on the playground blacktop for a teacher to come take us in.

When my classmates saw the bag and I told them that it was for Ms. Bethson from my brother, the taunting began.

"Adam's brother loves Ms. Bethson. Adam's brother loves Ms. Bethson," they sang.

Finally, our teacher came.

First thing upon entering the classroom, I walked straight to Ms. Bethson and gave her the note and the bag. She smiled her white toothed smile at me and it gave me butterflies in my stomach.

"What's this?" she asked.

"From my brother Brian," I said.

I walked back to my desk and settled in.

At the end of the day, Ms. Bethson tapped me on the shoulder.

"Give this to your brother please. He is such a sweetheart."

She handed me a folded-up paper note. I stuffed it in my pocket.

After school, Brian was waiting for me at the pickup spot.

"Come on, get in," he hurried me.

I gave him the note and he read it while we sat there.

"What does it say?" I asked.

He read it a second time before answering.

"It says that I am sweet, and she would definitely go out with me, but she already has a boyfriend."

"What were the heavy things in the bottom of the bag?" I asked.

"They were gigantic blueberry muffins. I told her yesterday that I know the best blueberry muffin place in town. I went this morning and bought those before picking you up. The card was asking her if she wanted to have breakfast with me there sometime. I guess that won't be happening."

We drove home in silence.

The next day all my friends wanted to know what happened and I had to admit that my brother had struck out.

That hurt my street cred quite a bit. My family now had a swing and a miss on its record. We apparently weren't as charming as we thought we were.

Later down the line, I found out that Ms. Bethman's boyfriend and eventual husband was an all-star first baseman with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

When I told Brian who he had lost out to, he felt better about it. At least he didn't lose to some schlub.

Now here is the point I want to make.

The same gumption that gave Brian the courage to ask out the pretty student teacher, is also what made him the only person I know who could move out to the northern Peruvian jungle and establish a cacao buying and processing operation as a complete unknown outsider.

I could write you an incredible list of our business failures over the years.

But all of the failures have been offset by one important quality that my dad and brother possess in tremendous quantities.

Naive, unabashed courage.

My dad and brother tried over and over again to get an enduring family business up and running.

They kept failing and kept trying and eventually our chocolate business was the result.

My bro is still my hero.

I bet he hasn't thought about striking out with Ms. Bethson in more than 30 years.

This is the downside of having a younger brother.

We are genetically wired to give our older siblings a hard time.

Thank you so much for time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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