My oldest brother’s first name is Orvis, which is kind of unusual. What’s more unusual is his full name: Orvis T. Wade Jr. The “T” doesn’t stand for anything like the “S” in Harry S. Truman.
When my three other brothers and I were kids, we couldn’t pronounce “junior” so even though he’s now 53 we still call him by his childhood name “Juer.” For years I spelled it “Jewer,” but it started to look really close to being politically incorrect and my wife Beth suggested the alternate spelling.
The only other Orvis besides my late father I’ve come across is the high-end fishing equipment and sporting goods company. Ironically one of their signature products are rubber . . . wait for it . . . Orvis Waders.
One more fun fact about my brother’s name: the chorus of Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way” (not the Run-DMC remake) sounds just like they are saying “Orvis Wade” eight times. I kid you not and you will never hear it the other way again.
Juer has always been the funniest person I know. I remember as a kid, he spent a week at Idlewild Christian Camp in Virginia and on Friday night the families went to watch the different cabins perform funny skits. Well, Juer’s cabin just let him do a solo improv set, ala the late Jonathan Winters, and it was hysterical.
I wanted to be like him as little brothers often do. My younger brother Kelvin wrote a column recently where he said he developed a taste for rock ‘n’ roll music from me. Well, I got it from Juer. In addition to funk and soul, he listened to Elton John and Wings and I picked up on it.
When our parents were gone, my brothers and I would have intense battles that could last all day and foster much resentment. Juer participated in the sibling warfare, but always kept an ear out for my dad’s Peugeot arriving with our folks.
When they drove up, he would alert us to the impending danger. We would all get whuppings if caught in battle mode. Juer would yell “Red Alert! Mom and Dad are home! Nobody tells on nobody, right?” We’d then shift into cold war détente until the next flare-up.
Other Juer tidbits:
· Once, unbeknownst to me, he’d steamed open my letter from the DMV with my driver’s license in it. When I looked at the back, the specific organs he’d typed in that I’d agreed to donate in case of my death read: ”left big toe, right ear lobe and nostrils.” It later got me out of a speeding ticket when a Fairfield cop cracked up upon seeing it.
Juer has been married for 30 years to his wife Patty, works for the California Highway Patrol, has an MBA and is on the Suisun City Planning Commission. I am beyond proud.
Growing up, a bear hug from my big brudda felt like the safest place on Earth and it still does.
He still occasionally does the Bugs Bunny smooch thing and I don’t even mind that now.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.