“I’m a wretch!” Jimmy suddenly exclaimed to his older brother Roger.
“A wretch!?” Roger exploded. “Dammit, Jimmy, you’re one of the kindest, most thoughtful and loving people I’ve ever met!”
Jimmy broke down in the face of his brother’s praise. Roger embraced his little brother.
“Then how come,” Jimmy sobbed, “I feel like such a wretch?”
“Because you’ve got something inside you that wants you to be perfect,” Roger replied, “and no matter how good you are, you’ll never be good enough to satisfy it. At least not this side of the grave.”
Jimmy composed himself and, looking deep into his brother’s eyes, saw in the reflection of himself he there beheld Roger’s words to be true.
“And what about you?” he asked.
“Me?” Roger replied, “My inner-critic isn’t nearly so demanding. It will settle for considerably less than perfect.” Seeing the sudden look in Jimmy’s eyes, he added, “But that’s not all it’s cracked up to be either.” He opened the last Miller High Life and thoughtfully handed it to his baby brother.
“Thanks, Roger,” Jimmy said, and they both sat quietly contemplating for some time there by the bay.
© 1998 Bryan Patrick Deno
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