As a teenager, my brother offered little advice as I navigated my way towards adulthood. I was not his favorite person after I usurped his position as the baby of the family. But there was one thing I could count on. He would defend me to anyone outside the family who he perceived meant me harm. I won’t pretend to understand him and this weird cognitive dissonance. But I appreciated what passed for him caring about me. Even if it just came in brief flashes.
When the time came for boys to begin to call, my brother, surprisingly, took a keen interest. I think he viewed my reputation as an extension of his own. Thus his role in the vetting of any potential boyfriend would naturally fall to him. I remember when the first boy asked me out, my brother approached him in the halls at school. Since we were mere sophomores and my brother was a senior, he held the high ground.
‘When you pick my sister up, you come to the door and knock. If you honk the horn and expect her to come out, you’ll be waiting a long time. Show some respect.’
And to me he laid down the law. ‘You will not go out with anyone who doesn’t come to the door.’
The first boy was intimidated by my brother, who would later become a director of rather dark films. Even back then he knew how to frighten people.
Since we moved to the farm I think of my brother almost every day when a horn honks at the gate. But not because I’m going out on dates. It’s because everyone who drives through the gate, for nearly any reason, honks their horn. Correos, DHL, GLS. Seur, and on and on. Including rando taxis delivering Amazon orders. It’s a thing, summoning you outside. I’m used to it now.
But today it was a strange car. It pulled in and stopped out by the food truck. Not usual delivery guy behavior. Especially in a monsoon. Then it honked, but the driver didn’t get out. It was pouring rain on the window as I looked out. Jeff was on a conference call. I frowned. I have orders coming tomorrow from El Corte Ingles. And the guy setting up my new bankcard machine is coming some time tomorrow, too. But, for the first time in a long time, I have no other outstanding orders.
I pulled on a hoody and ran out as the man finally emerged. He was ready for my sad Spanish, explaining he heard we need a large item rubbish pick up. He works for the city of Palas de Rei and, apparently, lives down the lane from us. He wanted to see what we want hauled away so they can send the right sized truck. I took him to the barn and showed him the first pile. Then I showed him the old batteries and paint cans, and tractor oil left by the previous owners. He nodded; they will take it all. He will text me before the guys come later this week.
Juan ran back to his car in the deluge. I ran to the house, smiling. My brother was right about boys and respect, all those years ago. But he was wrong about the meaning of a honking horn. In Galicia, a honking horn is a good thing. It means forward progress. Problems solved. But, wait a minute. <eyes narrowing> Who told that guy I needed a large rubbish pick up? The neighbor grapevine? Hmm… never mind. It all needs to go. And you know what? I don’t even want to know.