September 11 has come to signify an unspeakable horror, that’s hard to even think about. But I am lucky, because it also happens to be my nephew Craig’s birthday, so I always have something pleasant to turn to on 9/11. He’s turning 22 today, which is really hard to believe. He’s a senior at the University of Pittsburgh. The word I use most often to describe him is affable. He’s just an affable guy, and charms everyone he meets. He’s also, like both his siblings, super smart and very funny. He always, always makes me laugh. He does a Bill Murray impersonation that is so good that Bill Murray would be confused as to who’s who. He’s especially good with re-enacting a few classic Caddyshack scenes*. We both love the movie Office Space and he does a mean Lumbergh** too.
I always have fun when I’m hanging out with Craig. When he was about 8 years old, I was sitting in the family room with my sister-in-law, and out of nowhere he and several of his buddies come tumbling into the room, sweaty, all of them wearing what appeared to be bridesmaid dresses, dirty tube socks and carrying toys like a bow and arrow and his very favorite light sword. In between laughing really hard, my sister-in-law somehow managed to snap a picture of the boys that I believe is on their refrigerator to this very day. Nowadays he is nice enough to encourage me when I try to be cool and say something like fo’ shizzle. He teaches me “new” slang as soon as it’s out of fashion. I’m not exactly sure what the deal was, but somehow Craig acquired the nickname eggy nuggin when he was a kid. I think it’s safe to say that absolutely everyone in his neighborhood, and beyond, still refer to him as The Nuggin (new-gn) now and then. More often than not, I just call him duuuuude, so he knows I’m cool and all. Out of all three kids, I would say Craig is the least embarrassed of me when I meet his friends. Either that or he just doesn’t show it, but either way it’s nice.
Craig is very athletic and loves all sports. He’s the reason ESPN has an 18 channel franchise with 24/7 “sports.” Honestly, if the only thing to watch on ESPN is NCAA frog-tossing, that’s what Craig will be watching. He will be able to give you all the stats for each player, not to mention the frogs. The only time Craig is not tossing or kicking a ball or shadow boxing or constantly moving is when he’s asleep. He was born into a diehard Redskin family, and he has definitely kept up his part of the bargain. I love watching games with him because he is typically able to predict what’s going to happen with each play. “I think they’re gonna go for the famous whatchamahoozit pass…yep! Did you see that?” I always tell him that all I saw was somehow another guy got the ball and started running. Other than that, all details are fuzzy.
Growing up, Craig was a straight up happy kid. Still is in fact. When he was about 12 Dan and I were staying with him and his siblings so his parents could take a little getaway. Between their complicated activity schedules, car pools and the standard teenage angst of my niece, who was about 15 at the time, we were just a little overwhelmed (and hat’s off to all the parents that do this stuff all the time!). It was very unusual for him, but one day Craig started nagging me about something. In a state of despair I said “Craig, I have my hands full here. Do you think you could be a brat some other time?” He thought about it for a minute, then said “sure, OK” and went on his merry way. He’s still holding that raincheck. Last year, when he turned 21, I somehow in my head thought he was turning 20. This could be because he made himself a year older on Facebook for a while so I was subtracting. So he posts something last year about finally turning 21. I send him a snarky little email telling him he’s not fooling anyone. Craig never said a word, but then I told my brother about it, who clued me in that Craig was right and I was…whatever the opposite of right is. I lost some Aunt points there but I think I’m recovering.
I can’t possibly fit everything amazing about Craig into a little blog post, but until I write a book about him this will have to suffice.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to watch him grow up into an amazing young man. Now I need to pull out a box of tissues, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and watch videos of him when he was little. Happy Happy Birthday Craig!
Carl Spackler, Caddyshack:
*“So, I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. So, I’m on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one – big hitter, the Lama – long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier. Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-lagunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, “Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.” And he says, “Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”
Meet Bill Lumbergh from Office Space:
**”Hello Peter, whats happening? Ummm, I’m gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow. So if you could be here around 9 that would be great, mmmk… oh oh! and I almost forgot ahh, I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday too, kay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up.”