“So how much money did my parents give you for the down payment on your house?”

It is an interesting quirk of my brother’s, this proprietary referral to our parents as his parents; I don’t think he is even aware of it.

“They didn’t,” I said.  It is another quirk of my brother’s, not ever wasting time on the niceties of social exchange at the beginning of phone calls.



“Well, I just wanted to know, because I’m going to withdraw some money from my parents’ account, and I didn’t want to take out too much. Or too little.  So I want to know how much they gave you, to make things equitable.”

“But even if they never gave you money, you have negative equity in their account,” he continued, thinking out loud.  As I said, my brother doesn’t believe in social niceties.

“The constituents at home are kinda upset about how much money my parents have given our brother.  So this will look like a present from grandparents to grandson.”

“And most of it is my money anyway,” he added.  “I have been giving money to my parents over the last 18 years, and you know what our brother does?  Every time he wants to eat out, he invites Dad, and when he and his family are done, he never reaches for the bill.  He waits for my Dad to pay.  I’ll tell you the last straw.  So I was talking to him one day on the phone, and I said, “You know Dad loves sushi, so why don’t you take him out for sushi one of these days?’  And he said sure, no problem.  Then two weeks later, he sent me a bill for two hundred dollars, because he had taken Dad out to sushi, and since it was my suggestion to begin with I should pay.  And that bill included dinner for his wife and three kids too!”

Usually after one of these conversations with either brother, I wonder which of us is from a different planet.  My older brothers are both multi-millionaires, and they are feuding over who is more entitled to the parents’ comparatively meager retirement savings.

There’s a reason I live in a different state.

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