For those of you who aren't watching world events, you might not realize that massive protests are going on here in Bangkok--by the party called the Red Shirts, who want the Prime Minister ousted. They're Buddhist, though, so the protests are relatively peaceful. Disruptive--because they block traffic--but peaceful. At least so far.
On Friday while I was having lunch with my brother Randall at the embassy, the leaders of the Red Shirts (along with an estimated 3000 followers) came to the embassy and handed an official letter to the representatives of the U.S. government. I was there and got to see it all. (One of the leaders even shook my hand as she left. I think she thought I was much more important than I am.) As you can see in the photo, my brother took me by the hand, made me stand in front of the guards and protesters--all chanting in Thai their political slogans--and took my picture.
Because he is my Big Brother, I did it.
You shouldn't be surprised that I'd do something Randall tells me to do, even though my inclination is NOT to tick off the thousands of people who might think I'm mocking them and their beliefs. Randall has always gotten me to do things my better sense said not to. It's his gift.
Way back when I was four years old and had so many chicken pox on me that I looked hideous, he talked me into playing the monster in a neighborhood play he was putting on while my mother left me in his care. I hunched under a card table and growled. While it probably wasn't good for my fever, it was a worthy performance, I'm sure. The reviews were good.
I also remember holding up one end of a pole (who had the other?) in the blazing heat while he practiced high jumping over it. I once offered my Barbie doll for a firecracker experiments. She ended up scorched.
He refuses to let me be too "girly" and slack off. Once on the island of Dominica, we hiked what I consider the World's Hardest 9-hour Hike--through the Valley of Desolation to the Boiling Lake (no joke). After five or six hours, I refused to go any farther, threw myself spread eagle on a flat rock, and began crying--praying for a rogue helicopter to snatch me up into the sky. He didn't pamper me. As a matter of fact, he walked about 20 yards away and took my picture. Pitiful me--but after some water and food, he did convince me to finish the hike. Otherwise, my bones would still be there.
In short, it's hard to say no to my charismatic older brother. But to be fair, he also convinced me to get certified in scuba diving--a skill that has opened up whole new worlds for me and has given me so much peace in that space where the only sound I hear is bubbles. He's taken me to places on this Earth that I would never have gone without his protection and encouragement--Karachi, Pakistan, for one. It's a place I'm glad I saw but am even more glad I don't have to go back.
Once he even took me to the house where Edgar Allan Poe grew up, a neighborhood that is now probably one of the worst in Baltimore. (I swear people were smoking crack on the front steps of the house and selling babies near the gutter.) But I felt completely safe being there because my Big Brother was watching out for me.
Without him, I'd be less than I am. So if I have to pose in front of a few rioters once in a while, it's worth it. I know he's always got my back.