Something happens when my brother and I get together. We bring out the best of the worst in each other.

We were on our way to a funeral, for pity's sake! It was a solemn occasion and from time to time, both of us felt tearful and nostalgic. But in between these stretches of sadness were the islands of total "badness."

We were on our way, an hour and 45 minutes early, to the family visitation and the funeral following. We'd allowed extra time to take pictures along the way of the important landmarks of our childhood.

Normal people do this.

Normal people, I am sure, do not pretend to be mob-connected developers looking to make a deal the current homeowners can't refuse.

But when you are dressed like this:

Accompanied by an older sister who assures you that every syllable you utter is totally hysterical:

It is not hard to find yourself standing in front of what was once one of two outdoor barbecues at our old house, gesturing expansively toward what was once your house, and the surrounding parcels of land, and talking in a thick Italian accent.

I stand beside him in a calf-length black velvet skirt, ivory cowgirl boots and an ivory sweater, holding a camera with an obscenely big telephoto lens and aiming it at the bedraggled mansion that was once our home.

John has a way of adjusting the knot in his tie as he shifts to stand in what can only be described as a menacing posture, a "Hey, whadda you lookin' at?" challenge. The fact that my brother wouldn't harm a flea is beside the point. When he slicks back his hair with gel, lifts a shaggy eyebrow and frowns, it looks like trouble waiting to happen.

When you see these two people aiming a telephoto lens at your new home, circling from all the surrounding properties and shooting away, all the while gesturing and posturing, I can see how they may have felt threatened.

I doubt this is why they fled the house, jumped into their van and sped off down Lancaster Avenue...but if we unwittingly caused these innocent homeowners any discomfort, me and my brother, Guido, wish to convey our deepest, person regards and regrets for any inconvenience to their personal space.

However, your home appears to need a lot of work and my brother and his associates would be happy to furnish their professional "services" should you wish to retain them. He's known around town as John "The Zapper," and is a licensed electrician...

But I digress...

We can't help ourselves. We can't play life straight. We are always imagining the possibilities in a situation and then play-acting it into reality, a much better reality than showing up like John Q. Normal and finding your old home has fallen even further into ruin than it was when the elderly spinster willed the dump to the church and they in turn used it as the pastor's manse.

In our day there were formal gardens and a gardener. There were neat tidy boxwoods, white trim, a polished black front door and a gleaming black wrought iron gate to welcome callers.

There was an orchard, a ball field where the senior apartments now stand. There were lilacs and hundreds of varieties of bulbs blooming each spring. But they are all gone now. Looking at the small few acres of land, I can tell that what I once saw as a vast, unlimited utopia was in reality much smaller than what my child's eye remembers.

Later, when we sit in the tiny country church, waiting for the funeral service to begin, this juxtaposition of time standing still versus reality again hits home.

The family files in...A girl so breathtakingly like my friend's sister at age 17 walks down the center aisle, grabs the hand of a little boy and leads him to the family pew. They are followed by children so familiar I am tempted to call out to them...but they are strangers...Strangers followed by older strangers...the family of my best childhood friend, Betsy. They are my childhood past and they are, we are, old.

I have the almost undeniable urge to run across the aisle, to touch the younger version of Betsy's sister, Susan, on the shoulder in hopes that when she turns around the recognition will be there. I don't want to sit with the old people.

I don't want to realize time is rushing ahead. Our parents' generation is dead or dying and we, the wild and young Woodstockers, have now become "Them," the old and out of touch.

Is it any wonder then that my brother and I become rebellious fools, denying our future with crazy caricatures and zany scenarios?

It is all- the loud music, the wild costumes, the phony accents-the dance of our denial.

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