In economics, the theory of second best roughly refers to the idea that if the optimal choice is not available, it’s possible to change some variables and make things work with the second best option. Well, that’s me: Kyle McKallister, little brother to probably the most famous rockstar in the world. I’ve lived my life in the shadows of excellence and made a career out of being a step behind. You know, like the athlete who crosses the finish line milliseconds after the victor. Or the runner-up in a beauty pageant who stands there smiling as the winner accepts her crown.
In the words of the great Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. In fact, I’ve always been okay with a second place finish. Not everyone is destined for greatness.
Kyle: My Brother’s Keeper
“You want me to have Travis send her back?” I asked my brother Jake, as we headed to the dressing room after his show. Two hours of performing under the glaring lights had taken its toll on him. His shoulders were slumped, and his normally determined gait was heavy with exertion. Sweat clung to strands of his hair before giving way to the weight and dripping in a steady stream to the floor below. I purposefully kept my distance, knowing that Jake occasionally took pleasure in shaking his head and showering me in a fountain of his perspiration. Although I doubted I needed to worry tonight. By the looks of him, his state of mind was anything but playful.
“I don’t know. She’s hot, I guess,” Jake replied, shrugging noncommittally, as he sponged his flushed face with a towel.
“You guess? Dude, you have warped standards.”
“She just… she looks really clingy, and I seriously don’t have the energy tonight.”
“The energy for what? Sex?”
“For anything. I just want to sleep.”
Jake had been doing a lot of that lately. Nothing seemed to really interest him anymore… not even an unbelievably hot chick. Covering up my growing concern, I opted to reply to my distracted brother with an insulting joke.
“I’m sorry. How small did you say your chode was again?”
Jake cracked a slight smile. Finally! Shit! It was taking more and more to coax one of those out of him. I had to resort to dick jokes… not that I had a problem with that.
“Anyway, I’ll pass,” he replied.
“Oh, good. More for me.”
“Have at it.”
“I will, don’t you worry.”
“Awesome,” Jake responded sarcastically. “I’m happy for you.”
“Yep. And this time, I won’t have to settle for sloppy seconds,” I smirked.
“Eww… god!” Jake complained, his face scrunched up in disgust. “That’s just wrong on so many levels.”
“Dude, what can I say? After you, they’re begging me for it,” I said as a smug dig.
Jake’s response was a swift punch to my arm. The blow wasn’t that hard, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. I wanted to rub the area to soothe the ache, but I couldn’t let my brother know what a goddamn wimp I really was. Jake and I were about the same height, 6’1, both on the slim side of the body spectrum, but Jake made an effort to work out and look good. After all, it was his job to be hot up on the stage, and over the years he’d filled out nicely.
I, on the other hand, was like one of those gangly guys who’d gone through an unexpected growth spurt in a very short period of time and whose body hadn’t quite caught up yet. I suppose I could put more effort into my physique, but working out really wasn’t my thing. Sure, I’d lift a weight or two if the mood struck, but getting ripped was not in my vocabulary. It wasn’t like I was trying to impress anyone.
There was nothing extraordinary about me, nor did I particularly care to be noteworthy. I was happy living my carefree, Bohemian lifestyle. Although referring to myself as Bohemian might have been a stretch; that implied I was actively trying to be hip or edgy, when in reality, I was just lazy.
Most days I simply rolled out of bed and was ready to go. Low maintenance – that was me. And since I wasn’t genetically predisposed to growing a thick, full beard, the sporadic patches of whiskers on my face were generally left to fester for weeks before I got around to shaving. It was pretty much the same deal with my hair. The best way I could describe it was that it just hung there past my ears in an unruly mess.
“Don’t you have to pack, or something?” Jake asked, pulling his sweaty shirt off and throwing it to the ground.
“Yeah, I’ll get around to it at some point.”
“You realize you’re leaving tomorrow morning, right?”
“I know, hence the reason I’ll get around to it at some point,” I replied with a shrug.
“Whatever,” Jake responded, looking pissed.
Oh, great! It was going to be one of those days. Recently there had been a lot of ‘those’ days. I studied him as he ran a towel through his sodden hair. He seemed burdened and preoccupied. Over the last couple of weeks, I’d noticed a change in his overall demeanor. Aside from the sleeping thing, my brother had been exceedingly moody. It’s not like I wasn’t used to Jake’s particular brand of irritability, but his current behavior was unsettling, to say the least. With me set to fly back to the States the next morning, Jake would be alone with his thoughts; and that, in turn, filled me with excessive amounts of anxiety. Nothing good had ever come from Jake thinking too much.
Damn. Why did I have to leave now? Competing on Marooned, the popular survivalist reality show, was something I had been looking forward to since I’d been cast a few months back. After all, I almost never did anything on my own, and I figured a national television program was as good a place to start as any. That being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it up if Jake really needed me. And I was starting to get the impression that he would struggle in my absence.
“Maybe I should postpone the trip,” I blurted out.
He looked at me in surprise. “Why?”
“I don’t know. I’m thinking this whole reality TV thing was a mistake.”
“Since when? It’s all you’ve talked about for three months now.”
“I know, but I’ll probably just embarrass myself. Maybe I’ll stay on tour with you. Who wants to be a C-list celebrity anyway?”