Now, I'll give it to my brother. He does work hard ... . As for what he deserves, well ... that's another subject.
Anyway, I figured Ralph was tired of getting things like dead scorpions from me for Christmas. So I got him this Mr. Success tie. I figured it would appeal to his ego.
I didn't go home for Christmas this year, so I didn't get to see the green dollar signs dancing in his blue eyes when he opened his gift. Mom, who spent the day with Ralph and family, did.
She called to tell me.
"He loved that tie," she said. "He said he was going to wear it when his boss came to town."
Later, I actually got a message on my answering machine from Ralph, who thanked me for all his gifts. He must have really liked the stuff I got him (he specifically mentioned the tie) because he said he hoped I had a great Christmas.
I mean, that was it.
The last message I got from my not-so-little little brother consisted of a group of rather strange riddles, followed by raucous laughter.
If I remember correctly, one of them was, "If a snail loses its shell, is it naked or homeless?"
Ralph's Christmas Day message was definitely out of character.
I replayed the message, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything.
Nope, it was real. I heard right.
There were no insults. There was no raucous laughter at my expense. No sick jokes. No comments about my body parts.
Ralph didn't even comment on the "Moron brother" birthday card a reader sent me to give to him. (His birthday was Dec. 16). I sent the card with Ralph's Christmas gifts. It showed a rather ugly little guy whose posterior was stuck in a toilet. He was trying to suction himself out by using a plunger on his head.
Amazingly, not a word about the card.
It was a Christmas miracle.
Even my mother was astonished when I called to tell her I got a message from Ralph that didn't contain so much as one insult.
"You're kidding," she said. "Really? Well, isn't that wonderful!"
"Yeah," I said. "But I'm not going to get too excited about it. My birthday's coming up, you know."
"Yes, honey, I remember it clearly," she said.
I didn't particularly like her tone of voice.
"Remember the card Ralph sent me last year?" I asked.
"Yes, honey. It said something about your being older than dirt, didn't it?"
Then she started laughing, and laughing. And laughing.
Now I have to find a tie for mom.
Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.