I was about 10 years old. I was tall for my age, gangly and burnt a deep tan by a summer vacation that was dwindling rapidly. I was standing in the upstairs hallway of our house in Kentucky, looking down at my five-year-old little brother. I had just shoved him into a clothes hamper. His body formed a “V” so that his face was looking up at me from between his feet. He wiggled his toes.
“Ready?” I asked. A little hand snaked out of the hamper and gave me a thumb up.
“Okay,” I said. “Hold on.”
I then tossed my little brother, Blaine “Boomer” Ayers, the 13th Eminent Supreme Recorder and Executive Director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and his hamper escape-pod down the front stairs.
When I was asked to write this piece on Boomer, I agreed immediately. I’ve known my little brother his whole life and could easily fill the allocated space with information about him. What I didn’t stop to consider was that I know almost nothing about ΣAE or, for that matter, fraternities in general. I went to a small school that didn’t have a Greek system. I wanted to talk about why my brother is the perfect man to lead this organization, but having never had any practical experience with it, I was at a bit of a loss.
What I did know was that Boomer always refers to the other men in his fraternity as his brothers. (And I’ve learned never to call it a “frat,” being admonished on more than one occasion.) Yet I decided I was worrying too much about my lack of fraternity knowledge. I don’t know about fraternities. But I do know about brotherhood. Boomer is my brother. He is also a brother to everyone in Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Although your bond is strong, you don’t know him as well as I do. I decided just to let you know the important things I know about my brother, Boomer, that you all should know about your brother, Blaine Ayers, ESR.
It seemed like the hamper was moving in slow motion as it bounced and spun and fell. About halfway down, it occurred to me that maybe this was a horrible idea. He was yelling by then and had started yelling the second that he had begun his descent. I suddenly realized that if he got killed, we both would be in a lot of trouble.
Boomer is fiercely loyal, almost to the point of insanity.
He and I have gotten in serious yelling-and-swinging fights only a couple of times. Pretty impressive when you consider our 30-plus-year relationship and the fact that we shared a bedroom during one stretch. One of the bigger arguments we ever got into — one that ended with him yelling at me across a kitchen table — took place when I was in college and he was a freshman in high school. We were arguing over who was the better athlete. Not between the two of us, between Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.