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           About thirty years ago, my older brother Lee and I were sitting around my Aunty You-You’s kitchen table during one of her epic summer pool parties. Aunty You-You was my mom’s sister, and although she didn’t have any kids of her own, she was a second mother to not only all of my siblings, but to most of my cousin’s as well.
           Her parties were the blueprint for the mayhemic soirees that my twin brother Mike and I would start throwing just a few years later. There was a festiveness and a palpable love that swirled throughout these events (and always, always, always, live music), and it was my goal to replicate that energy at our own events. My aunt loved to entertain. My whole extended family does. We’ve all taken that ball and ran with it, as anyone who’s ever been to one of our parties can attest to.
           On this particular night, Lee and I were getting pretty looped when our discussion turned to love. Lee laid a phrase on me that has stuck with me ever since. This phrase summed up, albeit crudely, how I feel about some of the people I truly love. He said to me, “Some people, you love so much, you would take a bullet for them.”
           I got it right away. It was something I already felt, something I already knew, even though I had never articulated it. The idea of stepping in front of a bullet for someone I loved rang so true that I felt an echo within me; like the energy of the words literally sledgehammered a piano wire within that had never been struck, but I was aware of nonetheless. I knew exactly what he was talking about.
           It was the very first time I had even heard love put that way.  
           There are a number of people in my life that I would in fact take a bullet for. I’m hoping they know who they are. Some of them are likely reading this. As soon as the opportunity is right, in a quiet moment, I will tell each of these people that, just so that nothing this important goes unsaid.
           This choice of who I would take a bullet for is not so much a conscious decision as it is an energy that I feel between someone that makes me perfectly willing to put their welfare ahead of mine in a life and death situation. These people mean that much to me. These people touch a part of my soul that is somehow reserved for them. It’s like a switch that only they can turn on inside of me, and the mechanisms behind that are not fully known to me. For there are many people in my life who I deeply love. But there is something about The Bullet Crew that sparks a protective nature in me that isn't completely conscious. It transcends the physical.
           I never had kids, but I imagine this is the way good parents feel about their children. And part of this is physical. Part of this is my Manhood DNA wanting to protect and keep safe those who mean the world to me. Even though I’m not a parent, I am connected to that energy, and therefore I am connected to that which wants my loved ones to be safe, even at my own expense.
           Maybe some of it has to do with how I see myself: A strong man who could absorb a bullet and not die from it. That may be a completely erroneous assumption, but it’s not the fact I’m plugging into but the feeling of willingness to do anything to keep these people from being harmed. The desire to take care of people I love. I will step in front of this bullet, whether it’s a physical bullet or a metaphysical one, and take it on. I will deal with the blood, the pain, the suffering, or whatever else comes from it. As long as you are safe. As long as you are spared. I will deal with this. I will do this for you. Because I can. Because you mean that much to me.
           Over the years, Lee and I have had our ups and downs, to put it mildly. We’ve at times been at what I would call war, or as close to war as I’d ever want to get. And yet, even in those times where I could not stand the thought of him, I knew, deep inside of me, that, if it came down to it, the bullet would hit my body before it hit his. It was precisely that kind of feeling that made it so agonizing to be at such odds with him. I would say the same thing about my twin. And Mike and I have been in court, at opposite tables.
           I honestly do feel this way about certain people in my life. That doesn’t make me a martyr, it doesn’t make me better than anyone else. It just makes me aware of what I’m willing to do for the people in my life who I frankly can’t imagine living without.
           Who would you take a bullet for? Tell them, someday. That’s something they need to know.

     ©2014 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing.

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