Submitted by Russell Arben Fox
Rusty Clifton is mostly an unknown quantity to me. He lives in New York, as I understand it. Moreover, as I’ve learned from various Law and Order episodes, everyone in New York City is or has been at one time subject to the jurisdiction of the New York City Criminal Court, so I assume he’s some sort of convicted felon, or at least doing community service. He started Nine Moons five years ago, basically to demonstrate his awesome designing skills, and to provide a home for Mormon bloggers who chose to resist the twin black holes of the Bloggernacle, Times and Seasons and By Common Consent. (Feminist Mormon Housewives? Oh yeah, that’s that OTHER big Bloggernacle blog.) Let’s see, anything more? He’s from Spokane, and his family and mine were in the same ward for quite a few years, and I was his father’s Aaronic priesthood home teaching companion for a good long while, from which I learned several ways to kick some serious butt in games of Time Pilot or Joust. (I tried to interest Father Don in Q-bert, but to no avail. Where have you gone, Brother Don?) Is that everything? Oh wait, I remember! Rusty was best friends with my little brother Jesse Kirkham Fox while they were growing up. That’s something can talk about.
Jesse (also known as “Jess,” “Rusty’s Hick Friend from Out West,” or “Keyser Söze”) is the fifth of the seven Fox brothers. As the attached photo plainly demonstrates, he is also the best looking of us all. (Ignore the weird twitch in his left eye; he’s had it ever since he had to kill a guy in Chile, but it’s almost never visible.) As a holder of an genuine MBA, he also is the only one of us who straddles the line between Elitist Liberal Apologist for Pretentious Advanced Education (that would be me) and Getting Another Useless Degree Never Made it Easier to Sell a Refurbished Crackhouse (that would be everyone else). I can only assume that his balanced devotion to intellectual credentials and practical reality of street smarts is reflected of the kind of people he chooses as friends, Rusty included. Married to the delightful Amy, the father of four beautiful pixie-like daughters and one likely heavyweight boxer son, a man who moves smoothly from real estate to business and back again, a man filled with entrepreneurial energy (he recently called us up out of the blue to talk about his admittedly brilliant plan to write a book that includes pictures of the flags and recordings of the national anthems of all the countries in the world and sell it at Sam’s Clubs nationwide), he truly has it all. This is why we hate him.
Well, not really. And not everyone. Just me, and only a little bit. It’s because of his mission, I suspect. As I mentioned before, he served in Chile, where he baptized roughly 12,000 people, though a few had to be thrown out once it was revealed they were either dead, four-years-old, or—in one embarrassing-but-in-retrospect-hilarious case—a displaced capybara. (This in comparison to my mission, which resulted in whole wards joining the Full Gospel Church of Awesomeness in order to put distance between themselves and my constant anguished scowl. I don’t know about Rusty’s mission. I hear dark tales about duck smuggling, but I don’t judge.) Most crucially, Jesse’s mission gave him a strong sensible grounding in the gospel and a devotion to goal-setting and hard work. It has served him well since then; no one says no to the Jess. I first met Amy at a family meeting in Utah, years ago; it just wasn’t done to bring girlfriends to a family gathering, but Jesse brought her along. He’d just look at us as we arrived at the hotel conference room, wondering who the woman sitting on his lap was, and he’d look at us dead-straight and say, “Oh yeah, this is Amy. We’re going to get married. Bite me, suckahs.” (I can’t vouch for that last bit; I was in the midst of writing my dissertation at that time, and so heard most things through a Coca-Cola haze.)
Rusty and Jesse were teen-agers in the early 1990s, when Grunge music was teaching us how to get in touch with ourselves, the malevolent forces of HillaryCare stalked the land, and Woody Allen still made tolerable movies. They were young and carefree in those days of the New World Order, playing in the woods around our house, anxiously awaiting Saturday’s matinee showing of Beethoven’s 2nd, pretending to be U.N. troops sent to liberate the starving and suitably grateful female masses of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yoolandizhan, Upper Shymeire, South Antarctica, and all the other newly independent states which we remember fondly from those days following when the Soviet Union calling it quits. We older Fox brothers were, by then, becoming bitter and cynical with age, getting weighed down by the years, complaining about how these young kids don’t know how to properly milk a cow and allowing ourselves to be goaded by them into basketball games, during which they would mock our clumsiness and decrepitude. (Rusty, I believe, was directly responsible for my brother Daniel breaking his foot, contracting Lyme disease, and falling down and crushing the last living spotted owl during a pick-up basketball game, but has he ever apologized for this federal crime? Of course not. That’s how Noo Yawk Blawgguhs role, I guess.)
It was about this time when Al Gore invented the internet, of course. What bliss it must have been, to know the dawn of this new technology, and while living in the hip and tech-savvy urban center of Spokane, WA, no less! Oddly, though, Jesse eschewed a familiarity with such high-end matters, preferring to devote his life to the gospel, his family, his Dungeons and Dragons characters, his golf game, his perfectly coiffed hair. I suppose he might have picked it up after his mission, but he chose not to. I suspect that he wanted to make certain that his old pal Rusty would be able to find some place for himself in the wild world of the internet all on his own, rather than standing forever in Jesse’s shadow. It’s a hard thing, for a friend to let another go like that, to let them take wings and fly on their own, but sometimes that’s what you have to do. Jesse’s strong that way. He’s also strong with the machete, but that’s a different story, one that Rusty can tell if he chooses. (Seriously, the scar is barely visible, man.)
Happy Birthday, Nine Moons. I come to relay Brother Number Five’s congratulations and support, or I would, I’m sure, if I wasn’t blocked from his Facebook account.