My brother and I are not terribly close. In fact, if you said to him, “Michelle wrote a blog post about you,” he would most likely respond with, “Michelle who?”
I am a little sister by two years. And I must say, I excelled at the portion of little sisterhood that involves tormenting an older sibling. One of my proudest moments in Little Sistering took a lot of work to set up, but the payoff was priceless.
My brother played at the house of a friend most afternoons. They set up all their “men” on the front porch furniture. Star Wars or G.I. Joe or He-Man or whatever stupid thing it was. The set up would take forever, then the boys would play. For days, I’d go up the street and tell Jim that dinner was ready and Mom said to come home. He would pack up his stuff and walk home, only to find out dinner was still about 20 minutes away. Not enough time to go back up to play, but plenty of time to be bored waiting to eat. Just as he was getting wise to me, I changed the game. The next evening I waited until just when my mother told me to go get him. I walked up the street, barely able to contain my glee.
“Jimmy, Mom said you have to come home for dinner.”
He was not amused and he wasn’t falling for it again. “Yeah right. I don’t believe you.”
“OK, well, Mom’s gonna be mad.”
And so I did. I went home and told my mother that I was called a liar. She told me to go tell him he better get home immediately. I went to fetch him and again he didn’t believe me. I walked home with an enormous grin on my face.
“Mom, he won’t listen to me.” I’m sure I whined too, for dramatic effect. Mom was furious. She opened the back door and started yelling for him. She called his name a bunch of times. He didn’t come, so she went to the driveway. He was about 5 houses away, on the opposite side of the street. He heard her, came to the sidewalk and she told him to get home. Now. He knew he was in trouble so he packed up quickly and ran home.
When he arrived, he explained that every night he was told dinner was ready and it wasn’t, so that’s why he didn’t believe it tonight. My mother asked me why I would do such a thing.
“I don’t know. It was fun.”
I probably got punished and had to sit on the couch (time out before it was called time out). I probably didn’t stay there. I never stayed there. I always got up and left when my mother turned her back.
A few years later, when I was in the 7th grade or so, my body collided with a car. This is not to say a car hit me. On the contrary, I hit it.
I had two friends who equally delighted in tormenting my brother. My brother couldn’t stand them because it was like he had 3 horrible little sisters when they were over. It made for good times.
One summer afternoon, while my mother was at work and we were not permitted to have guests, Jim invited the two boys from up the street over and I invited my two friends. 6 kids, one small house…
There are a few things you should know. First, Jim had a favorite place on the couch. No one was allowed to sit there. If you dared to sit in his spot, even if he wasn’t sitting there, he would flip out. And I mean that quite literally. An early teenage tantrum of epic proportions.
Jim also hates pickles. He reacts to the sight and smell of pickles in much the same way that someone would react to a pile of roaches crawling in vomit. It’s a bit over the top.
So that one afternoon, bored and looking to start trouble, one of my friends thought it would be a good idea to squash a pickle and put it on Jim’s seat for him to find. I agreed it was a good idea, so I let her do it.
When Jim saw the pickle, he completely lost his shit. He started screaming and yelling and ranting and raving at me like a lunatic. It was hilarious. Definitely one of his top ten freak outs, possibly even top 5. You know how some people get really red in the face when they’re angry? He turned purple. The vein in his forehead nearly exploded. We could not stop laughing.
The other two boys tried to calm him down, tried to be the voices of reason. “It’s no big deal. Leave them alone. They are just messing around.” Jim wasn’t having it. He gave me a look that indicated I might have gone too far, and by that I mean that he looked like he was about to commit a felony. I turned and ran out the back door. Jim gave chase.
But not on foot. Oh no, that would not do. Jim ran into the garage and grabbed his Huffy. He also grabbed a rusty old harpoon gun that apparently was also housed in the garage. This was becoming life and death sibling rivalry.
I ran out the back gate, through the driveway and cut a sharp left. Despite the name, Main Street wasn’t really much of a main street. Just the same, one had to be careful not to just run out into it, lest one be hit by a car.
As I ran, full throttle into the middle of the road, I was looking behind me over my shoulder. I didn’t have much of a lead. I ran faster. But just as I sped up, I suddenly felt the slam of something straight into my chest and all of the wind was instantly knocked out of me. Stunned, I turned my head to find that I had run directly into the driver’s side-front end of a car.
It would appear that the driver saw me jet out into the street, not looking at the traffic of course, and slammed on his brakes. He seemed equally stunned that I didn’t stop and ran right into him. I quickly regained my whereabouts, pointed behind me and yelled, “He has a harpoon!” and kept on running down the street.
I heard the other kids and the car’s driver yelling at my brother not to shoot me. He stopped chasing me. My friends eventually caught up to me and told me it was safe to come home. Upon my return, I naturally called my mother to tell on him.
“Mom, Jim tried to shoot me with a harpoon he found in the garage.”
“I’m sick of this shit with you two. I’m at work. You need to start getting along or just kill each other already. And I told you not to have friends over. Tell them to go home. Let me talk to your brother.”
Jim told her I started it, I assume she said she didn’t care and not to shoot me. I heard him say OK and he hung up. I went up to my room with my friends. He went up the street to the boys’ house.
Years later, when we were emptying out the garage to sell my mother’s house in preparation for her move to the nursing home, we found the harpoon. Jim and I told the story to our respective spouses who seemed a tad put off by this nugget from our youth. The more I think about it, the more I think their reaction was probably appropriate. Nevertheless, Jim and I continued laughing, because let’s face it, how often do children hit cars while running from someone chasing them with a rusty harpoon on a summer day in a small suburban town in New Jersey?
It was then that we decided it was perfectly acceptable to place a now older, rustier harpoon gun out to the curb for bulk garbage collection. But not before my brother pretended he was going to chase me with it again.
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