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.”

“Go away.”

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.

I’m linking up again with Yeah Write.  It’s a super supportive community of writers.  Make sure to check it out!

5/4/12  Edited to add:  This post was chosen as a Lurker’s Favorite!


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72 Responses to “Harpoon.”

  1. Kerstin says:

    LOL – that is hilarious, I don’t care if it’s appropriate or not. Glad your brother and you could laugh about it together after all those years.
    My sister and I are not close at all, haven’t spoken in years, so I know how that feels.

  2. Emily says:

    What a wild ride! At least a slow-moving car is slightly better than a rusty harpoon though, right? :-)

  3. Vanessa says:

    With 2 boys constantly squabbling I find this hilarious. Of course as someone who had a specific seat, along with a specific cereal bowl, cereal spoon and glass I can totally understand the whole seat on the couch part.

  4. TriGirl says:

    That is true sibling rivalry! Wow! Glad neither of you got hurt :)

  5. OH, I remember these days! My younger brother was such a pest and we found like cats and dogs until I left for college. Luckily, we are very close now. The kids get such a kick out of all our stories. They can’t believe we behaved in such a manner! Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :)

  6. When you described your brother’s spot on the couch, I couldn’t help but think of Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” and his spot on the couch.

    I’m glad you made it safely through the ordeal and lived to tell about it.

  7. Karine says:

    Ditto on the Sheldon comment from Youngman Brown.

    Now this is sibling rivalry in it’s truest form! :)

  8. Gia says:

    Hahahah that is a GREAT story. My sis and I never did anything that exciting when we were kids..

  9. You and my little brother could certainly do some reminiscing together!! Funny post!

  10. Anna says:

    This brings back memories of me torturing my little brother!

  11. Ben says:

    Man, a harpoon is maybe the scariest weapon ever! It is like being chased by somebody with a knife and makes it 75% more psycho!

  12. Kim S. says:

    Sounded like some pretty serious stuff! At least you are able to laugh about it now…

  13. Robbie K says:

    I’m a middle child and don’t remember planned and purposeful tormenting of my siblings…maybe t didn’t happen or maybe I am hiding it deep in my memories?

  14. Yep, definitely brings back memories of the shenanigans my little brother and I used to get into with each other. We drove each other (and our parents) completely nuts. Although, like you and your brother, we’re still not close as adults. In fact, he’s got some pretty serious emotional issues now. It makes me sad to think about those days now because I realize just how innocent life was then… and how I had no idea what was to come.

    • I wish I could say it was pickles and harpoons that drove us apart, but not so much. What can you do… things happen. Sorry you don’t have a good relationship with your brother. It’s hard knowing there are people out there that you should connect with and you don’t.

  15. Pish Posh says:

    I love that you think the funniest part is that you hit the car. The funniest part is that there is a harpoon gun anywhere in this story :)

    Great pacing and wonderfully told. I have a brother and in this case I would probably be Jim, since I am older. I have the scars to prove it.

    Is Jim still like this with pickles?

    Your poor mother!!

    • Well, yeah. The harpoon. Such an odd thing to have, right?
      He still hates pickles. I think he is slightly better able to control his rage toward them though.
      Trust me – we were the slightest of my mother’s problems!

  16. That is too funny! Sounds like a moment from The Hunger Games! LOL. Siblings are the best for stories, aren’t they?

  17. I am the eldest of 6 girls. So I’m the one who did all the tormenting when we were kids. But we’re all friends now. Oddly, one of them has the same reaction to pickles that your brother does. And I agree with Pish that the funniest, or weirdest part of the story is that a harpoon gun appears out of nowhere. It’s too bad though that you and your brother don’t speak.

    • I can only imagine the shenanigans with 6 girls!! 1 sibling was enough for me! It is too bad, but you know, what can you do… I didn’t even know we HAD the harpoon until that moment!

  18. Great story, Michelle, especially the dinnertime portion. Those are the kinds of stories that today’s kids will never experience. Their parents will just text them to come home and they will.

    Must admit I’m a little curious why you had a rusty harpoon in your garage, though.

    • Yelling out the back door up the street – such a thing of the past! I hadn’t really thought of that.

      I am also a little curious about the harpoon. It was never understood how or why it was there. My mother could never explain it. She claimed to not know we had it either, and yet she wasn’t surprised when I mentioned it. We were an odd family.

  19. Hilarious! I don’t have a brother, but my cousin and I had a similar relationship…all fighting all the time. I got so mad at Chris one time that I hit him directly in the head with a rock. His head bled and everything. It was pretty bad.

  20. Michelle, great stories! I hope you send your brother a link to this post so he can have a good laugh and admire the awesome writer his little sis has grown up to be.

  21. Wily Guy says:

    I was a little brother by two and a half years and this story took me back… To my sister making me streak… To me hitting myself to leave a mark and blaming my sister… To my dad handing us steak knives when he was so fed up with us… To playing silly games at dinner or on car trips… We’re good pals nowadays who can’t hang out quite as often as we should…

    Great piece!

    • Haha – your dad gave you knives?? I want to know what you did with them! We had some genuinely good times in my house, but they are less funny! Thanks for reading!

  22. MamaMash says:

    Haha, sounds like the stuff my sister and I got into. Sans harpoon. Cause that would have been an asswhoopin.

    • Yes, I suspect most parents would whoop ass if their children played with harpoons. Not my mom though… She was what you’d call permissive. Thanks for reading!

  23. Kristin says:

    A harpoon gun? Not a Harpoon IPA bottle? Wow. Just…wow. I thought my sisters and I were bad, but you guys take the cake, and the creme filling.

  24. This shiz was awesome…I mean, besides hitting the car and all.

  25. Delilah Love says:

    Oh my Lawd, that was funny! I was picturing it in my head as I was reading and could not stop the giggling! I can see my boys torturing each other like that!

  26. Stories like this are etched deep in our hearts… beautiful and heartwarming, although I must agree it was a little too dangerous running on streets.

  27. Jade says:

    Oh man, this is the post of the round for me so far. Actual LOL – though I hesitate to use that particular acronym now that I’m over 30 and have two kids – at your mother being totally pissed off at work and telling you to just kill each other already. Can imagine it, just full deadpan. Cannot believe your brother wanted to shoot you. Amazing hilarity to look back on, and superbly relayed :)

  28. KimP says:

    You always entertain me.

    ~The G is Silent

  29. Great story. I would never have believed that anyone had a harpoon, but that is just awesome. Agree with Kim P. Totally, Erin

  30. Amazing what you can find in a garage, isn’t it? Could we next get the story of WHY there is a harpoon gun in the garage of a house in a small suburban town in NJ? I mean…were there whales around somewhere? Ah siblings…somehow this story makes my own kids’ bickering seem suddenly much easier to manage!

    • I truly have no idea why it was there. It has never been established where it came from, how long it was there before this day, how long Jim knew it was there before that day. I don’t know why we kept it after that day. So many questions that will just never have answers. My guess is it was my father’s – though that’s an equally unsettling thought because the only person who should have a harpoon less than my brother is my father!

  31. Oh my goodness this was a good story! I’m sad I don’t have a story like this being I’m an only child and all. Ellen

    • I’m sure you still have plenty of good stories from your youth! While it did make for a good story, I probably could have done without nearly being murdered by my brother :)

  32. Suspenseful read. I found it particularly touching that you and your brother were able to laugh about it as you were preparing for your mother to reside in a nursing home. The contrast of the action of you being chased to the less dramatic physical movement of cleaning out the garage, but just as emotionally impactful for me.

  33. Amanda says:

    That’s a really funny story. I liked it a lot. I’m not surprised your respective spouses didn’t find it funny though. If you think about it, it would actually be kind of offensive if your husband laughed at a story about you almost getting harpooned.

    My mom and I talk about about people who get the joke and those who don’t. Nobody laughs harder at these kinds of things than my mother. If you look them up, most major comedians had something terrible happen to them, because that’s where humor comes from. The problem is, it’s all a parlor trick, a slight of hand, and you have to be careful not to look at it too closely. Your story is hilarious, but if you start breaking it apart you are left with very unfunny pieces.

    If I drink enough, I tell stories that make everyone laugh, and they are always true and absurd. One day early in our relationship though, my husband told me that he hated my stories. I’m like, don’t you get it, that really happened, on my birthday and we were at disneyland and then I laughed some more. He looked at me like I was a crazy person, which I probably am; but the story was funny because it was true. We actually still struggle with this a lot in our relationship, my ability to laugh in the worst time seems like making light to him, and his inability to laugh always make it harder.

    My parents did not teach me a lot about how to appropriately handle anything, but the one thing they did teach me was how to laugh at life and have fun with it and I will always be grateful. You and your brother are very lucky to have that too even if you can’t do it together very often. I know the best laughs I have had in my life were about things that never should have been funny.

  34. Bee says:

    Omg! That was awesome! I could totally hear your mom on the phone, too, because I had many conversations like that with my own mom as a kid. Hahaha!

    • As a working mother, I cringe when I think of all the times we called my mother at work and drove her crazy. And she was so tired of us fighting. Can’t say I blame her!! Thanks for reading!

  35. I have questions. But first…I roared with laughter all the way through this. I can picture it all though I am surprised I never knew about this before. I mean, had I looked out my front window, I would have had a front row seat.

    I could totally hear your Mom telling you two to just get along or kill each other already. She may have gotten that one from my Mom with my two eldest siblings.

    So. A harpoon. What the HELL? Jim must have known it was in there. And he was saving it for just the right time. My money is also on the harpoon being your Dad’s. It just fits.

    Didn’t you get hurt when you ran into the car? I just don’t remember our little neighborhood being this exciting.

    • I’m sure it was my dad’s but I have no clue why it was in there. And yes, I’m sure Jim knew about it long before he pulled it out.

      Yes, running into the car hurt considerably. But not as much as a harpoon shot was going to, so I kept running down Van Winkle. It happened right in front of your house too, so it’s funny that you didn’t see anything!

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