Summer, sitting in the screened in patio, long, stringy hair still wet from the pool and skinny little me wrapped in a giant beach towel shivering with eyes blood-shot from the chlorine. I just had to open my eyes underwater; what kid doesn’t? However, my reason was mostly to watch out for my goofy older brother who would inevitably hide in the grapefruit tree waiting for the chance to beeline it to the pool, jump on top of me and hold me under water until I kicked him somewhere important. He was a turd! He reveled at the chance to get me to scream “Kevin! Stop it!”, which I awarded him with regularly. It is well-known that the job of an older brother is to torment his little sister. And, boy was he was excellent at it! All summer long out of school, the two of us were constantly in the pool, playing and fighting, mostly fighting. The morning generally started calm. We’d start with the “drain race”, a race to the bottom of the deep end to the drain. Each race, we’d add a new challenge to the game. “Ok, you have to hold a baseball between your thighs and race to the drain”, Kevin would instruct. Or, “when you get to the drain, you have to count to 5, then come back up”. I was much smaller than he even though he only had me by a year! I was even smaller than all the boys and girls my own age. But, I was a better athlete than my brother, by far. So, my small stature had me piercing through the water like a bullet on D-Day towards the drain, challenge or not.
Kevin quickly became irritated that he couldn’t win this one. Not a contest of agility. He may have been able to outsmart me as a nuisance, but failed miserably in physical nimbleness. Feeling defeated at the “drain race”, he’d suggest that we get the beach ball out and hit it back and forth over the water to see how long we could keep in going without hitting the water. That challenge went on just long enough for me to realize that Kevin’s personal goal was to see how many times he could nail me in the face with the ball! Oh how he would laugh and smirk at me with that all-knowing, all-seeing look on his young face. This is about the time I’d get saved by Mom announcing from the kitchen window “KIDS! LUNCH!”.
Bologna and cheese on white bread with mustard, a Tupperware glass full of chocolate milk (that had to be protected from suicidal flies) and, of course, a cookie. Wrapped in our towels in the screened in patio, Kevin snuffed up a booger wad just to gross me out! Again, that look. I waited for him to lose interest in his need to pick at me, but that happened only when he slept or was reading the dictionary! He took a bite of his sandwich and calculated his next move, which meant the demolition or theft of my cookie, which he knew I valued more than the sandwich. Momentary silence. Kev had the maneuver down. He drank his milk down, head back with his eyes closed while his other hand torpedoed my cookie!!! “Kevin!”, I screamed…”stop it!”. Mom, having had enough of this drama all morning pushed open the arcadia door….. “what’s going on!?”. Then came the sounds that NO Mother tires of hearing (huh!)….whining children!! She had to listen to this crap ALL morning and had just had it! We were promptly sent to our rooms without finishing our lunch and our COOKIES; told to “think” about what we’d done. I could never figure that one out! All I could think about was my unfinished cookie (recipe).
After an hour, Mom let us out of our cages and sent us outside to play. Having had enough of each other, we split off. I went to Nanette’s house to play cribbage with Nan and her Mother. Kevin to Larry’s to do whatever bratty boys do (play with matches? light their farts?). An hour passed. Then, another. Although I was having fun with my friend, I began to wonder what Kevin was doing. Huh? Was he wondering what I was doing? I missed the dork! Did he miss me? Did he torment his friend Larry as much as he did me? The two of us arrived home in the late afternoon. We were greeted with Mom’s smiling face, milk and cookies. We sat at the dining room table and ate our cookies in silence. I was cautious of the moment. I didn’t know what Kevin was thinking as he calmly (like a shark!) drank his milk and ate his cookies. As the calmness perpetuated, I began to feel grateful for this time with him. The lack of fighting. I loved my brother. We were always together. I just wanted him to like me and, to stay away from my cookies! My big brother torments me to this day and we’re both pushing 60! And, I continue to award him with the classic whine “Kevin! Stop it! You’re such a turd!”. I guess this is just what love between a brother and sister looks like it my family. Love my Bro!