Thursday, August 9, 2007

President Hay Hay

My little brother was a pain in the you-know-what. One time we were playing in the rocks that the street-makers had laid down in preparation for paving. I don't know how the little creep did it, but somehow, he got his head right under a rock that I threw, and started bleeding and screaming. I had to start screaming, too, in order to protect myself from the wrath to come. They probably locked me in a closet while they took him to the ER. I'm sure he did it just to get me in trouble.

Another time he really bugged me, so I pushed him and he fell backwards right into a metal garbage can and cut his leg open. Again with the screaming and bleeding; and again I had to launch the counter-measure, screaming and crying and claiming "He started it!"

My brother hated it when my Dad referred to me as "the athlete of the family," since I was a girl and all. What I realize now and didn't then is that Mark is and was a much better athlete than I was, but he had greater competition, and didn't shine as bright on the field or court as I did against other girls.

My brother, his friends and I would play run-the-bases on the side yard until we wore a base-path into the grass that my Dad nurtured with chemicals and the sweat of his brow. Sometimes we'd play half-ball in the street with the neighbors, with half of a pink rubber ball and a broom handle bat.

I never remember a playtime with my little brother that did not involve competition. We'd compete for the most Halloween candy (kids take note: pillow-cases make the best bags for collecting candy), over board games like Risk and Battleship and ping-pong, at who could keep their candle lit the longest at the Christmas Eve service at church.

We had a long hallway at the top of the stairs, and when we were supposed to be in bed, we'd play this insane game of chicken. We'd charge toward each other, our pillows clasped in front of us, and we'd crash and send each other flying. One time he ended up with his butt at the bottom of the hamper and his feet waggling out the top.

In the winter, we'd sled across the backyards, and make fake outlines of sled-tracks leading up to and beyond the baby pine trees that Mr. Pendowski had planted two months earlier. We knew it would drive him nuts to think we had sledded right over them; and sure enough, my Dad would get an angry call the next day.

The best trick my little brother pulled was hiding the wooden paddle that my Dad used on our disobedient butts. Mark had created the "Hay Hay Club" with walls of piled-up pine needles under the wooded yard that abutted our back lot. One day he'd had enough of getting his butt shined with that stupid paddle, and he stole it and buried it under the pine-needle carpet of the secret clubhouse. It's probably still there today.

Today my brother is honorable and honest, hard-working, kind, peace-making, and tender-hearted. He's a great husband, brother, son, and friend. And sometimes, he's still a pain in the you-know-what. Even if he weren't my brother, I'd want to be his friend.

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