My Brother, the Jerk
As I said before, my brother is five years older than me. His chosen method of being a jerk was more psychological than physical. Although, there were times when he would tickle me to the point of pain/laughing out of breath and would only stop if i was able to say “I’m gonna tell the teacher on you”, because he was so relentless in his action I could never get all of those words out. The only way he would stop is if either of my parents yelled at him.
Mostly his modus operandi was how best he could scare me. And many things managed to scare me (some to this day, I fear spiders no matter how big or small), he usually focused on ad’s that played on T.V. like Brigantine Castle or the super creepy trailer for the Horror film Suspiria. Both seen below.
He also made up things like Just by saying “Gorilla Frankenstein & Monkey Man” my young imaginative mind conjured up what I thought they were. He sometimes went to playing elaborate gags. He bought some ghost on a wire he rigged to fly down the steps at me while I was playing at the foot of the steps with my hot wheels or he found a Styrofoam head that held out Mom’s wig and then set it to look out the back porch window and told me we had a ghost in the house. He also would wave his fingers in front of my face and say “Magic Fire Dust in your eyes” and then I would cry or scream or yell for my Mom and he would then get in trouble.
One time when we were at Sunday School and Mom & Dad’s class was both in a different location & running late, my brother told me that our parents abandoned us. I remember totally freaking out and running around the church trying to find my parents and ended up in the gym wailing that they left us. Someone recognized me and found my parents and brought them to me, when asked I of course said “Donnie said you left and were never coming back” of course my brother got in trouble.
That was life growing up in the 70’s with my brother for about 90% of the time. The other 10% he was a decent brother and I too found ways to get back at him. Even as a wee little kid, I was always eating with my fingers. Well one birthday I ruined my cake, my Mom laughed it off because after all it was my birthday cake.
I also remember at times getting my revenge every single time Mom made spaghetti (with meat sauce, which I will add I always thought was gross, I usually pushed the meat to the side separated from the sauce) I would slurp them in and say “Yum Worms !!” Ha ! Got him all the time.
Despite it all I envied my brother. He was book smart, he also had the knack to be creative at times. With our next door neighbor Cathy, they wrote an original play called “The Runaways”. I was meant to star with Wendy in this play. They wrote, we rehearsed but never performed it anywhere. It was pretty cool, even after seeing Grease in the movies my brother had hoped to do a Grease play with me playing Danny. He would direct me recreating scenes from the film and I would sing along to the soundtrack we had on record.
We played a lot of board games together like Mouse Trap, Haunted Mansion and Sorry to name a few. We also liked to build forts with the couch cushions sometimes seeing who could make the tallest tower. And at times we rode the cushions down the 3rd floor, 2nd floor and basements steps. Who needed an amusement park when you could make your own.
When I turned 7, my brother planned a surprise party for me. But instead of just inviting my friends he invited every kid from the neighborhood. Again, that would be kids ranging in age from 6-15. Those teenagers had an unfair advantage over every game that was devised. I was a socially awkward kid, I had friends but I didn’t pal around with a large group, it was always one or two at time. Looking back it was a grand gesture on his part to do this for me but I hated every second of it.
Illness and other fun things
As a kid I spent a lot of time, essentially being home schooled before it became a thing. My Mom became my substitute teacher. I had a knack to always come down with Bronchitis. Being sick a lot also meant not going to church (which I am pretty sure made my Dad happier. He wasn’t a church goer. He believed in God just not organized religion, a trait I would take on myself) My brother got sick a lot as well. I also had allergies. I took allergy shots in the arm for about 18 years. I grew to accept that prick of pain (perhaps my masochist side blossomed in the 1970’s) but always had a problem swallowing pills, Mom always had to hide them in applesauce for me.
For my entire childhood in the 1970’s both my hands and fingers had warts. I was always fascinated by my warts. I never took them as unsightly, I considered it a blessing to be different from other’s.I always thought they were cool. I remember being jealous of my best friend Mike K. who wore glasses. I always wished I could wear glasses. (Looking back on those two memories, made me an exceptionally strange kid that took pleasure over grief in what most would probably have major issues with). Perhaps, my parents fed into the fascination I had with my warts, I don’t know I never got to ask them that. My brother never seemed to use them as ammunition against me either.
When I was in the 2nd Grade, I came down with Pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. My biggest memory was seeing butterfly pins adorn my IV and just enjoying my time away from home.
After seeing Grease in 1978, I decided to recreate the Hand Jive dance scene on our wooden living room floor, I slid across the floor on my knees and somehow got a 8 inch splinter embedded in my knee. I remember being in pain but again being in awe when Dr. Moyer tweezered out this loooooong splinter.
to be continued next week…