Wednesday, March 17, 2010
This is probably an Easter, 1958, picture of my two younger, male siblings. Looks like they're into the jelly beans, although John's favorite was Peeps. He's the guy holding the bag. Mark is on the table. John was the driven one. He would get up during the night, the night before Easter, after the Easter bunny had left his candy on little plastic grass nests scattered throughout the downstairs and determine which nests had peeps in them. Then, in the morning when we'd scramble downstairs with our baskets in hand, greed and avarice in our hearts, he'd somehow manage to create a monopoly on the peeps. They only came in yellow and pink back in my days. Obviously we led lives of want. Not.
My brothers were only a year apart in school. This gave them someone to play with on the weekends and after school--all the time. As the 4 or 5-year older sister, I didn't have a ready made playmate, so I recall I was a bit envious. They had a knack for getting into trouble, however, that I seemed to lack, which was all to the good. One time, dad caught them smoking cigarettes (we all tried cigarettes at various times during childhood, sometimes together as a group), so he thought he'd try some reverse psychology on the boys. He told John that he could smoke as long as John smoked in his presence. John immediately got on the phone to his friend, Johnny Black, who lived 5 houses down the way. "Johnny," John blurted out excitedly, "It's ok. Dad says we can smoke here! With him!"
Their most lasting contribution to my childhood, though was when they came up with a classification system for farts. As boys are wont to do, they spoke of the process of elimination often and with much hilarity. Dingleberries were a topic of many conversations. Many of the neighborhood dogs, including our own, were plagued with dingleberries. Probably due to their rich diets. The boys would dissolve into peals of laughter when they saw a dog scooting around on its butt, trying to clean up. It was thus only logical that farts were a source of much carrying on. So much so, that they invented code words, so they could discuss them without raising the wrath of Mom, who, was not only a language purist but a language Puritan. We could not use the word 'poop,' which was reserved for swearing, and we were forbidden to use the word "pee" whatsoever when describing No. 1.
My brothers' fart classification system, like Caesar's Gaul, was divided into three parts. First, there were Tobeys. These were the loud, embarrassing ones, that no amount of other noise could cover up. Then there were Roses, the sticky and sweet kind. Finally, and these were the most important class, the ones they worked hard to perfect, were the SBDs. Silent but Deadly. They would glide up next to me, rest a moment and then scream, "SBD!" cackle shrilly and run away as fast as they could leaving me in the dust. I was either on the phone with a girlfriend, or nose first, absorbed in a book, oblivious to the rest of the world, and thus, easy game and unable to catch them and pay them back.