Monday, May 30, 2011

For My Brother (The Reformed Teaser-Slash-Terrorist)

Colic, that’s what causes terrorism.

My brother (as a small boy) was the biggest terrorist I have ever known. In addition, his early colic is legendary. My mother describes falling asleep while standing up, holding my crying brother as his baby bottle nipples melted in a saucepan. When he finally quit being colicky, he started to tease and terrorize.

Therefore, colic causes terrorism.

My theory is that in retaliation for having suffered indigestion for the first six months of his life my brother became a militant, extremist teaser-slash-terrorist or he’s one of those people that finds a calm, safe, peaceful existence boring. People who are born drinking adrenalin like its orange juice.

That’s my second theory.

 As a dedicated teaser-slash-terrorist, my brother was relentless, inventive and unstoppable. Some of his favorite methods of inflicting torture-slash-terror were to flick my ear or jab my ribs until I wanted to perfect my water boarding techniques. A lot of times he liked to knock things down; you know, like sand castles, stacks of blocks, doll houses—me.

Often the ear flicking attacks were without warning or pattern.  Once, when I was trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich he popped up and started flicking on my ear in a random teasing-slash-terrorist assault.

I told him to stop and began drafting a UN resolution for sanctions against the little pest.

He kept flicking.

I brushed his hand away and threatened drone air strikes.

He came back flicking—harder.

I tried to ignore him while I scooped a giant glob of peanut butter out of the jar with a butter knife.

He flicked away. My ear started to throb. The peanut butter shifted on the knife—slipping and sliding.

Flick. Pause. Flick. Pause. Flick. Flick. Flick. Flickety, flickey, flickey, flick-flick-flick. 

I knocked his hand away and thought about sending in some special forces with a kill order.

He came back flicking.

And on it went, the teasing-slash-terrorism . . . until I whirled on him like a snarling wolverine with opposable thumbs capable of holding a knife. I fully intended to stab him in the stomach. My only hesitation was that I hadn’t upgraded my butter knife to a machete or a bunker buster bomb.

“Stop touching me,” I screamed, “or I’ll stab . . .”

I looked down at the knife blade. It was naked. There was no giant glob of peanut butter. There was nothing but a grease stain where the peanut butter used to be.

“Where did the peanut butter go?”

He shrugged and made a move to flick my ear. Mom walked through the door.  My brother retreated from the field of battle to re-group and look for bomb parts for IED’s.

Over the next few months, I searched the kitchen quietly (strictly black ops) for the missing glob of peanut butter. Flick-boy laid low.

One morning my mother said, “What is that up there?”

“Hurlick?” I mumbled through milk and cereal.

“That, up there, on the wall. What is that?”

I glanced up. High over our heads, in the shadows of the kitchen’s “open beam” ceilings was a streak of oily grease and a petrified wad of peanut butter frozen to the paneled wall.

Dragging a stepladder over to the wall, my mother had finally located the missing peanut butter evidence.

Flick-boy said, “Linda did it.”

I reached for a knife.

The United States Army recognized in my brother a raw talent and made him the boss of all kinds of other folks who, as kids, grew up tormenting their brothers and sisters half to death, and who were addicted to adrenalin. He became a big dog in the army and he got to flick the ears of some really bad boys who deserved it.

And in a great twist of universal teasing, I have a son just like him. God must be a boy.

Linda (It’s not nice to tease the writer sister) Zern


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