Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

My first memory is romping through the grass with my brother, Johnny. He said, "I'll help you, Sissy," as we climbed over a fence on our Indiana farm. Being only 17 months younger, I tagged along after him everywhere he went. After that, I recall him pushing me into the creek, throwing dirt clods at me, pinching me when no one was looking, and the ususal pranks little boys pull on their younger sisters.

We became friends as we evolved into young adults, sharing some of the same friends. Not telling on each other. We joined the church together and even double-dated a few times. He taught me to drive and let me drive his old jalopy when I needed to drive my friends around.

But the pranks continued and became more sophisticated. One night I went to bed early, declaring to my family that I wanted to sleep, since I had to meet the band bus at 5:00am the next morning. John's room was next to mine and he made sure I was awakened every 30 minutes from 9-1 by rapping on our adjoining wall, slapping my window, and even pounding on the piano in his room.

When my alarm went off at 4:30, I was exhausted and angry, vowing revenge. My mind whirled all day of possible pay-backs as I dragged myself around the state fair grounds having only half as much fun as I'd planned.

Finally, I came up with the perfect revenge.I collected alarm clocks from all my friends, then waited for the perfect night when he needed to get a good sleep. That day I slipped into his room and hid alarm clocks everywhere: in the piano bench, under the bed, behind the curtains,behind books, etc. ALL SET TO GO OFF AT 30-MIN INTERVALS.The first one went off at midnight, the last around four or so. Even though I had stuffed tissue into my ears, I smiled as I heard him running around his room trying to find the noise and stop it. Just when he got back to sleep, another went off. Ah....Revenge was so sweet. I'm glad I had so many friends. (Some of the clocks were electric, so he found those easily, but those little wind-up jobs just had to wear themselves out.)

Later I followed him off to college and we even taught English in the same jr-high school for a few years. He drops in now and we visit often, laughing about old times. No one mentions the alarm clock night or that it ended the pranks. He proofread my first book for me and only later did I wonder if the title Why Johnny Died was a Freudian slip. He hasn't bothered to read my newest book, The Secret of Bailey's Chase. I don't know why, maybe a little sibling rivalry.

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