I feel the need

I feel the need

Friday, March 18, 2011

A story from my childhood: Go Sniff Your Brother

Good afternoon! 

I know, two posts from me in one day?  Well, this is to make up for not blogging much this week and probably not blogging much next week.  So enjoy!

We were at Mother's house earlier this week and when Brother and I get together, we always wind up telling stories of our growing up.  This always results in Mother shouting something to the effect of "I wasn't that bad!" Generally, after that, everyone shuts up and goes home.

It's moments like these that make our holidays so much fun to look forward to!

Anyway, the story that came up this week was one from our teen years.  I'm four years older than Brother and while we've always gotten along pretty well, we've rarely had much in common.  In high school, I was a studious person who liked music and drama and didn't have many friends.  He was a tormentor of teachers, an all around average student, who had a ton of friends he was able to lead down the wrong path.

At the time of this story, however, Mother was still convinced that Brother was the one being led.

The town we lived in was split in half by a river that flowed into Lake Michigan.  This made for some fun moments when, as a teen, you'd race your car past the drawbridge barricades and get across the bridge before it actually rose.  (Of course, I wouldn't know anything about that...I never got the car.)  Near the river a few blocks from our house, was a funeral home and, next to the funeral home, was an old playground.  No one really knows why there was a playground next to a funeral, but no body asks those questions.  It was a dumpy little playground, the kind that has a frame for three swings, but one's all wrapped around the top bar because some jack wagon flung it around and around until it was stuck.  One swing is missing, and the final one is there, but there's always a big mud puddle under it.

Next to the swings was a climbing rig, a jungle gym of sorts.  Next to that was a merry go round, the kind where you'd push it and run and run and run and then hold on to the bar and try to fly while it spun.  Body mass and basic physics was beyond us.  Most of the time we just fell down and got hurt on those things. Which is probably why you don't see many of them around.

Anyway, Brother and his somewhat shady friend "Jack" liked to "hang out" at this playground.  Now, they were in 8th grade, beyond the age of someone who would enjoy playing on old playground equipment, so Mother was convinced, CONVINCED there was only one other thing they were doing.

Yes, she was convinced they were smoking.

My guess, based on stories Brother has told me in confidence, is that the were doing things far worse than smoking.  They could have plotted the downfall of Western Civilization, he and Jack, given their mental capacities and their basic loathing for the Establishment.  (Ironically, Brother is now a ridiculously staunch conservative.  As for Jack, I'm not sure.  I think I heard he was in prison...or he's a Senator someplace.)

Anyway, every time Brother said he was going to hang out with Jack at the playground my mother had a job for me.

"When your brother comes home sniff him."

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

How much fun is it to be known as the family snitch?  Not fun at all.  I already had the onus moniker of "goody goody" riding on me at school, I didn't need that reputation at home, too.  Sniff my brother?  I don't think so mom.

But open defiance was never part of my teen play book.  I was one of those quiet kids who went about her business and didn't cause trouble.  Life was good.  No one yelled at me.  I didn't want to rock that very peaceful boat because had I done that, then my parents would have taken far too big an interest in me and what I was doing.  For a teen, that's the kiss of death...or so my children would have me believe!

So, on the days when Brother would be at the playground, it was my job to meet him at the door and sniff him, and then report back to Mother as to whether I detected cigarette smoke  "or anything else."

I should share with you that, during my teen years, I had a very underdeveloped sense of smell.  Even now, I don't have a great sense of smell, but back in the day smells didn't register with my brain much.  Plus, I had no idea what "anything else" might smell like.  Oh yeah, and I wasn't going to rock the boat and rat on Brother.  Not that I didn't want him to get in trouble, the little goober had it coming and then some.  But when he was in trouble, the whole house was tense.  Dad would wash the dishes....the only time he washed dishes in when my parents were tense about Brother.  Mother would go upstairs and read her Bible.  (Again, the only time she did that was when she was tense about Brother.) 

So he'd come home after being at the playground and Mother would send me to the front door, "Go sniff your brother."

Weak sense of smell + love of peace + not wanting to be the rat + it was a stupid thing to make me do =

It didn't matter what I smelled, my answer was always, "Nope, he's clean."

And no, I've never made Peaches sniff Skippy.  Or the other way around. 

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