Friday, November 23, 2007

Hallmark moments

When my younger brother was three or four, he invented a game he called "There, There and There." This meant that he would creep up behind you -- maybe in the living room, maybe in the middle of the mall -- and say:

"There ..." (poking one side of your lower back with his tiny index finger)
"There ..." (poking the other side)
"AND THERE!!" (jabbing you right between the butt cheeks and laughing maniacally)

Needless to say, the rest of the family loathed this game and would try to flee or stop him before he got to the third "there," but it usually happened so fast that we couldn't escape, or at least not without causing a scene in public. As a result, we all spent a lot of time jumping, saying "HEY!" and clapping both hands over our rear ends in violated horror. My parents alternated between scolding him and making jokes about him growing up to be a proctologist; I told them that he wasn't going to live to grow up, because I was going to kill him if he didn't knock it off. (I was 12 at the time and did not enjoy having my dignity compromised by anyone, much less a little blond squirt with a Buster Brown haircut and an evil grin.)

My brother and I don't have a relationship now -- he moved away to live with our mother, stepdad and half-sister when he was about 11 and I was 19 or 20, and we never really got to know each other as adults. He got married last year, and he and his wife live in upstate New York, where I think he's working on a history degree. We've spoken about three times in the last five years, not because we dislike each other, but because we're basically strangers. Sometimes I wish I could ask him if he remembers things like the "There, There and There" game, or other things that happened to us later on, but I can't: I don't know how to get in touch with him, and he'd be baffled if I suddenly called.

It's strange how something you hated at the time can almost become a fond memory in the absence of other memories. Don't you think?

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