My Big Brother, Tales of Younger Sibling Survival

snap n pop photo

My older brother sparked (no pun intended) a memory the other day when he forwarded me this image.

Ahhhh…good old snap n’ pops. One time he made me eat one. I’m not kidding.

He is three years older than me and as a kid I always wanted to hang out with him. He, understandably, was not as thrilled to have his little sister always trying to tag along with him and his friends. He was passably nice to me most of the time but he was prone to bouts of big brother bullying. He was a boy, that’s what they do.

He played a ton of pranks on me, but I was so eager just to be allowed to be in his presence that I kept coming back for more. I should have known whenever he was being extraordinarily nice that something bad was going to happen to me soon, but I was too naive to pick up on those kinds of warning signs.

I was probably about five or six years old when the snap n’ pop incident occurred. My brother called me into his room and said, “Hey, I’ve got some candy for you, do you want it?”  As luck would have it, I did feel like treating myself to some candy. He said, “Okay, you can have it, but you have to eat it under my bed”.

A more discerning child might have stopped to wonder why the candy should have to be eaten under the bed. But not me, I happily crawled under the bed excited to taste the proffered candy. I don’t remember what happened next because my memory is fuzzy about the whole event for some reason…I don’t know, perhaps because a tiny bomb detonated in my head! I’m told I chewed on the snap n’ pop for a good 15 seconds before it exploded and I became the world’s smallest sacrificial mouth- bomber.

Why didn’t I question the fact that I was eating candy with the paper still on it? Not sure, probably just had no reason to suspect that anyone would give a little girl an exploding packet of gunpowder to put in her mouth.  Anyway, no harm was done and we all get a good laugh about it nowadays.

Another time, the prank was more emotionally traumatic than physical. This was at a youth football league event. He played football and I was a cheerleader. I was probably 8 years old at this point and enthralled with his 11 year old friends. I thought they were the coolest and funniest guys in the world. They, of course, did not know that I existed…until this day. My brother called me over to where he and all his teammates were standing in a group. As gullible as ever, I bounded right over. (Again, my first clue should have been that I was being enthusiastically invited to join them).

My brother said, “Will you ask my friend Matt how far his mom runs every day. He won’t tell me.”

“Sure!” I said, blindly obeying orders. (I would have made an ideal prospect for a cult—do whatever you’re told and ask no questions.) So I asked his friend, “How far does your mom run every day?”  Matt cried, “That’s not funny, my mom doesn’t have any legs!”

I was HORRIFIED. I started crying hysterically and hitting my brother. “Why would you make me ask him that?” At this point I was still operating under the assumption that they had made me an unwitting party to their cruelty in picking on this poor boy with the disabled mother.

Realizing that they might have pushed me over the edge, my brother and Matt both assured me that Matt’s mom did indeed have legs and it was all just a hilarious joke. Somehow, realizing that I was the actual butt of the joke, in front of an entire football team of older boys, didn’t make me feel much better.

There was also the time when I was in junior high and I had made my own “radio show” by splicing together songs from the radio and recordings of myself cutting some real snazzy DJ intros (think of the cheesiest DJ voice you have ever heard and multiply it by three). I even sang along (terribly) with the songs. This seemed like a really good way to entertain myself until my brother got hold of my little radio show tapes and played them for his friends. Truthfully though, I brought that one on myself. I should never have left recorded evidence lying around. I thank the good-lord-baby-Jesus there was no YouTube at that time. Person-to-person humiliation was bad enough, no need for it to be viral.

In later years we had our own “teen phone line” in the house and one of those old answering machines that had an actual tape in it. (Holy crap, times have changed.)  My brother changed the outgoing message on the tape to say, “Hi. Stephanie can’t come to the phone right now because she has diarrhea…”  And I didn’t find out about it until a boy called, of course. What a bastard, right!?! But even I have to admit, that was good one.

I’m happy to report that my brother has actually grown into a nice man and a good father to his two boys. However, I also take great delight in being able to deliver some karmic comeuppance to him by sharing these memories with my nephews at the most opportune moments—like when he is scolding them for being mischievous. With a big grin I ask, “Hey, have I ever told you boys about the time that your father made me eat a snap n’ pop? Come sit next to me and let Aunt Steph tell you a story…”

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2 thoughts on “My Big Brother, Tales of Younger Sibling Survival

  1. Awesome! These stories might’ve come right out of my brother’s playbook. Did your brother and my brother attend the same charm school? My brother rigged up my dresser drawers with snaps so they’d explode when I opened them. He probably saw it on an episode of M.A.S.H. But never in my wildest dreams could I imagine ever EATING one.

    Great stories.

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