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. Stephanie-
    I had a smile from ear to ear reading this. It brought back so many different memories from when we were little. I thought for sure, while halfway through reading this post, you’d get him back by bringing up the time he called home after his first week or so at military college. (I can’t remember which one he attended, but I do remember, in our naïve & younger eyes, he might as well have gone away to Harvard.) You eagerly told all of us neighborhood girls about the entire phone conversation right after we had gotten out of school. Let’s just say “THE call” was the 1st call home he’d been given & he was a little shell-shocked & homesick…  And this is REALLY understating what I actually remember you telling us.  But just in case my MS/CNS SLE/APS lesioned brain made all of this up & THEY have now started to distort all of my childhood memories too, I didn’t want to falsely embarrass him with inaccurate   details on the Internet. (I know right? Between the education & medical fields, & now the Internet, how many different acronyms can one mind hold? Didn’t see those coming either…especially since we grew up in sunny FL & not in a cold, lesion conducive environment. So far, I know from my Docs at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota that my lesions are located in areas that have definitely shortened my short-term memory;) But now I feel like an Alzheimer’s patient, because I can remember so many details of my childhood so vividly. Sometimes the memories are so surreal that I feel like I’m almost reliving every moment. Does that sound coo-coo or what?! At least God gave ME this disease; I think he just knew I would continue to always put a smile on my face for others  & I can laugh at myself when it’s hot outside (or I’m having a flare) & my speech starts to slur, my legs make me stumble, or I just fall right over all the way to the ground. When these things happen & people don’t know my current health conditions, they always stare & most of the time don’t even know how to respond. I usually get up & do the old dancing snake move with my arms, but somedays I probably look more like Elaine, off of Seinfeld, trying to bust a move.) 

    Anyway, enough about my current memory status & back to your big brother… Who knows? All of us girls could have been asking where he was, because we all  drooled over him & idolized the ground he walked on & the pool he swam in. Now don’t let him read this & get an inflated head or anything. Anyone older than us was cool & interesting: male or female!

    I’m so glad I signed up to follow your blog.  The memories came flooding back from taping WQYK when it wasn’t Country & still Pop Music with their Top 5 at nine. I remember hitting redial a million times to try & get through. Jodi F & I were successful one night & we told them we were 20 years old in the most mature alto voices we could muster. We got to introduce one of Prince’s songs as the number one hit live on the radio. You wont believe this, but somewhere in my storage boxes I still have a tape of us singing the Annie Soundtrack at one of my birthday party sleepovers. I think we held auditions & tape recorded them. We were able to replay the songs quickly
    enough because we were listening to it on a record player. We didn’t have to sit there & hit rewind or fast forward a million times until we got to the right song. 

    Boy! How times have changed! I’m going to have to read back through your blog & check out any other great childhood stories I might have missed. I started to write you back about the reunion, but will save that for another day. As you can see, I’m still as talkative as ever & will try my best to shorten my next reply. If I can;) 

    • Caren,

      Omg I didn’t know you were sick. 😦 I’m so sorry to hear it. Please let me know anything I can do to help. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
      Also, Jeb and I actually happen to be distributors for a supplement called Protandim that has been helpful for people with MS. Montel Williams is on it, you can Google him talking about it. Here’s a link to the website so you can read about it if you want.

      Thank you so much for your comment and for following my blog. Your memory was spot on about my brother and military school. I can’t believe you remember the phone call and all of that! 🙂


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