Plate Glass Window+Loose Knob+Kid Brother+The Humorless Twit=Disaster | January 2003

 

Oh my God! Another year has gone by–or is that, “buy?” The horror….

Now that the holidays are over, I’d like to see a t-shirt that says, “I survived the holidays.” Or maybe the next version of Survivor on TV could be not about surviving a geographic location, but surviving the holidays. Extra points would be given to those participants with impossible family members. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I’d probably win!

Naw, I’m just kidding. My family’s not that bad. They’re just bad enough to make life difficult, but not enough for me to be able to win such an aversion of Survivor.

Family, ah yes. And children. I don’t have any children of my own (yet). But when I do, I sure as heck hope they’re not as bad as I was. You see, I wasn’t merely “bad.” I was devious.

Going out and doing bad things was way too easy for me. More importantly, it was way too easy to get caught and consequently, get into trouble. So, no way was I going to get caught holding the bag. Uh-uh, no sirree, not me. That’s what younger brothers are for.

I’m the oldest of three brothers and a stepsister. My “oldest” brother is just two-and-a-half years younger than me. And one of my favorite playtime activities was to talk him into doing “the forbidden.” I would enjoy–vicariously–“the forbidden,” while he’d get the blame and the punishment. It was an arrangement that worked perfectly–at least for me, of course.

One of my most “memorable” experiences happened when I was about five or six. We were living in Indiana then, in a house with a huge picture window in the living room. Unfortunately for my parents–but fortunately for me–this was the same room where the TV set was (yes, after opening up this column with talk about a TV program, you had to figure I’d manage to get a TV set into this story).

Now, in those days–it was the early 70’s–few TVs had remote controls. You’d have to change the channel by getting up and turning a dial. In our case, the dial would come off the set (it was an old TV set).

This loose dial had plenty of heft and weight to it. Perfect, I thought, for hurling through the huge picture window in the living room! Except, of course, for the minor detail that my parents (my father especially) would tan my hide for doing so.

Enter Tom, my then three-or-so-year-old brother. Luckily for me, Tom was big enough to throw things with some strength and accuracy. This ability of his would come in handy for what I had in my young, twisted mind.

I gave Tom the detached dial for our TV set and told him to throw it through the window. He happily obliged, shattering it into what looked like millions of shards and splinters of glass, spilling onto our living room floor and the front porch.

I laughed, hard. My brother laughed too. My father wasn’t as amused. He made sure we were alright and then, because it was Tom who had actually broken the window and he was just three years old, he didn’t get into any trouble. My father simply called the glass company and had them install a new window. After uttering a few obscenities in Spanish (my parents had only come from Cuba seven years before), of course.

The TV set dial was found and replaced on the TV set. We went back to watching TV and my father went back to whatever it was he was doing.

Think that’s the end of this story? Think again, hehehehehe…

Once everyone was settled down, I grabbed the dial from the TV set again. Again, I handed it to Tom. This time, I didn’t have to tell him what to do. Too bad he never joined the Army, he was so good at following orders.

Yes, my brother Tom threw the dial through the window a second time that day. My father–understandably angry by now–came back to the living room to find the picture window in pieces a second time. He called the glass company again, and this time–it must have been sympathy or something–the glass company replaced the window for free.

But the best part of this story is that we’ve talked about this incident at family gatherings for time immemorial and my father swears he knew I talked my brother into doing what he did. To this day, though, I still haven’t asked him, “If you knew I told Tom to do it, why didn’t I get into trouble?” I’m afraid the answer might come back to haunt me whenever they read his will.