Whatever. I have a question for you.
What’s the worst thing your brother ever did to you?
Hmm. Let me think about it. What’d your sister do to you? Short-sheet your bed?
No. That’s your generation. One year my sister got up in the middle of the night before Easter, found all the goodies, and laughed when she ended up with twenty eggs to my two.
So what about Dil?
Okay, I got one. I call this story ‘The Cricket Revenge’.
Every Friday in second grade, we’d have a special snack before recess. Each week a different kid was responsible for bringin’ in something from their momma’s kitchen: cupcakes, chocolate-chip cookies, brownies, what-have-you.
On my Friday, I sat down to eat my Cornflakes before catchin’ the bus. My mom was already gone—teachers had to report by 7:15, I believe. I don’t think my dad was around, maybe he was sleepin’ in or off hunting with Bob McGibbon.
Anyhow, a cookie tin sat on the table—the one with the Currier and Ives print of kids skatin’ on a pond. A note taped to the side was written in my mother’s careful script: Snack for Clyde. I opened it up, hoping for chocolate crinkles. Nope, Oreos. I figured she must have been busy gradin’ her papers and didn’t have time to fix nothin’ from scratch—which was damn strange ’cause I could have sworn I heard the oven door a couple times after I’d gone to bed. The door’s hinge squealed like a pig.
I took the tin to school and Mrs. Benabe drilled us on subtraction before our spelling test. Then she ordered us to clear our desks and called me up to the front. She walked the rows, placing a white napkin on each desk, an’ I would follow, handin’ out the cookies. I stuck my tongue out at Billy Schumaker and Dean Leahey, ‘cause they were my friends. No one could eat ’til all were served.
At my desk, I sat down and unscrewed the cookie. The crème was the best part; everyone knew that. I took one lick and spit that mess across my desk into Charity Jenkin’s hair.
Late last night, after my mom had packed the tin with chocolate crinkles, Dil snuck down from his bedroom, took the homemade cookies out of the box, and put in the store-bought Oreos. But first he whipped up a mixture of Colgate and salt to substituted for the crème—which he gobbled down, the bastard.
The class went berserk. Kids were cryin’, spittin’, and stuffin' their mouths with napkins. Betty Malone threw up on her new dress. Mrs. Benabe was runnin’ from kid to kid, not knowing what the hell was wrong with us.
Somehow my mom got wind that her son’s second grade class was suffering from some kind of food poisoning and dashed over. She took one of the cookies and sniffed it, then put a tiny bit of the white goo on her tongue. She spit it into a napkin and looked at me. We both said, “Dil!” at the same time.
He went to bed with ten licks of a willow stitch across his hide and no supper. I was pretty satisfied with his punishment until all the kids started callin’ me ‘Oreo’. The mastermind behind the whole business had the nerve to smack me upside the head on the bus and call out, “What’s shakin’, Oreo!” Everyone laugh their asses off, including Yvette Long, who I had a crush on.
That was a mistake. Starting in March, the area schools had a baseball tourney between the fourth and fifth graders and my brother’s team had made it to the finals more on the other teams incompetence than any real talent. But they were excited about winning the trophy. Plus the champions would get special T-shirts and bragging rights for a year.
The week before the big game, I got to work in our back yard and the McGibbon’s field, collecting grasshoppers and crickets. I stored about two hundred of ’em in Bugs travel box. Dad found the box one day an' I told him it was bait.
The night before the game, Dil went to bed around nine or so. Ten minutes later I heard him throw open his door and run downstairs to where my parents were watching Dragnet. By midnight, my parents had given up trying to smash the noisy critters with magazines and newspapers and shut themselves off in their bedroom. They told Dil to keep his door closed and sleep on the couch, but a handful of pissed-off crickets got out and spread throughout the house.
Despite the racket, I slept like a baby. Dil drug his seriously sleep-deprived butt to the breakfast table with twin sets of luggage under his peepers. He was too out of it to suspect fowl play. At the game I sat on the bleachers, jaw aching from trying not to howl with laughter when Dil struck out at bat—twice. The best part was seeing a pop fly to left field hit him on the head as the other team scored two runs.
After it was over, my dad said I was a good brother, sitting through that shit game to support Dil like that.