The Perfect Brother

From the day he drew his first breath, some _____( add your own number, Rex) years ago, he was the Prince of Greenwood Center in my mother’s eyes. I say this , not as his only sister, but it was a well known fact that he also “took after” her side of the family with his darker looks and he had the “look”. You know, the “look” that spells innocent in capital letters? He had it. It came with him; his own personal birthright.

It didn’t take long for me to discover that not only did I not look like my mother’s side of the family with the blonde hair, blue eyes and don’t give a crumb attitude so imbedded in the Martin side, but that I lacked an innocent look. I looked guilty when I was completely innocent…my own personal birthright.

I remember distinctly the brawl in which Rex and I were engaged when mother emerged on the scene in the little room. At the time I may ( or may not have had) a broom in my hand. I admit to nothing. The end result was the smashing of a very valuable lamp chimney on whose light we depended the minute the sun went down. I swear my mother did not, did not even look in his direction. She took one look at the broom, at me, pointed at the open door and said and I quote after sixy some odd years, “Young lady ( she always called me that when she was furious and just short of putting me up for adoption) you get out in the neighborhood, see who has a spare chimney and don’t come home without one.” I went to the door, turned and yelled my most famous chant of the times, “HE started it”. Two of her steps in my direction and I hit the dirt with feet flying. We had light that night so apparently I was successful…the rest of the scenario blurs in my mind.

Another uppermost in my mind was the famous door yard fight where we had flung everything possible at each other until we came to our foot wear. It was in the middle of this melee of throwing shoes at each other when mother came out the front door and yelled, “What are you doing?” Strange in looking back, Rex did not move. I ran like the wind for the main road and in the breeze behind me was mother’s voice echoing, “you have to come home some time, young lady.” (Notice the ‘young lady’ title again). I did go home but I think I waited until we had company because she did not want to show her wrath ( i.e. dirty laundry) in public.

As we grew older and in high school, his friends were my “buddies” too. His best friend was my favorite buddy, but there came a time when that friendship was almost severed.  Seems there was a Sadie Hawkins Dance, and as you know, the girls have to ask the boys. No way did I have any interest in any boy there nor did I want to even attempt to dress up and attend. OK, so his pleading look ( another birthright) got to me when he said his buddy wanted to go but would only go with me. Long story short. I asked, we went, the buddy forgot to put gas in the car at Phon Brown’s filling station and we ran out just about where the road to Johnny’s Bridge is today on Rt. 26. Oh, no, the buddy said. Well, another so called buddy came along, and off to the nearest gas selling establishment they went and returned with a red five gallon can of the needed fuel to take us to this dreaded event.  The dance was ok..we might have taken six steps around the floor and talked with everyone else we knew that night…and then on the way home..oh, yes, everyone was gathering at a local hang out by a pond. Actually that is what we did back then..just hung out, talked, joked, some sneaked a beer and home we went. For some reason, some guy made a remark in my direction that the “good” buddy did not like and he lashed out with his fist, missed the guy completely and drove his hand into a birch tree, barking up every knuckle on that hand. The ride home was interesting, interspersed with whimpers from behind the wheel. That is why I had no interest in asking any boy to any dance. Period.

In spite of my lapses in judgement and agreeing to incidents like the one described above, Rex rescued me a few times from a few mis-judgments on my part. I dated one guy and at the end of that very long, miserable evening swore I would never go near him again. One Sunday afternoon, he drove in our yard in his very new , low slung 1950’s wide-finned car and inquired about me. Upon seeing the grill of the car, I slung my body to the stairs leading to the attic screaming for Rex to get rid of the guy. I was not an eye witness. It isn’t easy to see when one is under a bed behind two cardboard boxes and a blanket over one’s eyes…however, it was told that Rex wandered casually up to the car, the guy rolled his window down, Rex leaned in, put one finger under the guy’s nose and told him to pull a “u-ee”, get out of the yard and he never wanted to see him near his sister again. The guy blinked, did indeed pull the “u-ee” and I never had to see him again. For that time, I thank my brother.

The last I knew, Rex had forgiven me for putting our one baseball bat on Dad’s sawhorse and using the buck saw on it. It was my turn to bat and that is what he got for being selfish and not giving me an extra turn. That is probably the only time I was to blame for any incidents we may have engaged in during our growing up years.

Then high school graduation came. Rex left and went to Korea. Boy , did I hate to admit I missed him. I was married and to this day I remember his coming through the door at the farm, seeing Debra Jo, a few months old lying on the couch, crossing the kitchen and saying, “Hey, this has to be my niece”….and for a few seconds there all my cranky feelings of his being Ma’s pet went right out the window.

Next month, another birthday, Rex. We always knew we’d make it, didn’t we…shoe throwing and all!