I was recently asked to share some stories of my younger brother who will be 70 in February. We grew up in a small town in Iowa where our Dad was the postmaster and my mother was an art teacher. There were four of us – I was the oldest, then Bruce 16 months younger, Brian 5 years younger and Beth 10 years younger. We did not have a lot of money, but we never wanted for anything, so it was a pretty idyllic life – EXCEPT for Brian!
Though I love him dearly today, NO ONE made my life more miserable growing up than Brian! Being five years younger gave him the advantage of being “just a little kid” to my parents, and with his charm and mischievous giggle, he got by with murder (or so I thought at the time) in our house.
When he was about seven, my grandfather brought him a pet alligator from Florida. He kept it in his room in a tub, and as it grew, it could get out. Every single time, it would come to my bedroom because it was the southern most point in our house. I would yell and scream (which just absolutely delighted him!) and then make him wash the floor with Babo……YUK!!!! He held onto that thing until it got to be about two feet long, I think just to torment me.
After dinner we all had jobs – either carry out the dishes, wash the dishes, or dry the dishes. Conveniently, that was ALWAYS the time that Brian just HAD to go to the bathroom. He would stay in there grunting and singing until almost all the work was done and then suddenly graciously appear to do his part. My other brother, Bruce, and I would complain every night, but my Dad always said “Nature came first” – Ha!
When we were young, we only had a sedan car with a front seat and a back seat. There were six of us, so there were three in each seat. The rule was that Brian and I always had to be in the OPPOSITE seats, so if I was in the front with Mother and Dad, he had to be in the back. Almost every summer we would drive 8 hours to Colorado to see relatives. Of course we had no AC in those days, either, so it was uncomfortable to say the least. On those boring long drives Brian would do his best to drive me crazy! He made up the dumbest possible song about “Happy Anniversary, Farmer Alf, to Thee”” and would sing it over and over and over at the top of his lungs. When I would have hysterics and my Dad would finally tell him to “BE QUIET”, he would wait a little bit, and then he would start HUMMING the tune. Of course that started the whole scene over again! This would go on for the whole eight hours – it is amazing that my folks did not put him out of the car and drive on! 😉
When I was in Junior High, probably the worst time of a young girl’s life in terms of self-esteem. one day Brian and his friend, Larry. got up at 5:30 am, took chalk and wrote “ANNE IS FAT” (they called me Anne growing up since I had an Aunt Barbara) on EVERY SQUARE OF THE SIDEWALK FOR EIGHT BLOCKS to the school, I am sure giggling every moment of the way anticipating my reaction! Of course I was humiliated and they were delighted. That night my Dad made them go back and wash it all off, which caused even more attention. When it was time for his “punishment” amidst my wailing and tears, instead of staying mad, my folks got tickled with his giggles and ended up letting him off with a light sentence. I was FURIOUS! Can you imagine what they might have done with all that energy that could have been positive????
The year he was nine when Polaroid cameras were brand new, he got one for Christmas. The next week he proceeded to take pictures of me just getting up in the morning, in the bathroom, and even putting on my girdle (which girls wore when they dressed up in those days – a wicked version of “Spanks!”). Then the next week he took them to the high school where I was a Freshman and sold them to the highest bidder. Of course all the guys got to see them, so again he made me want to strangle him! I can just see him giggling today……..and all he got was a lecture and the camera taken away for a week.
One of my very first dates was with a guy in my sophomore class to a school dance. Brian knew how important it was to me, so of course he thought up a “plan.” The closet of his room had a window that opened onto our front porch, so when the young man came to pick me up, all dressed in his best suit, Brian dumped a bucket of water out the window on his head. Again, my parents tried to be mad but had to stifle their grins in light of Brian’s absolute delight. I still think of that poor date today.
The end result of all this (he thought good-natured) heckling was that when I was a senior in high school, I wrote a Humorous Declamation about Brian titled, “A Fly in my Ointment”……and I WON the entire State Conference! I so love the person he has become today, but it is a wonder that I did not KILL him growing up!
Now Brian has a gorgeous Executive Retreat Center in Chaing Mia, Thailand, where he coaches high level executives from all over the world. I wonder what they will think when they read about this mischievous younger brother! 😉
Here is a picture of the two of us on his visit to Florida last year.
To learn more about Barbara’s work, go to www.barbaraglanz.com