#TBT: My Boys

I was eight years old when I got brothers.  They were older than me, not babies, so I was leery at first.  A baby brother would have been a dream because I could tote him around in my dolly stroller and dress him up in my dolly clothes with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of bossiness.  (Martie never let me boss her around even though I was a full 20 months older than her.)  Instead I got these wild things who ran non-stop into and out of the woods, who double-dog dared me to launch myself into the creek from a rope swing, and who sometimes pushed me out of hammocks onto some very pointy rocks.  I was crazy about them.

Barracuda!

All the girls that we went to school with were crazy about them, too.  Martie and I got phone calls all the time from these much older girls who’d ask, “Vawn nere?”

Martie would look at me, her forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and hold out the phone to me mouthing, “I don’t know what she’s saying?”

“Hello?” I’d say, and then I’d hear, “Yah, Vawn nere?”  I’d look back at Martie, my forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and shrug.  It took us a little bit to realize that Popular Girl Tammi wasn’t really calling to talk to Martie or me, despite her asking for us, but was calling to determine if Vaughan (Brother Bear) was home.  Oh.  Vawn nere? = is Vaughan there?

“He’s fahr,” another girl said admiringly of Brother Boo.  By this point I’d caught on to the lingo.

“Yes, fire would be a good descriptor for him,” I’d say, knowing that my version of fire and her version of fire were two different fires.

Hotties

After the boys learned to drive, and it was early as they had been clamoring for that privilege since they were able to sit upright, they’d worry the mess out of Madre and Poppa to go somewhere.

“I’ll run over and get some milk from the dairy farm,” they’d promise and then roar off in the old Cadillac, always returning with the car but sometimes not with the milk.

“I’ll just go get the dog food, no problem, can I have the keys?” they’d ask, right before they disappeared down the country dirt road, not to return again for two hours.

“I’ll mow the grass,” Brother Boo yelped, and he’d drive lines up and down the yard all afternoon.

That grass mowing business left me raging with jealousy.  I had been begging to mow grass since I was too short to even reach the push mower handles.  My cousin, Reid, was tasked with that chore before we got brothers and then afterwards, the boys took care of it, so Martie and I were never allowed the privilege.

“Show me how to do that,” I remember asking Brother Boo.  “Please, I want to do that.”

Y’all, for three whole minutes he patiently taught me.

“Let the clutch out slowly, you want it to be smooth,” he said as I positioned myself on the seat.

I tried slow and smooth just like he said but at nine, slow and smooth were not yet in my vocabulary.  I wobbled all over my one line, mad at him because I couldn’t get it right.

“Are you sure slow, because this isn’t working,” I snarked.

That soured Brother Boo on the game and he said, “No, actually, it’s easier if you just pop the clutch.  I was messing with you before.”

So I, ever trusting, popped the clutch and nearly flew backwards off that lawn mower.  Brother Boo laughed at me, claimed his rightful place in the driver’s seat and smoothly drove off to finish his mowing.

Glory

Later, once we all knew how to drive and had cars with which to do it, our brothers would drive theirs until they had no gasoline left, and then ask if they could borrow ours.  Brother Bear was particularly charming in his requests and he’d fly off after we handed over the keys.  Hours later, he would return from his party or his game or his date and he’d leave the car in the front yard with almost enough fuel to drive three miles to the nearest store.  Oh, it was irritating!  It happened EVERY TIME he borrowed a car yet Martie and I still willingly handed over the keys when he asked for them.

As kids do, we all grew up and turned into our own people.  My brothers started a band and played on big stages for a while.  They got married and had families and pursued other dreams when the band faded away.  Sometimes we stay in touch with regularity and sometimes we have to have marathon sessions for catching up because it’s been too long.

 

Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

When Poppa got sick, Brother Bear was able to fly in to lend his support.  I picked him up from the airport and drove him to the hospital where we sat with the rest of the family in a vigil for hours.  We soon realized that the vigil would continue for longer than hours, more like days, and Brother Bear and I took turns staying overnight with Poppa because he couldn’t be left alone.  I’d drive home at midnight to sleep and then in the morning would relieve Brother Bear so he could take a turn at my house.  He’d take off in my car, pick up food and then crash for a few hours before coming back to relieve me.  It was a terrible time.

After a particularly trying night, I left the hospital, weary to my bones and sad.  The two of us knew before anyone else, I think, that Poppa as we knew him would not be coming home.  I got in my car and started it up for my drive across town.  I glanced down at my dashboard and you know what I noticed?  My brother had filled up my car.  My tank was full.  I laughed through my tears all the way home.

Handsome

This Thanksgiving, the four of us could not be any further apart.  Not one of us will see the other today.  It’s okay, though, because we don’t need to see each other to know we are loved.  Our hearts are connected by more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

 

 

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Cutest

This cute little thing is DJ, Lynnette’s little boy.  He is obsessed with Spider Man and when we asked him to pose for his Halloween picture, this is what he did.  Don’t you just want to squeeze him till he pukes?

Spider Man!

Spider Man!

This year, instead of giving out the standard 50 pounds of chocolate to my neighborhood kids, I got to see how the other side lives and take my own kids trick-or-treating.  Pooh and Tigger live out in the country, and while they can trick-or-treat at the measly three or four houses around them, they don’t really get the experience of neighborhood trick-or-treating.  You know, the kind where you get so much candy that you can barely lift your pillowcase anymore and your parents are screaming for you to quit with the chocolate already because it’s 12:30 am and you are still bouncing off the walls due to extra high sugar consumption.  That kind of trick-or-treating.  The good kind.

Coach, their daddy, drove them up to my house where we slapped on makeup in a frenzy and changed into costumes lickety split and then sat on pins and needles waiting for it to be dark enough to go spooking door-to-door.  All that anticipation from Pooh and Tigger, and also DJ because he needed to trick-or-treat in a friendly neighborhood, and we only walked through two cul-de-sacs before these children had more candy than they’d ever seen in a lifetime.

 

Dead Softball Player (why?) and Goth Fairy

Dead Softball Player (why?) and Goth Fairy

“We are done, Aunt Jimmie,” they said, and I looked at them aghast.

“You’ve not even walked half the neighborhood,” I said.

“Yeah, but my bag is too heavy,” said Pooh.  “It’s too much.” Tigger nodded, and let her bag droop to the ground where it could rest on the concrete instead of her arm.

These children are amateurs, I tell you.  Total novices.

You know how I tell you all the time that I don’t want children? It’s the truth.  I don’t want any, and aside from all my physical and selfish reasons, that is largely because I already have the two cutest ones in the world.  (I’ll take three if DJ ever lets me count him as one of mine.) The whole point of this story before I got off on the trick-or-treat tangent was to tell you about the game that Pooh and Tigger love to play, the one I catch them at most often, because this is just about the cutest thing I ever did see.

One date night weekend I walked into Martie and Coach’s house to find Tigger wearing her purple fluffy skirt, her pink kitty cat sweater and her black boots. She had on her fake glasses and was carrying an old briefcase that Madre bought new in 1974.  Tigger was very earnestly finger-wagging at Pooh, saying, “You need to clean this place up. This is a disgrace.”

Finger Wagging at It's Finest

Abby Mace is Tigger’s Alias

She then withdrew a portfolio from her briefcase and selected a hand drawn form upon which she had written instructions.  She scribbled earnestly on the form and then in flamboyant flourishes wrote a number.  She handed the form over to Pooh who sighed heavily and looked around in dismay at her surroundings.  Tigger then marched off, boots whuffing as she breezed down the hall.  It was officious and intimidating and adorable because she was wearing a kitty cat sweater and a purple skirt.

“What are they doing?” I asked Martie.

“Playing health inspector,” she replied.  “It’s their favorite game.  They dress up in their most professional clothes and take turns writing each other up and assigning public health food scores.”

Monthly Schedule of Inspection Visits

Weekly Schedule of Inspection Visits

Oh, you guys!  Oh, my stomach!  I laughed so hard that Tigger walked off in a snit.  She takes her job very seriously.  I tried to tell her that I loved it so much, that I could not get over the cleverness of it, but I couldn’t really get my words past the tears in my throat and the giddy laughter that bubbled from my mouth.

 

Officious Form

Sarah Marcs is Pooh’s Alias

I’ve worried these last few years about the effects of video games and lame crafty ideas and apps on a phone that do everything for you.  I worry that our children will have no imagination left. I guess that was needless on my part.  Give my kids some paper and a pen and pair of fake glasses, and the games they play will blow your mind.

Also, before I forget, I updated my last post about my date night with Pee-Tah.  You should check that out.

UPDATED: Date Night With Pee-Tah

Pee-tah said to me on Saturday night, “Jimmie, this is terrible. We are perfect together except for the whole part where we both like boys and/or your being female. I mean, I’m taller than you and everything.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “I know. You don’t even have a stupid name and I bet you barely know what NASCAR is.”

We looked at each other resignedly for a minute and then put on our matching hoodies and went to the grocery store.

For the record, my date nights with Pee-tah are the best date nights I’ve had since . . . . er, I’m trying to think here . . . . . okay! I have a story.

A long time ago when I lived in Alabama, I had that group of friends that I wrote about recently, and in that group was a guy I’ll call Lee-Lee. Lee-Lee was just about the nicest man ever, kind of shy, a little endearingly awkward, and significantly taller than me. He was a member of the National Guard, having joined years before as a means to support himself while he earned a degree. One of the perks of that military program was a military ball, and one year Lee-Lee found himself without a date. It was on a random Tuesday night that he called me and said, “Jimmie, can you help me? I need a date for this ball and I’d like to ask someone who will be fun, someone I really like, but someone who also understands that this is a friend date, not a romantic date.”

“Oh, sure,” I yelped as soon as he took a breath, ever helpful. “What about Julie? She would look very pretty in a ball gown and you know how nice she is. Everyone would love her.”

“Well –,“ he started, and then I said, “Or! What about April! She loves to play dress up. She would look gorgeous and would love to hang out with a bunch of men in uniform.”

“Yes, but –,“ he tried again, and I then I hollered, “Hey, what about Jana? She really likes you but you could just tell her that you aren’t looking for a date date, just a friend date. This might make her get over you actually –“

“Jimmie!” he barked. “Stop, would you? I’m asking you if you want to go. Will you go with me to this ball, please?”

Y’all, I seem to have always had trouble seeing myself as desirable, even just as a friend, which is stupid as I’m the most fun person I know. But anyway, I said yes and then I rented the prettiest gown you ever did see, paid money to have my hair put up in pin curls and bought the tallest fancy shoes I could find. Lee-Lee showed up at my door in his uniform and escorted me to the ball in high fashion. We had the best time dancing and laughing, and as I took the 1,000 bobby pins out of my hair that night, I sighed in contented happiness. It was a perfect date. I went out with a gentleman who enjoyed my company, just for me. We laughed and talked and ate and never once did I worry about my safety, my virtue or what he thought when I consumed everything on my plate.

Dating Pee-tah is like that. Every night we spend together watching Bourne movies is a night spent sighing in contentment.

This is what that looks like:

Matching Hoodies!

Matching Hoodies!

Comfort option #1

Comfort option #1 (see below for details)

I love a man in the kitchen

I love a man in the kitchen

Speaks for itself

Speaks for itself

Pee-Tah serenading me from the Methodist Hymnal

Pee-Tah serenading me from the Methodist Hymnal

Studying the BDIYET Recipe

Studying the BDIYET Recipe (also see below for details)

Rawr!

Rawr!

Pee-Tah, the man who thinks eating is a waste of time, does occasionally get hungry, and when he does, he’ll whip out his repertoire of three recipes which includes only comfort foods (spaghetti, tator tot hot dish, and chicken and rice) and let you choose the one that would make you happiest. He then dons an apron and begins to cook, all the while discussing earnestly with you which dessert you’ll make together in his Kitchen Aid mixer. We picked wedding cake and The Best Damn Icing You’ve Ever Tasted. Remember it? It was the icing that I tried to make for Freddie’s birthday which failed miserably?

Icing Failure

Also, remember that Freddie had moderate success with that icing later in the year, making me look like a total novice in the kitchen. Still, it was never quite perfected and Pee-Tah, being a detail-oriented engineer, could not rest until he mastered it. He came as close as anyone will, I suppose, thanks to 45 minutes of whipping sugar and butter in the Kitchen Aid mixer. Our cake was small but completely smothered in icing and was the most delicious cake I have had since I last had cake.

Absolutely magnificent

Magnificent

Later that night, as I took my ponytail holder out of my hair, I sighed in contented happiness. I had just had the perfect date. I went out with a gentleman who enjoyed my company, just for me. We laughed and talked and ate and never once did I worry about my safety, my virtue or what he thought when I consumed everything on my plate as we watched Jeremy Renner beat the snot out of the bad guys. Absolutely perfect.

UPDATED:  The day after I posted this, Pee-Tah sent me a text message that read:  How much do you pay monthly for your cell phone?  Wondering if you and I shouldn’t jump on the same plan.

And then last night he came over and did this.

IMG_3265

(Yes, it was broken again.)

You just don’t find men like this much anymore.