Childhood memories seem to be a strange conglomerate of old mental snapshots, synapses-generated fuzzy videos and internally-edited audio recordings of our past.
Some people haul those recollections around like excess baggage while others openly share them like a cherished family album.
Mine is the latter proclivity because I was such a perfect child. The only snag I hit as I drift through the reminiscences of the past is the presence of a pragmatic, steel-trap-memory-possessed little sister named Vicki who claims I was actually something akin to a junior Dillinger, a one-kid motorcycle gang and total juvenile reprobate all rolled into one.
I believe the adage “an unbelievable, outrageous little Atilla-the-Butthead” passed her lips on several occasions when she was feeling somewhat less than benevolent about our earlier sibling relationship. It’s amazing how one incident (or scores of them) can be recalled by two people occupying the same space and time as two completely different scenarios.
If I would have kept a detailed journal of my trek through early life, I’m sure it would have reflected sort of an all-American “Hardy Boys” theme or merely the humble memoirs of a peerless big brother and consummate good kid. Unfortunately I was too busy to take on the tedium of recording my deeds.
My sister, on the other hand was not. She kept what she now refers to as the “Chronicles of an Adolescent Scoundrel." Needless to say I was shocked but the rest of the family is highly amused.
Misunderstandings permeate her diary, such as the unfortunate demise of her pet gerbil that was mistaken for a wild, short-eared mountain hare during a survival outing I was guiding with my Cub Scout pack in our back yard. It was an honest mistake but I still ended up banned as the camp cook for a year.
She even blames me for her aversion to fish. She claims it stems from the time I abruptly dumped a dozen rather large and terrified trout over the shower curtain and into bathtub with her.
After peeling sis off the ceiling and hearing her slanted side of the event, Pop patiently listened to my explanation that I needed the tub immediately to keep the fish from dying and Vicki was taking up space required for a trout rearing experiment. I went on to say that I thought she created a somewhat hostile environment with her incessant thrashing and screams. I also considered it rude that she had turned a couple of nice rainbows into wallpaper.
It was then that Dad’s eyes sort of glazed over and he stormed off in search of an axe to cut a switch the size of a mature sequoia.
To be truthful, I never stood a chance against her because she was one of those unbelievably cute and innocent looking waifs who made great star witnesses during the Inquisition.
After the trout incident and a few other minor indiscretions on my part, she decided to try to elevate me up to the “fourth level” of father’s counseling sessions.
His levels were determined by the perceived seriousness of the infraction, which established the size of the switch.
Jumping out from behind a door and scaring the &%#+ out of her while she carrying a large bowl of liquid Jell-O won me a small branch and a finely aimed butt swat. Anything involving rodents introduced into her slumber parties meant a switch that took two hands to snap off accompanied soon after by a dual cheek smack to the rear. The third level of punishment was what occurred after the unfortunate timing of the trout incident.
Much to her chagrin I never hit the fourth level where it required a chain saw to cut the appropriate limb but she worked on it until the day I left for college. Why, I’m not sure but I blame it on her lack of a sense of humor.
The only reason that I’m bringing this up is because she’s decided to expand her writing career by launching some of tales of my earlier indiscretions and I’ve got a feeling that she’s going to swing her own fourth level switch.
That’s OK. I love my sister dearly and she is a beautiful and talented woman. I just wish that she’d stop copping an attitude about a few youthful missteps on my part.
I’m a changed man.
Believe me, there’s no way I’ll ever tell anybody how she used Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in her training bra until it hit 102 degrees during a family reunion.
Yes, I took some notes too, sis.
Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.