Saturday, January 10, 2009

Think Gitmo Is Harsh? Try Growing Up With My Sister

When we were children, my sister Cathy took her frustrations out on me. She was strong, I was weak. It was your basic Darwinian situation and we both understood that if push came to shove she would kick my a**. She was cunning and diabolical as well, and took great pleasure in both the planning and the execution of my a** kickings.

Cathy was an expert with a yo-yo and seemed always to have one twirling. It was a good indicator of mood: if she was Walking the Dog or Rocking the Baby I felt safe, if I heard the baleful snap! snap! of the yo-yo repeatedly hitting her hand, I knew to watch out for an out-of-control Around the World that would “accidentally” find the soft dip of my temple.

When I was about five, my front tooth became loose. I was lying on the top bunk, moving it around with my tongue, pushing it to the point of pain and then easing up. Cathy was below me on the bottom bunk throwing a tennis ball against the wall as hard as she could over and over again with her one good arm. The ball flew into my upper bunk and while retrieving it she noticed me moving my tooth.

“You won’t believe how much you can buy with front-tooth money,” she said nonchalantly, laying her traps.
“It’s not loose enough to come out today,” I replied.
“Sure it is. Just get a long piece of floss and tie one end around the tooth and the other end around the bedpost on the top bunk then jump off—it’ll be so quick you won’t even feel it.” She said this as dispassionately as someone explaining how to remove a wart with Compound W. Did I mention she was cunning?
“Really? Jump off the top bunk?” The act of jumping so far seemed more horrifying than the pulling of one’s own teeth, but Cathy jumped off most things just for the sake of jumping, which was why, at this particular moment, she had a cast running fingers to elbow.
“Sure, what’s the big deal?” she said casually as she rammed the hook of a wire hanger up the cast to scratch her wrist, “I do it all the time.”
There was a part of me that wanted to jump off things and ride horses bareback and hide out in tree forts well after dark. “Okay, but don’t rush me. I need to do it slow,” I said.
She shrugged, said, “I won’t even be in the room,” and wandered off, seemingly unconcerned with whether or not I’d do it. Did I mention diabolical?

Pulling out a few yards of floss, I tied one end around my tooth and the other end around the bedpost. After 15 minutes of psyching myself up, I mustered the courage to jump. I fell hard but the tooth was still intact; the floss was too long and never became taught enough to yank it out.

I stood there, still attached to the bedpost and relieved in some small way when Cathy burst into the room swinging her arm cast like a propeller. I turned to look just as she yelled, “HI-YAH” and karate chopped the floss with her swinging cast. My tooth went flying across the room and landed with a dainty “plink” in the heat vent. Surprised by the attack, my scream was delayed until the open socket started gushing blood.

This was not her first attempt at harm. There was also the time she nudged me out of a moving car on a mountain road.

We were in my parent’s old Corvair, before there was any sort of concern about child safety in cars. Though I was a toddler and my sister was a tot, on this particular Sunday drive up to the mountains, we were in no way strapped down. Cathy waited patiently until we had made it off paved streets and were on the rugged Bull Gap Road on the way up to the top of Mt. Ashland before pulling the trigger. Even at the tender age of four, her timing was impeccable—as we rounded an outside turn she reached across me, put her little fingers around the door handle and pulled. Like a cork out of champagne, I popped out the door, hit the dirt road, and rolled down a short bank.

To make herself feel better, my mother reminds me that it was fall and the ground was soft. Damages were minimal, though I am really bad at remembering phone numbers.

I still hate the sound of a yo-yo.


Heidi said...

Wow! This makes me feel so much better about my own sister!!!

In eighth grade I had to write my autobiography. I wrote the entire thing centered around how my sister tried to kill me my whole life. It didn't involve floss but it did involve several concussions, lots of stitches and a falling out of the car incidence.

I love your blog!

Christy Raedeke said...

Hey, thanks Heidi - I just checked out your blog and the feeling is mutual!

Do you still have your eighth-grade autobiography? I think that would make for a *hilarious* middle-grade novel.

If you blog about your sister's hits on your life, please come back and post the link here!

Cathy Gersich said...

Two words:

PurpleClover said...

Yes, my sister likes to tell me about my own false memory. ;) But I still remember poison potions that she filled with every cleanser, rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide in the cabinet and then informed me if I drank I would turn into a beautiful princess. sigh. At least boys just punch and hit...they aren't "cunning" or "diabolical"...well not most. Anyhow, my sister is polishing up a memoir for publishing and said she has a whole chapter devoted to this same subject - sisterly love!

Little Ms J said...

PurpleClover (my little sister) suggested I read your blog. Hysterical! While I may have been diabolical and a mad scientist (I was trying to turn her into either a princess or a monkey), she has a devastating punch. I always knew that whatever I did to her was going to come back to me in some form of pain. Ah... sisterly love.

Barb Slaton said...

I'm so glad that my sister was your MOM!

The worst thing she ever did to me was lock me out of the house (for hours and hours and hours). Then, magically, about 20 minutes before the 'rents returned from golfing I would be allowed to re-enter and bribed with brownies or date bars so I wouldn't tell.

To this day, I love cookie bars and I can still pee outside when I need to :)

Miles Inada said...

Man, I think our kids are too supervised to do this kind of stuff to each other anymore. Cyber-bullying is a poor substitute.

Hardygirl said...

My "cunning and diabolical" brother tied a piece of string to a doorknob and the other end to my tooth--a tooth that wasn't loose at all (we were trying to earn enough money to buy a gerbil).

Then he slammed the door as hard as he could. It took a couple of tries, and we had to shorten the string . . . but the tooth came out, gushing blood all over my favorite tshirt. Worst pain I've ever felt except for childbirth. But we did score enough cash to buy the gerbil.

And, I have my own yo-yo story. But, it's about me being mean so I should probably keep it to myself . . .

Katie said...

Okay - your blog has become my favorite form of entertainment. SF and I frequently say, "Dang...I wish Christy lived nearby."

Barb Slaton said...

Carol --

Do you still make date bars? Did you bribe your own kids with them?

Sherry said...

My sister just ignored me but my older brothers managed to educate me in the most interesting ways. When I was about 5 they said that if I'd put a chicken egg in my clothing drawer and keep it warm, it would hatch into a chicken! I kept one for about a month until my mom somehow discovered it - luckily before it "hatched." I think of Templeton in Charlotte's Web and the odor of his chicken egg treasure! When I was more like 13, my brothers would pay me to iron their pants. The usual fare was 15 cents and a cigarette! I got pretty good at blowing smoke rings. I have so much to thank them for!

Anonymous said...

OK, MY brother would sit on top of me and tickle me to "death", almost. I would get to the point where I couldn't breathe, and when there was no fight left in me, he would back off, leaving me gasping for breath and quivering on the floor.
Barb, sorry I locked you out, but your tantrums were such FUN! I guess siblings are designed to help us weather the worst tragedies in life.
Yes, I made date bars for years until Betty Crocker stopped making the mix (darn it!). Christy and Cathy were my tasters, and were very good at it.
Carol (Christy's mom)
P.S. Christy's childhood wasn't quite as bad as her imagination (I hope)!

Christy Raedeke said...

Oh my gawd! Just came back to look at yesterdays comments - hilarious stuff! Apparently one commonality in writers is having been tortured by siblings!

PurpleClover and Little Ms J, I feel like you are long-lost kin! I love both of your blogs and am glad you remain friendly with one another after so many attempts at harm.

Barb, you’re right, like putting a magnet on your computer, Mom’s date bars will erase any bad memory. Who knows how much more horror I’d remember from my childhood had date bars not been used on me. :)

SarahFrances, you’ve got a YA novel waiting to seep out – just write your childhood with your Barbie-mangling, tooth extracting brother! I’m curious, what did he grow up to be? My torturer, I mean sister, now shapes young minds by teaching at Middle School. If the parents only knew…

Katie – THANK YOU! You are too kind, and I wish I lived nearby too!

Sherry - I can totally see Janie torturing you by pretending you didn't exist. I love that your brothers paid you in cigarettes - hope lots of these stories come out at the family reunion in CO this summer.

And Mom - just keep telling yourself it's my "imagination" if it helps you sleep at night. Have another date bar.

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Kelly Hudgins said...

I never knew how much Juliet looked like you!

tonya said...

I would like to point out that all of these stories are about girls! I'm so glad I have boys. Boys just punch. Girls are sneaky. My mother tells of how her little brother caught her smoking and she and her cousin held him down and "made" him smoke till he puked.

Anonymous said...

And Tonya, should I remind you of then you tried to chop off my finger by slamming it in the neighbors door which was rimmed in metal siding? Throwing me out of a moving car would have been much nicer. Wendy

Graeme Stone said...

This isn't just a blog entry, it's fodder. All these great sibling torture stories. Sarah Francis had me laughing out loud about the tooth! Hilarious. Somehow it makes me think that all that torment is just buttering us up for the real fight we'll face in offices, jobs, school, and sports with kids we don't know so well.