was one time when I had seen my brother Nick's temper.
He's generally a very easy-going guy, especially
as a child. I had seen lots of emotions before:
excited, taunting, teasing, razzing, trying to get
me to laugh in church, antagonizing, goading, scaring,
sharing, giggling, scoffing, tickling, causing me
to laugh like a girl, teaching, commanding, lording,
bribing, whispering, belching, doctoring, cajoling,
interfering, smearing my glasses, and many others.
I had rarely seen anger from my brother, at least
directed at me. We had bickered many times and had
run-of-the-mill disagreements, but usually the anger
in the house was reserved for one person at any
one time. This person was generally Speaker of the
House, as it were, at least in all things said or
done in anger. Most of the time, this was my father,
but if he wasn't around, my mother got to be upset
with us. Very few times were we able to get really
angry by ourselves.
think it was near my brother's very first time in
high school as a freshman that I first experienced
my brother's anger because this was probably the
first time he babysat for us. I use that term with
everything implied, because my sister Gina and I
were in 5th and 8th grade, respectively. Gina and
I were just plain goofing around. As my brother
was in high school, what he was doing was more important
than what we were doing, which was homework and
studying. We had already finished ours, my parents
were out and it was hours before bedtime.
had discovered a new game, which was Talking in
a Silly Voice. For some reason, Gina and I had adopted
this way of speaking that involved talking in a
high-pitched voice, speaking as if a very slow,
but sweet child who would ask the dumbest questions
imaginable. The idea was to say something so inanely
stupid in this somewhat ditsy voice and make the
other person laugh. We were so simple to entertain.
problem was that between the laughter and the high-pitched
voices, things could get really loud. My brother
was upstairs trying to finish his homework and we
were downstairs in the kitchen apparently yelling
at each other and laughing. It must have been maddening!
between yelling each other's names and snorting
out more laughter, I could hear my brother yelling
for us at the top of the stairs. He yelled for us
to "Pipe Down!" I think, which would have
been a reasonable request for anyone to understand
when you're studying for Algebra or Spanish or some
other class. We should have just turned on the TV
or played a game.
we proceeded to repeat what he had said to us, in
that voice. "Pipe Down!" we repeated and
collapsed in giggles. To our defense, we did try
to keep it down after that. But the hilarity of
it was too great and our voices rose in volume after
a few moments. We kept laughing louder and more
frequently, eventually not hearing what came next
until it was too late.
by us, but raising in volume also, was the sound
of my brother's hurried footsteps down the stairs.
My brother had a tendency to run down the stairs
at such a high speed and in such a hurry that it
sounded like he had left the ground entirely and
was simply pounding on each step quickly and ferociously
on the way down. Bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-BUB! BUB!!
it would sound after each descent and he'd be turning
the corner into the dining room and directly into
the kitchen. He dismounted those stairs after each
landing, turning it into a test or a sporting event.
Most of the time he would get yelled at for doing
this time, those footsteps were at first masked
by our own laughter, but to my brother's ears, it
must have sounded like the drums of some rushing
approaching army, weapons drawn and about to shrike!
Bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-bub-BUB! BUB!! we heard and
at the last few steps we heard it sounding above
our laughter and we turned our heads still open-mouthed
in mirth, still laughing as loud as possible as
my brother ran into the kitchen.
was beet red and screamed at both of us. "Will
You Two Please Keep It Down?!!" he roared.
"I'm Trying To Finish My Homework!"
were still in high spirits after so much laughter
and frankly we were also surprised. We had never
seen him so angry, or frankly so upset with us.
Besides being furious with us, he was out of breath,
his hair was messed up (probably from pulling it
out of frustration) and his shirt was half tucked
in. This much anger in my Dad would have kept us
quiet and turned our blood to ice in our veins;
from my brother the same anger was unexpected and
had come out of nowhere. The same look my Dad had
when angry was in my brother's eyes and it was a
sight I briefly marveled in as I finally saw it.
It was hysterical.
laughter erupted anew as we pointed and laughed.
Nick's really steamed! This never happens. Usually
he gets on our nerves and we end up crying!
of course made him that much angrier! "What
the heck is the matter with you two? What are you
yelling at each other about?"
admitted to ourselves that we probably weren't improving
our minds any. We could be watching cartoons or
game shows on the TV right now instead of antagonizing
Nick! We're just talking in goofy voices. Sorry
we were bothering you!"
me, he must have thought. Try pointless activity!
Why do I have to be the oldest brother of these
two idiots who persist in disturbing my study where
I have to hear them! "Well Stop!" he bellowed.
a moment! we frowned. Who gave Nick the authority
to rule the house (right now we were not clear on
the newness that he was actually in charge). "Hey,
this is our house, too!" Gina protested. "We're
not doing it upstairs!"
but I can hear it upstairs! So go do something quiet!
I'm doing homework and I need my concentration!"
did ours," I mumbled barely under my breath.
you're going to go to high school next year and
you'll see how much homework you get!"
was right and I knew it but I was in 8th grade now
and having a great year at school. I kind of liked
being in the graduating class. So I didn't really
see the point of listening to my brother. Then he
said the magic words: "Just keep it down or
you are going to be in big trouble when Mom and
Dad get home!"
guess it finally dawned on us at that phrase "when
Mom and Dad get home" that Nick was in charge
and we carefully stopped laughing, apologized between
snorts and ran into the other room so that we could
continue to laugh and not get Nick any more upset.
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