Nothing peculiar about the day. Mom and Dad went to work. My brother and I stayed home. We had unwritten and unspoken understandings kindled by the fear of the belt. Of course, we were still kids, so we had our differences.
We were never really a ‘sit down at the dining room table for dinner’ type of family. I can only remember one time that wasn’t a holiday. It was a weekday…..(insert flashback music here)
“Will you two just behave?” my father asked less than patiently.
I tried to keep quiet. I tried to keep my cool and be the older, wiser sibling, but what do you really want from a 10 year old?
“But he jabbed me with his fork!” I cried.
The glare I received told me that there would be no more discussion on the matter. I slouched back in my chair and gave up. Better to eat my dinner and be able to sit down than to make my point and have a sore bottom. Don’t talk back was always rule number one.
I used to really put away the food when I was little. It’s amazing that I’m the size I am instead of 2 or 3 of me. As I dug into my plate, I realized that ketchup would make everything better. It was, after all, my favorite condiment. I got up from the table to retrieve my red savior. Unfortunately, my brother decided that it would be the perfect time to continue pestering me.
I tried. I tried as hard as a 10 year old can try to ignore the squealing that was my brother. It was incessant. he wouldn’t stop. He followed me to the fridge. He kept at it. Would. Not. Stop.
Sidebar: If you’ve ever played the game Killer Instinct, I compare myself to Timberwolf. He takes it and takes it and takes it until he just snaps and goes nuts on someone.
I stood at the door to the fridge trying to keep my composure. I was an uptight child. But he got to me. I don’t remember now what he did or said to push me into KI mode, but without thinking, I grabbed the ketchup bottle (it was plastic) and swung it at the closest thing, which happened to be my brother’s head.
Ketchup everywhere. The walls, the ceiling, the floor, my brother’s face, my shirt. And then the real squealing began. To this day, I don’t know if he was in pain, shock, or taking the Academy Award for Best Youth Actor in a Kitchen Drama, but he started screaming like I had lopped off his hand. My father’s immediate reaction was one of “girl I’m going to kill you” until he realized that my brother wasn’t in fact bleeding, just covered in ketchup. Upon this realization, he promptly ordered us to clean up the mess that we had made and then retire to our rooms. I’m sure there was punishment, but that part is never as fun as smacking your kid brother with a ketchup bottle.
I reminisce about that moment every time I pick up the ketchup. 🙂