Product of our Environments: A story.

I’ve said this before. We are all products of our own environments. Sometimes they are environments that we don’t have a lot of say in – like when you’re growing up with your family, for example. Or our work environment, or that of the similar. Then there are environments that we are easily able to control. Like, if you live in a house alone with fifty cats and come running out on the yawn wielding a golf club to scare off the neighborhood kids.

I started thinking about my little brother last night. I called him to check in, see how he was doing, and to see how much he liked Paris. He was there for a job, doing something about building things for airplanes, I’m not really sure – I don’t pay that much attention. Or, it may be that I’m not really sure if he has explained it full. Either way – he could be building Barbie Dolls and I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of the difference. In much regard, I now feel like my mother who half ass pays attention to what I do. I think I’ll call him to really have him explain what he does.

Anyway, he didn’t answer, and while I stood in front of the dryer folding clothes I started thinking about my little brother and our lives together. We were never super close, and we never had overlapping friends since he and I are almost five years apart, but when we were little I realized how undeniably evil I was to him.

It started making sense. I’m the environment that produced my little hellion of a brother. I’m not alone, mind you, in the molding of my brother – my Dad played a heavy hand in the creation of the smart ass that is my little brother. (Re: Easter Bunny)

Have you ever remembered doing something from your past that, at the time didn’t bother you that much, but now the slightest hint of the memory leaves your gut churning? Ultimately, you end up feeling like the biggest douche bag in the world? Here’s my story, and you may think me an en evil crap-tard afterwards, it’s permitted.

We had just moved into our new house that my parents currently live in. I was in sixth grade, so that would make my brother in 3rd. Our birthdays made the school years wonky.

My parents had acquired a craptastic pool table from who knows where. My Dad had intentions of “restoring it” and, trust me, it needed it. If you shot the Que ball from the top left side of the table you could count on scratching as the table sloped towards the back corner pocket. It was amazingly awful, but provided entertainment to myself, my brother, my cousin and our friends.

There was one day in particular that my cousin and I were trying our hand at being bad-asses and decided to place a bet on “A Game.” Typical bets between he and I were “you have to be my slave for a month.” Usually, this resulted in an afternoon of having to do stupid crap like bring the other person sodas and make them sandwiches. And, it never lasted for more than a day. I don’t really recall what the exact bet was, but I’m sure it’s something along these lines.

My little brother was left out.

He wanted to play, but Sean (Le Cousin) and I wouldn’t let him. So, he started being the typical annoying little brother and, when I took a shot he reached onto the table and picked up the ball that I had been aiming at.

Death. Must. Occur.

So, as a typical, overreacting pre-teenage girl, who had likely bet an eternity of servitude to her cousin, I reacted rather impulsively. As my little brother ran away from the table with the solid pool ball in hand he started yelling because he knew what he had done. He knew that he was going to pay. I took off after him. I ran after him with the pool stick in my hand. I quickly caught up to him. Honestly, this is the last time I remember being able to beat him up.

I reared back with the pool stick and swung, with every bit of softball swing I had been taught, and listened as the pool stick cracked, and the wind whooshed as it hit solidly across his teeny little butt.

(Here is the part when thinking back about it that I feel like an evil monster. He was just a kid. Then again, so was I.)

He bellowed out in pain and fell helplessly to his knees with both hands grasping his little butt through his blue jeans. I was a monster. This may be the only time I really recall hurting my brother so severely. I also knew that I was about to be in deep, deep trouble.

As his lungs screamed out the pain and the tears flowed effortlessly down his face, I dropped the pool stick from my hands and rushed over to console him. In part because, even then, I felt like crap for what I did, and more importantly, I didn’t want to be in trouble with my parents. I tried to convince him that he was okay and that he should stop crying, but looking back, I know how bad that had to have hurt.

After about a two minutes of crying and writhing in pain, he was finally able to stand up. This is when all hell broke loose. He ran, unexpectedly to me, as fast as he could towards the basement stairs like a jackrabbit. Up the stairs, through the door, screaming out what I had done while desperately searching for my parents.

I hid. Like a coward, I hid. I ran out the backdoor of the basement and into the woods behind the house. Impending death was sure to come for what I had done. I feared the wrath of my Dad who was bound to talk to me in the “you’re about to suffer for all eternity” voice. It’s terrifying. My Dad has only done that to me three times in my entire life. He yells at you without moving his mouth because he’s gritting his teeth so hard – it’s absolutely terrifying. I didn’t want to see that – it’s scary.

So I ran through the woods like a coward. Like a prisoner on jailbreak. Like an escapee from a mental institution. I ran all the way up to the high school that was at the other end of the woods, and up to the baseball field where I sat in the dugout, alone, for what felt like hours. In truth, the field wasn’t very far from my house – the only thing separating my house and the school was the woods. Every sporting events that required lights kept me from sleeping until they turned off around midnight.

I had to come back, though. It was getting dark, and it was Christmas break so there wasn’t anything going on at the school. I walked slowly back through the woods and came to my backyard. I crept in the backyard, and into the door from the porch and entered the living room where my little brother was sitting on the couch, enjoying some ice-cream with my cousin and watching a movie.

My parents, thankfully, weren’t anywhere around.

I asked my little brother how he was doing and he jovially responded with, “I’m okay, Sammie!” I came over to the couch, sat down next to him, and put my head on top of his head and gave him a huge hug. I felt awful. (I still feel awful to this day!) He forgave me, so quickly, that looking back I’m grateful for how awesome he was, and how awesome he still is. We watched movies for the rest of the afternoon, while he sat on an ice-pack. I think my parents knew how bad I felt, so they never yelled at me for it. In my own way, I punished myself.

He had a line across his bum for nearly two weeks that turned all shades of blues, purples and greens. He liked to show me. In part, to make me feel bad, and because he was very impressed with his “battle wounds.”

As for the pool table? It was out of commission for its intended use. It was never restored. Instead, it became a wax filled table that my best friend Holly and I used to light candles on and pretend like we could see ghosts.

Nick, if you’re reading this, I love you little man. You are the best little brother, ever.

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