letter B:  Brothers

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply; and it must be by a long and unnatural estrangement, if such precious remains of the earliest attachment are ever outlived. Jane Austen
“Some means of enjoyment” for my brothers, JD, Benny, and me usually put my life, or at least my well-being at risk.”  It often involved throwing something (maybe, corn cobs) at something (sometimes me). They taught me how to play softball. The only rule was I had to catch the ball no matter how hard they threw it, AND I couldn’t cry no matter how much it hurt. Rotten watermelon fights usually found me drenched a stinky, sticky mess, with platinum hair stuck into 3 or 4 giant strands. Jumping into the rice canal water took every ounce of courage I possessed.  It was freezing cold and sometimes took my breath away. Literally.  I was never in the cave they dug in the sandy soil behind our house. I don’t remember if they wouldn’t let me, or my survival instincts had grown keen by then- but Dad found out, and that was the end of the sand cave. We picked cotton together-they always outpicked me. I smoked my first cigar with them-I think I was probably 7, and have no idea how we came by the stogies. Thought, and wished I would die-the puking prepared me for morning sickness, and I still have a finicky gag response.  One of our more deadly pursuits involved a shot glass, again have no notion how or why we had a shot glass, filled with salt and as little water as needed to get it down. JD and I played at it, but Benny was determined to have the most salt and the least amount of water. I am pretty sure what happened next was the kind of thing that we really, really should have told Mom, but we swore an oath.  Mom must never know that we think Benny had a seizure-I do know we never did THAT again. “Some means of enjoyment” sometimes meant sitting on the screened in porch listening to the baseball game on a little radio we had dragged out a window. Sometimes it meant going out after dark and chasing fireflies.  Sometimes it meant sitting in an apple tree with a salt shaker eating green apples. Sometimes it meant I got to go “for a ride” when they got their driver’s license. So, yes it is true, no subsequent connection has been quite the same. Or as dangerous.