Following is something I wrote for AL.com in my second month of work there in 2012. The assignment was to write about our favorite childhood Christmas gift, or what we considered to be our Red Rider BB Gun. Actually, my over-sized Raggedy Ann and Andy were my favorites but the memory below was near the top.
I think it was Christmas of 1973 when my brother Doofus and I got the Miami Dolphins jerseys: For me, No. 21, and for Doofus, No. 39.
As an 8-year-old girl, I didn’t realize the man whose name –“Kiick” – was on the back of my jersey was part of a legendary duo that was part of a legendary NFL team in its legendary undefeated season.
I knew only that – other than the different number and strange name “Csonka” on the back of my brother’s jersey — they were identical in their aqua-and-orange glory. I wanted to be just like my two-years’-older brother and often dressed like him. Although my mother managed to force me into dresses on holidays, my typical outfit was a pair of hand-me-down Sears Toughskins jeans and a T-shirt.
For many years, I was the only girl living on our street and, if I wanted to play, I played with the boys. Barbie dolls were OK, but I preferred building forts and playing football. I’m sure it annoyed my brother to have me always tagging along and I remember he frequently made me cry. But he wasn’t about to let anyone else do it. If the other boys teased me, Doofus was quick to step in and threaten to make them cry.
Now that our parents are gone, Doofus and I enjoy reminiscing about those carefree days when we didn’t come home until the lightning bugs began flickering and we could hear Mom calling from the front porch that supper was getting cold.
Doofus doesn’t make me cry anymore. But to this day, if anyone else tries to hurt me, he’s still the first to intervene.