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A crazy tale of sibling rivalry and why I still love my big brother, Doofus

Below is an excerpt from my 2018 book, “Not Quite Right: Mostly True Tales of a Weird News Reporter.” Click here to order a sale copy or email to order a signed copy. Click here to read the Kirkus Review. It’s a good one!

When no one was around to witness it, my big brother, Doofus, was actually pretty nice. He’d let me read his comic books or give me his extra “Crust Toothpaste” sticker that I needed for my Wacky Packages collection. Sometimes he’d even let me come in his room and look at the necklace of moose teeth our uncle gave him for his birthday, or his stuffed puffer fish and collection of porcupine quills. But it was hard to predict his moods. It was like dealing with a case of possession or a woman going through menopause (and I am totally allowed to joke about both of those at this point in my life): I wasn’t sure which brother might greet me, the relatively nice one, who would let me sit on his bed for the count of three before throwing me out, or the one who would give me The Treatment.

The Treatment was our own special form of torture, and I was as welcome to use it on Doofus as he was to use it on me except for one thing… I wasn’t strong enough to hold him down, which was the most important element of the torture.

Here’s how it worked: One of us, by which I mean Doofus, would pin the other one of us (me) to the floor on her back. Then the one of us who wasn’t pinned (Doofus) would kneel on his victim (me) and place his knees on her/my upper arms, effectively immobilizing her/me and preventing any retaliation. And then, this is the scary part so pay attention (but maybe don’t let your kids see it) … he would take a single index finger and slowly and methodically tap my manubrium with it. (So I may not have known it was called a manubrium back then and only figured out it wasn’t just known as “that flat part of your upper chest” when I decided to try to use the scientifically correct term while writing this. The good news is, I can pass my knowledge along to you and we are all better for it.)

 I can tell many of you are laughing at The Treatment out there in Readerland where, by the way, you are probably growing smug because you are reading this while safely ensconced in a blanket fort with the knowledge that your brother lives a hundred miles away. But I’m serious, y’all. The Treatment is nothing to laugh at. If you don’t believe me, have your significant other pin you to the floor, as described above, and perform what is basically the redneck version of Chinese Water Torture.

After a few minutes of being tap, tap, tapped while restrained, you will either be screaming for your mother to make it stop, or have a finger-tip-sized circular bruise on your manubrium.

And then there was an addendum to The Treatment that I’ll just call Your Worst Nightmare, Times A Gabillion. Jason Voorhees has nothing on this. It worked in basically the same way as the regular Treatment except instead of tapping you with a torturous finger, the attackee (Doofus) would unfurl a line of thick spittle that he carefully controlled by sucking it back into his mouth and then dropping it again right over the victim’s (MY) face! Then, he would let it drop again, coming dangerously close to my tightly pressed lips. And then there would come the time when he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, suck it back up. Shudder.

Yeah, my mom really hated that one and if she caught us, she was not happy. So now that you’re completely grossed out and think my brother was a demon spawn and I was an angel simply because I have purposely left out can’t recall any of my dastardly childhood deeds, I’ll tell you something that will make your heart go pitter-patter: My brother always stood up for me. In fact, anytime we were away from home, he wouldn’t let anybody beat me up but him. He was a giver that way and I’ve always loved him all the more for it.

Pitter. Patter.

Doofus and me, 1969

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