I’d say it was about 1986. I would have been 8. That’s when my brother did the most notoriously diabolic maneuver any sibling could ever afflict onto another sibling. And it was genius.
Every birthday our grandparents gave us money. As a kid that was the most exciting, hope filled feeling – getting to buy whatever you wanted! The possibilities were endless, mainly because when you’re 8 you really don’t really have any concept of money at all. Cabbage patch kid? Plastic microwave with a light bulb inside that cooked real brownies? Get-in-shape-girl leotard, matching leg warmers and glitter baton with a long flowing purple ribbon on it?…Man, I sure wish I kept all of those all these decades. They would be so hilarious to look at and probably worth millions on ebay. Instead I’m sure they were sold at a summer garage sale for 25cents.
Anyway that year my brother would have been 6. The perfect age to start thinking strategically and diabolically. Poor Ryan’s birthday was at the worst time of year. Mid-August was roasting hot but it was also the beginning of a new school year. So instead of diving into the glorious sparkling pool all day, we had to go shopping with our mom to buy new school clothes. V-neck sweater vests, wool skorts and tall socks – you know, cozy fall outfits that would be ridiculously too hot to wear for at least 2 months in Oklahoma. As a kid a back-to-school birthday was the pits. My birthday on other hand landed mid-May – when everyone was running through fields feeling schools-out-for-the-summer vibes! May is the best month to have a kid birthday. Nevertheless do not feel sorry for him one bit. After this devious conspiracy you’ll agree he deserved a yucky August birthday!
That year, among his Star Wars wrapped gifts, Ryan received a red envelope. Inside that red envelope was a really sweet card that I’m sure my Grandma lovingly selected just for him. Tossing it to the side unread he pulled cold hard cash out from inside. He waved it around gloating while he danced and jumped. He had a whopping eleven dollars! He could probably buy the whole Toys-R-Us for that much! No one knows!
It seemed like they were gone forever. My mom took Ryan to the Walmart for the big chance to spend his money on whatever toy he wanted (as long as it was less than $11). He was so lucky and I hated it.
After about an hour (which is 20 years in kid time) I heard the garage door rumble up. I sulked down deeper into the big living room chair and acted like I hadn’t even seen – and certainly did not care that Ryan bursted in skipping in delight, waving the white plastic bag in my face. I rolled my eyes.
“Jenny don’t you want to see what Ryan picked out” mom sang. Ugh. Sure whatever. I kept my eyes glued to the TV. He was always mom’s favorite. No fair.
I remember Ryan whipping the white plastic sack up in the air and then pulled out what was inside like a magician pulling out a magic rabbit. Mom standing closely behind him just as excited as he was. “Who cares” I thought. It’ll be a boy-something and was obviously dumb and boring. I watched the bag fly up and back in his hand. In his other hand lay the most beautiful box. Hot pink with shiny stars and lots of silver glitter all over it. Across the plastic window that took up most of the front of the box shot the neon words “Barbie and the Rockers”. OMG
Barbie and the Rockers were so cool. You see Barbie and her BFFs all formed a punk rock band, dyed their hair pink and wore over-the-knee plastic stiletto boots. Skipper and cousin Midge played the guitar and drums on the background cardboard set printed behind. Barbie of course held onto the shiny silver microphone – belting out the coolest tunes ever. I knew so because inside the box along with the punk rock Barbie was a white cassettet tape that when inserted into my Boom Box, played an audio of the band performing those 4 epic Barbie and the Rockers songs. So so so cool…
So I know you’re confused, thinking I was a rotten non-grateful child but no. Ryan’s face lite up as he presented the box to me. “He spent all of his $11 on a gift for his sister” my mom beamed. Ryan’s face was beaming too but in a Grinch Who Stole Christmas kind of way with one eyebrow up high and his nose all scrunched up. Kindof like he was growling. Standing behind him, mom of course saw none of that. He just looked me in the eyes and sneered. I didn’t care. Weirded out or not I ran off with the box before he could change his mind and slammed my bedroom door so I could rip into the box right away. Why did he do that though? The only thing Ryan ever did with my Barbies was cut their hair or pull their leggings upside down over their heads making them “bunnies”. He hated Barbies and he certainly didn’t intentionally do anything just to make me happy.
A few days later mom assigned chores vacuuming the floor and taking out the trash before we could go outside to play. Seriously child labor. Since she hadn’t specified which child had to do which chore I quickly grabbed a bag of trash knowing that was the easier of the two. When I came back inside from taking the trash out, there stood Ryan with that Grinch smile again. “See ya!” I quipped over my shoulder as I ran towards the back door ready for a full day of exploring with my friends. “Wait” he said folding his arms slowely. “I think you need to do both chores because, well you OWE me.”
There is was. For the next several years (and every once in awhile to this very day) Ryan pulled the “You OWE me” sad face out whenever he wanted a favor, a first turn or the remote control. It worked every time. Not with me, mind you but with mom. She was eternally so proud of him for sacrificing ALL of his money to buy the one toy I most wanted in the world.
Genius. Standing there in Walmart at the young age of 6 he had devised the whole plan. He would do one good act and would then be able to hang it over my head over and over and over again. In the long run, he would win.
So kids, the lesson here is clear. If your brother or sister ever choose on their own accord to sacrifice something to give you a gift – do not take it. Don’t fall for the trick. Or better yet take it, go back to Walmart and exchange it for a transformer or baseball card he likes. Then YOU’D be the genius who “honorably” sacrificed the “one toy you ever loved” graciously handing it to that sibling “just to make him smile”. Que the halo-over-the-head.
30 years later guess what I just found on the ebay antique toys section? Good thing Christmas is coming up.