Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nothing can kill the Grimace: Tales of a clumsy younger brother

It was probably my fault; I was the one who taught him.

I took pride in the fact that after some initial work from my parents, I was able to teach my younger brother, Josh, how to ride a bike. I thought I'd done a good job, but there were a few things that made me wonder.

Clyde Crashcup strikes

One day, not too long after I taught him, Josh was riding near the house. While pedaling happily along the road, he managed to hit a pebble the size of a bit of gravel; the kind that makes an annoying scraping sound on the ground when it gets stuck in the treads of your sneakers.

This little pebble caused him to twist up his handlebars and flip over them, landing on his chin. Back to the house he went, dripping a little trail of blood. I had to collect his bike.

My mom saw him, and it was off to the emergency room. The doctor sewed him up with a few stitches and he was as good as new. Except for the giant fat lip (which, strangely, has never gone back down) and the divot on his chin, that is.

The Race

One neat thing about our neighborhood was that the streets were separated from most of the real traffic outside the mobile home park. Obviously, people had to drive in to get home, but for the most part, the streets were pretty quiet. This allowed us to ride our bikes around without having to dodge traffic.

My brother, his friend and I were on the other side of the park with our bikes when we got an idea.

"Hey, we should have a race!"

I was all for it; as the oldest, I was the most likely to win.

We lined up our bikes, with me on the outside, Josh's friend David in the middle, and Josh nearest the curb. We'd barely begun when I saw Josh teetering away from us, being drawn to the curb like a moth to a lightbulb. If he didn't aim left, he'd --


Since the curbs were the flat kind that taper into the street, Josh went right into a driveway that was occupied by a large pickup truck.

I was a little confused. I heard the crash, I saw the dent in the side of the truck and the bits of plastic from the shattered turn signal light, but Josh's bike was still out in the street.

Josh was trying to get up, and he was holding his head. That's when I figured it out. He'd busted up some guy's truck with his head. Before I could wrap my own head around that, a door opened and a guy walked out. He looked briefly at his truck and then at Josh.

"Hey, are you okay?" He looked to me. "What happened?"

"He ran into the truck with his head."

"His head?"

The guy helped us cart Josh back home. He knocked on our front door. My dad answered.

"This your boy?" the guy asked.

My dad looked down at Josh, who was holding his head and sniffling. The guy didn't even ask my parents to fix the truck as far as I remember. He was just worried that Josh was hurt. I knew he was okay because he'd only hit his head.

My parents didn't think that was funny. Neither did Josh.

For the next decade, Josh seemed to always be tripping or falling over something. Sure, sometimes I'd give him a little help (what are big brothers for, right?), but he seemed to do all right on his own. And boy, was he resilient. It was like having a stuntman for a little brother.

What's up?

We were trick-or-treating one year, and I'd just come down a flight of stairs after getting my candy. Josh was starting his way down when one of his friends saw him.

"Hey Josh, what's up?"

Josh missed a step and tumbled down the stairs.

My first reaction (and I'm not entirely proud, mind you): "Not him."

After a quick stop at home to get all Bactined up, Josh was back on the road ready for more candy. That, I should mention, was the second bad spill he'd taken that day.

See? Unstoppable.

I felt a little bad for laughing so hard at him, you can't see the Grim Reaper take a header down a flight of stairs and not laugh.

Pointing may not have been necessary, though.

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