Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Swimming Trunks

When I was a young child I became used to having my older brothers drop in and then out of my life without warning or notification.  After all, they were twelve and thirteen years older than I was. There was not much we had in common when I was a kid.  Our interactions only lasted until the next new adventure entered their lives.  Army, college, marriage and professional careers all interrupted any continuity I may have wanted or expected.  But being a military brat, I had become used to inconsistency in the flow of my life. So, their erratic presence in my life was nothing I took note of.  They were just here one day and then gone the next.

When I was nine or ten, D was living with us on San Rafael Street in Tampa, Florida.  I cannot remember whether he had just gotten out of the Army or was about to enter the Army.  Regardless, he lived with us for a period.  At that point in my life he was twenty one or two.

D was not quite just another adult in my life.  He was something in between someone I had to listen to and someone I didn't.  Or so I thought at the time.  As soon as he showed back up in my life, I jealously and selfishly thought I should be the main focus of his attention.  My view was there was so much to do together, we had better get started.

I heard he was talking about scuba diving with friends in the clear waters of limestone caves scattered around the state. Of course I wanted to be included.  But I wasn't.  Not once.  Not ever.

In my mind, I was being punished for some reason.  There was no good reason to keep me from coming along.  I was an excellent swimmer who loved the water. Excluding me was just mean and I was not going to put up with it. 

It never occurred to me that besides being a pain in the ass little brother, cave diving was dangerous and he knew damn well Mom and Dad would never let him do it.  To his credit, he did try to tell me all this and more.  I heard what I wanted to hear. It was punishment, pure and simple.

I watched him leave for his various dives and plotted my revenge.  He would be sorry he did not let me go with him. Yeah, I was going show him. But how does a nine year old get payback on an adult without serious repercussions?  As it turned out, they don't. 

 One night I heard D on the phone making new plans with whoever it was he dove with.  By that time I had come up with what I was sure a fool proof plan. I was going to hide his swimming trunks. So, I stashed them in my room out of sight. He would not get them back unless he let me come along. That would show him. 

Yeah, right.

What happened the next morning is why I remember this incident so clearly.

The next morning D was frantically looking everywhere for his swim trunks.  He was fired up and getting angrier by the minute.  Mom was telling him to calm down, we would find the trunks.

Twenty minutes or so later of fruitless search and D is ready to scream. I sat on my bed, ostensibly minding my own business but beginning to realize I may have over played my hand.  D was really pissed he could not find his swim trunks.  So of course, I kept my mouth shut, now more afraid than vindictive.

It was the second or third time he asked me if I was sure I had not seen his trunks, when I caved and came clean. The look in his eye at that revelation told me if I had been anywhere close to his size, I would have probably been beaten senseless.  Never saw even tempered D as a scary human to that point. I produced the swim trunks, and with a disgusted last look in my direction, he headed out to meet the people he would go diving with.

Since a parent was involved in the search, this dust up with my brother fell under parental interest.  From my mom's demeanor, I knew to expect incarceration in my cell until suitable punishment had been deliberated. Since Dad was at work, any final decision would have to wait until he got home. So I cooled my heels in my room.

I heard dad drive up.  I opened my door a crack and listened to my parents as they conversed in the kitchen.  Too many walls turned their conversation into gibberish accented by laughter and then silence. In a few minutes, my dad appeared at my door. His face gave away nothing, but when he spoke, I knew I had screwed up.  He listed all the reasons I could not possibly have gone with D and all the reasons they were angry at what I did. And then he surprised me.  He told me I had been punished enough and I was free to go.

Mom came to the door and looked in at me in my sad sack state and then looked at Dad.  When their eyes met, they both busted out laughing.  Each time they looked at me, they laughed harder.

Go figure  .........................................


The Blog Fodder said...

Hard to punish a kid when all you want to do is laugh.

PipeTobacco said...

Hah! I was told in adulthood of quite a number of punishments I received that were difficult for my parents to administer because they thought it funny how foolish some of my reasoning was!


MRMacrum said...

Blog Fodder - Indeed it is hard to come down hard on a kid when you can't stop laughing.

Pipe Tobacco - Yet when we are kids the logic of our foolishness is inescapable. I remember shaking my head many times at how stupid adults were.