Posts Tagged ‘Dick Dastardly’

My brother disappeared from my life very early because he was adopted by my grandfather, so I have very few memories of him as a young boy. But sometimes while I eat my morning corn flakes, I imagine him sitting across the table studying his cereal box with a serious adult expression, penciling a line through the maze or cutting out an order form for the Goofy Grape Kool-Aid cup. He was always the scientist and the wise guy, no matter how ridiculous he appeared at the time.

I can see him now with his little felt cowboy hat and the red string under his chin pulled tight with a brown bead. His skin was the color of oatmeal and small freckles dotted his nose and cheeks. His brown hair was always just a bit too short and his cowlick looked like a paintbrush stroke over his right eyebrow. He tied a red bandana around his neck and chased me around firing his silver cap gun because he knew I despised loud noises.

He chewed Bazooka bubble gum and once in awhile gave me a piece, as long as I gave him back the comic because he was collecting them along with Cracker Jack prizes. My brother watched Batman in the evenings and savored superhero comics. His favorite character was Penguin, the aristocratic crook with flashy clothes.

My brother kept boxes full of creepy comic books like “Tales from the Crypt” and whenever I sneaked into his room and opened one of them, it didn’t take long for me to run back to my own room with my friendly Disney toys. (Of course I abused them when I was mad at my brother and wanted someone smaller to kick around.)

On Saturday’s we watched Rocky and Bullwinkle and Underdog and the Wacky Races. I imagined that I was Penelope Pitstop and my brother was Dick Dastardly, especially when he would say “Drat, drat, double drat.” In Underdog he was Sinister Simon. Of course I was Polly, but Underdog never showed up to rescue me.

I worked hard at school to get good grades, but my brother always came home with perfect report cards, straight A’s to be exact. Jealous and confused, I often wondered if you had to be wicked to be smart. That seemed to be the formula for the cartoon villains he admired, so I resigned to the fact that I could never be that smart.

I remember when he got his first job as a paperboy. I can still see him at the table, putting the rolled up newspapers into his canvas bag, and strolling out to jump onto his red bike and riding away. I felt jealous of him at times like these, and even more so when he returned and sat at the table, counting his coins in little round columns and then putting them into his cigar box. He was the only one with money, and sometimes he would walk with me and our little sister to Burger King. We would wear our cardboard crowns as we drank Orange Crush and ate cheeseburgers with mustard and no pickles and plenty of French fries.

But mostly my brother loved to terrify me, his stormy little sister who was already scared of everything. I was the perfect victim for his wicked games unlike my quiet fearless little sister, and he knew this too well. He would chew the warts on his fingers until they bled, light candles and pass his hands through the flame, set off noisy firecrackers- and he told horrific ghost stories. I always asked him to tuck me in to bed since our parents were away, but instead he told me frightful tales he heard over the campfire during Cub Scouts. Blue-eyed Bloody Bones was his favorite, and I would cry when he would wail with a quivery voice “Blue-eyed bloody bones gonna eat you up.” I would scream and beg him to stop and he would laugh and laugh.

His laughter was always odd, because it seemed to emerge from a frown instead of a smile like most people. The sound of his laugh was smooth and gentle, but his top lip would curl back over his small teeth, and the lower lip would contort like the lips of Gumby as if they weren’t sure what to do. His left eye would narrow and his right eye would roll upward like a milky glass marble towards his forehead. I never could figure out if he felt happy or sad, because his face never really told the story.

On Sundays, I would awaken to the sound of the TV in the living room. I would find my brother sitting in his footy pajamas on the cold wooden floor with his cereal bowl and spoon, watching the Lone Ranger or the singing cowboy. I could sense his loneliness at moments like these, because no one seemed to fit into his world. No Tonto or Silver or fair damsels. Only his mask.

Amid all of the confusion of our childhood, I think he discovered his super powers but lost his identity. I am still looking for his face behind the disguises.

It was hard for him trying to be a man at the age of ten in a house with no parents. I don’t know how he endured the pressure at such a young age. I couldn’t see it then, but I can see it now. He wanted to protect me, but he was trying to enjoy being a kid too. It was a terrible juggling act and I think he felt inadequate for the task.

Although I missed him when he left and never got to know him after he came of age, I am pleased that my grandfather offered him a secure world where he could relax and play for awhile.

Film poster for The Legend of the Lone Ranger

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: