The Yellow Box
Brothers -- I had two. They were as different as salt and pepper. No they were not black and white, but in flavor they were distinctively unique. The room they shared illustrates their differences. One side was very neat. The bed was made neatly. All the clothes were picked up and hung in the closet or folded perfectly in his dresser drawers. This side belonged to my brother Dan. Dan was eighteen months younger than me and eighteen months older than our youngest brother. He was a perfectionist from birth and would go bonkers when things were out of place. That is why sharing a room with his younger brother was pure torture for him. On the other side of the room was an unmade bed, covers tossed on the floor. Dirty clothes lay everywhere. Books and a half filled glass of kool-aid and partially eaten ketchup sandwich covered the bed stand. This side was my brother David’s.
At one end of their bedroom was a large four drawer dresser. The top two drawers were Dan’s and the bottom two belonged to David. A peek inside their drawers revealed the same differences. Everything in Dan’s was perfectly folded and categorized. David’s on the other hand were partially bare, because most of his clothes were on the floor or under his bed, unless I had just finished washing and had replenished them.
Their personalities and temperament were also at opposite poles. Both were middle children. Middle children either learn to negotiate well or become the “lost child” who can never find their place. Dan had learned to be a great negotiator. He was industrious and at times a clown depending on the need. He was popular and was very in tune to the latest fads. Overall he was pleasant to be around unless you pissed him off. He had quite a temper. A temper that would not leave, until pay back had been accomplished. He was patient in his revenge. He could wait weeks to
get you back. He’d wait so long that you would have to ask him “Why did you do that?” and he with great satisfaction would reply, “You remember when,,,?”
David, on the other hand, was a tease, but he didn't know how to stop, so would irritate people. He was also passive aggressive. As the “lost child” his response to anger was to shrug you off, ignore you and go about his merry way. He hated to be “nagged” and the more you did, the more he would continue what ever behavior you were addressing. Of course he did this while smiling and displaying his cute dimples.
With these two personalities in mind I shall continue my story.
When Dan was in high school he was still small for his age. He eventually grew to over six feet, but at the time of my story he was short and skinny. This really bothered him, because all the popular kids were on the football team, which he tried out for, but was too small in size and weight. He was not, however, small in spirit. He had read the Atlas Body Building ads that were run in all the comic books of our time. He sent off for this course and someone gave him a set of weights. He was determined. True to his nature, he kept these weights neatly in a homemade yellow box that he kept by the side of the dresser. Dan was somewhat possessive about his stuff and threatened to kill anyone who went in that box or touched his weights.
One evening as I was preparing to cook dinner, Dan came stomping furiously into the kitchen fists clenched and red-faced yelling, “He put a snake in my yellow box. You had better make him get it out of there, or I am going to kill him”. “What!” I exclaimed. “Show me.” I did not want to believe this. We snuck upon the yellow box in terror. Dan slowly lifted the lid a crack. I was expecting a large rattlesnake to strike us, but instead I quickly glanced at a garden snake before Dan shut the lid to prevent its escape. Now I was mad. I hated snakes. “Damn that David!” I exclaimed.
David had not yet come home from his after school activities. I returned to the kitchen. As I pulled out the flour to bread the pork chops I was going to cook for dinner, I was trying to figure out how best to handle this situation. I knew Dan was going to seriously hurt David, if he didn't get that snake out fast. Yet, I knew if I asked David more than once, he would consider it nagging and wouldn’t do anything. About this time David comes bouncing into the kitchen with his dimpled little smile. As calmly as I could, I said. “David, Dan says if you don’t get that snake out of his yellow box he is going to kill you!” David’s comeback was, “I can’t. I don’t have anyplace to keep it.” My response was “Well, you’ll have to let it go then. You can’t keep it in the house.” David did his little shrug thing. A sign that he was going to blow me off. Now I was pissed off and started yelling, “If you don’t get that snake out of this house NOW, I am going to kill you.” He looked at me surprised that I had turned into Dan and he was outnumbered and replied simply, ”Fine”.
With that he turned and headed to his room. I set the cast iron skillet on a hot burner to meld the grease for the pork chops. As I was continued flouring the chops, I saw David with the snake around his arm walking down the hall to the front door. His jaw was set in anger. I breathed a sigh of relief.
A few minutes passed and as I lifted the first chop to drop in the frying pan, David startled me. He was standing directly behind me and when I looked back to see him, he dropped his dead garden snake into my skillet. I screamed and he laughed hysterically. With a twinkle in his eye, he said. “If I can’t keep it, I’ll just eat it.” I was beside myself. I knew he was punishing me for siding with Dan. He knew I would feel badly about the poor snake sizzling in my frying pan. He had won! No, I couldn’t let him win. I screamed at him, “You are going to eat it!. You won’t get any dinner until you do.” As usual, he just shrugged, “I will!”.
and stormed out of the kitchen.
I fried his snake until it was a nice golden brown and put it on a plate while I cleaned out the pan and finished the pork chops. When dinner was complete I called everyone to the table. I served up the plates and set them before my brother Dan and my sister, Lexie. Our mother was seldom home at dinner time as she worked. To David, I served his snake. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy, including David. “You said you would eat that snake, now eat it” I snarled at him as Lexie gagged and Dan’s eyes bugged out. In defiance, David cut a piece off the snake and took a bite. He then got up and carried the fried snake outside to the garbage. Before he returned from the garbage, I place his pork chop dinner at his place. The dinner conversation was about how a snake tasted. By the time dinner ended all tempers had ceased.
Yes, brothers -- I had two!
Lexie (age 3), David (age 5), Danny (age 7) & Chere (age 8)
Picture taken in 1956, Yerington, Nevada
Story occurred in 1964