There’s nothing I hate more than being chased.
I don’t mean being chased by someone with violent intent. I mean the garden variety “I’m gonna get you” chase game that we played as kids.
It’s not that I don’t like fun. Lord knows I’m always up for a game of Twister. But “tag” and “chase” were never my favorites. Even now as an adult, if my daughter is running up behind me, I squeal like a toddler. I blame my brother Tim for this neurosis.
Tim is five years older than me, the third kid in our family of seven (me being the seventh and most adorable). For some reason, he loved to scare the crap out of me when we were kids. Maybe it was because he had an older brother who did the same and he was just sharing the McGlinn family brand of love that flowed downhill.
Whatever the reason, he loved to see me scared.
Why You Don’t Let Brothers Control the Television
My parents were too busy with all of us kids that they didn’t pay attention to what we were watching, and really, back in the ’70s, how much trouble could you find on TV? My parents didn’t think anything of my brother sitting me down in front of “Creature Features”, “Night Gallery” and “Twilight Zone” episodes when I was five.
Holy cow. Imagine seeing The Creature From the Black Lagoon, the original King Kong and Godzilla movies without little kid adrenaline kicking in. Each film produced such nightmares, that I would crawl out of bed upstairs, go down the stairs in the dark and scare my mom and dad awake and ask if I could sleep with them. That alone should have tipped them off that something…or someone…was making me a fraidy cat.
But no. The more scared I got, the more it busted my brother’s gut. He would chase me up the stairs. He would chase me down the stairs. He would chase me around a pretend boxing ring in our living room before church on Sunday morning.
Then one day, vengeance was mine.
Why You Don’t Let Brothers Babysit
In my family, if you were the oldest in the crowd that was running around the neighborhood one day, you were the one in charge. So sometimes Tim was in charge of me and my sisters.
On one of many such occasions, we found ourselves in the garage of the kids across the street: six boys who were always up for adventure and mischief-making. One of the things they loved best was to tell ghost stories. Even in the middle of a bright summer day, a ghost story can wreak havoc on a youngster who has seen a giant lizard crush Tokyo with his bare feet.
On this particular day, the story was about the cemetery across the highway that we could see from our neighbor’s house. One of the boys was telling about how the “Hatchet Lady” rose up from her grave and attacked a young couple who were making out in their car. (Note: all of the stories involved teenagers who were kissing in cars. Why was this the prevalent theme? Was this a warning from our sweet Catholic school boy neighbors? But I digress…)
I got so scared that I ran out of the garage and across the street to our house. In my haste, I failed to notice that my brother Tim began chasing me, but then passed me so that he could beat me there. Being five years older and faster, he made it to the back door of the house before me, dashed in, locked it and then stuck his tongue out at me through the plate glass window that I could barely reach.
Forget fear. Anger kicked in. I was so mad that he was laughing at my anguish over the Hatchet Lady that I started banging on the window. In no time, it shattered.
By this point my brother was in hysterics. He couldn’t wait until my parents got home to tell them that I was the culprit. He was sure that my Dad would get out “the whacking belt” that was reserved for special displays of corporal punishment.
No sooner had he started laughing however, my parents arrived home from the grocery store. They looked at him. They looked at me crying. It took them no time to piece together the story. I was the innocent victim. Tim was the evil urchin. He was hauled off to face my father’s wrath (who after grocery shopping with my mother had had enough “merriment” for the day already, so you can just imagine.)
Fair warning: to this day, I can’t walk up a flight of stairs if someone is behind me. I get that startle reflex that I hate. So if you’re coming up behind me and I turn around and slug you, please don’t blame me. Take it up with my brother.