Monday, March 19, 2012

One Thing I Shouldn't Know

When I was a very little boy, maybe in first grade, my dad worked with a guy named Bret. (Name been modified) Bret had two kids, Zak and Jacky, whom my mom babysat. (Their names are likewise modified) There aren't a lot of facts about these two kids. Zak's nose was always runny and he called my Gramma, Gramma, much to her displeasure. Jacky was pigeon-toed and always tripped over her own feet. Also it was annoying as hell when she cried. My younger brother and my cousin who were about the same age as Zak used to beat him up with sticks. It was a hard knock life for any child at my house twenty years ago, but no one had it worse off there than Zak. Sometimes I feel bad about it. But, what are you gonna do, we lived hard and we played hard.

There was one time that they were worried because their mom and her boyfriend were late picking them up. My oldest brother told them that she was dead in a ditch. It made them cry, they had nightmares and my brother got in trouble. But it was worth it; we still laugh about "dead in a ditch"today. What else is there to say about those kids? We didn't much care for them. The really sad part is that they would bring us candy for every holiday and how did we repay them? We tormented their young minds and beat them with sticks. (We believed in paying it forward!)

Why am I telling you all of these things?

Today is Bret's birthday. Why do I know this? I wish I didn't. One day, some twenty years ago, he came to pick up his kids at the end of the day. I stood in the kitchen with him while he waited. He started talking to me and, without being too obvious, I did my best to talk down to him. I don't remember thinking too highly of him either. As we were talking he asked me when my birthday is.

"March 20th" I answered.

"Oh mine's March 19th" he replied, "So it's the day after yours."

"You're an idiot." I didn't say that, but I thought it. "It's the day before mine" is what I actually said. Thinking back on it, I'm impressed with my self-control. I'm not sure I could have done so well today if faced with the same conversation.

So, today is Bret's birthday. Happy Birthday, Bret... I guess. Twenty years later I still remember this fact. I wish I didn't.

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