We weren’t your average family, not even close. I suppose we sort of resembled one (to outsiders) when my biological father was in the picture, but once my mom left my dad (with good reason I might add), things got rather wild. There was very little structure when it was just my mom in charge. She wasn’t around much so you can imagine the shenanigans that took place. There were essentially no rules or boundaries. I thought of us as a pack of wild wolves with no ‘alpha’ to lead the way. The 2-story house we lived in at the time was fairly spacious and it sat on a double lot. It had what most homes had, bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining area, but it also had some really cool features that we completely exploited. We essentially turned it into an indoor playground. Back in the day, we probably would have been great contenders on American Ninja Warrior!
Stairs weren’t just for walking (or running) up and down, they also served as a slide. You just needed a piece of cardboard or a blanket and a bit of imagination. The laundry chute which ran from the top of the house all the way to the basement, gave each of us an excellent opportunity to work our biceps and quads. I still remember climbing through it (usually barefoot so I could grip the sides), all the while hoping that no one decided to toss their smelly clothes into the chute because the only place they could possibly land was on my head (and if it was a heavy load, good luck!). On either side of the fireplace was a door, one of which contained a fairly large box that could be lowered to the basement level to be refilled. At the lower level, in the basement, there was a crank that could be turned in order to raise the box back up. The box was intended for wood but we used it mostly for transporting children to and from the basement. It was actually quite fun unless one of my siblings that was in control of the crank decided to let go of the handle. Dropping at a high rate of speed and stopping once the box made contact with the floor proved rather jarring and wasn’t my favorite part of ‘the ride’ but it did happen from time to time, depending on who was in control of the crank.
There was so much to do in that house, and we found ways to be creative even when it might result in a broken limb or worse. How none of us died in that house is quite surprising, really. The walls were giant canvases that I particularly liked to color on. The roof was something to leap off of. The basement served as a race track. But the attic held the greatest surprises! I’m not sure why exactly, but bats liked to hang out in our attic. Maybe they were drawn to our house because of the ghouls and goblins that resided in the nearby cemetery? I cannot say. But we had a lot of time on our hands and no fear to speak of, so once, when one of my particularly mischievous brothers found the bats yet again up in the attic, he decided to use them for something I am sure NONE OF YOU have ever considered, NOT EVER. My oldest brother is one of those guys that liked/likes to get people riled up. With him, it’s all or nothing, go big or go home. On this particular occasion, he decided to have some fun with these bats. Please know, no animals were hurt in the process (at least that I’m aware of). What did he do, you ask? Well, he gathered them up and put them into a box. He then carried the box to school, brought it into the gym and opened it up, releasing the bats in all their glory RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SCHOOL ASSEMBLY! I can only imagine the horror…and the screams from the students and administrators as the bats flew about the building. Honestly, I have to admit, it makes me laugh every single time I hear the story.
Let’s just say, life has never been dull. It’s been difficult, it’s been tragic, it’s been challenging and it’s even been joyful on a rare occasion, but it’s never been dull. Anyway, I just have to ask you, after sharing the last little tidbit about the bats, do you think this particular brother (that I just mentioned) has mellowed over the years? What I have come to believe due to the interactions and experiences I’ve had throughout my life is that most people don’t change. They might be an older, fatter (or thinner) version of their former selves, but people in general don’t change. Having said that, the answer is = NOT ON YOUR LIFE! He still enjoys drawing attention to himself and getting people worked up. Even though he’s a senior citizen now, he’s one of those guys that you usually notice in the stands during a sporting event. Unfailingly, the cameras always seem to pan over to him so he tends to be featured a lot during televised games. As I said, it’s always been ‘go big or go home’ and he’s still ‘going big’. Good for you, big brother! My hat’s off to you. But should you ever consider to amuse yourself with bats again, stick to the artificial ones. They are plentiful at this time of year and you don’t have to worry about contracting rabies.