My baby brother was a runt when he was little. He was a tiny baby and was always the smallest kid in his class– until he hit high school and suddenly turned into G.I. Joe. I think it may have been his midget-ness, coupled with the never-ending torture that my middle brother and I put him through, that spawned in him a need to prove himself. And that he did, in every way possible.
A2 (as I have referred to him in previous posts) was the kind of kid who jumped off the top of the jungle gym and on the way down remembered, “Oh yeah, I have to land…” He was so absent-minded and non-observant that the house once literally almost burned down around him while he obliviously watched TV. (My mother got out of the shower and walked into the living room, which had completely filled with smoke from a very burnt turkey in the oven, and A2 looked up at her in complete surprise when she shrieked and asked him how in the hell of all shits he hadn’t noticed.) And he feared nothing. That is not a good combination.
A2 got stitched back together more times in the first ten years of his life than his brother and I have in all of our years put together up to this point. The fact that he would eat virtually anything for money provided no end of amusement to A1 and me over the years. The father of one of his friends once made the mistake of handing him an unopened box of Milk Bones and offering him a dollar for every one he ate. He ate all thirty-five. It was this fearlessness and ability to eat things that would kill a normal person that made him a perfect candidate for the military. And it prepared him well.
Anyone who knows anything about the military knows that, on bivouac, you get nothing but severely rationed rations. Basically a square of cardboard meat and flammable, powdered creamer twice a day. After being in the woods for a week, A2 and his guys wandered back onto their base and passed a dumpster. On top of the trash in the dumpster was a Papa John’s box, and it called to them like a siren. Upon opening it, they discovered half an uneaten pizza. So A2 and his buddies sat down on the ground next to the dumpster and went Godzilla on the trash pizza. As they were wolfing it down, their CO walked by and gasped in horror when he realized what they were doing. “What the hell is wrong with you guys??!” he cried. “I threw that pizza out yesterday!!”
Once on an open-ocean swim, A2 and his swim buddy stopped to tread water for a moment. “Damn, man, I’m thirsty,” A2 said. And no sooner were the words out of his mouth than a half-full bottle of Gatorade floated past. Not bothering to consider how long it might have been floating, or whether he might contract three kinds of hepatitis, A2 promptly downed part of the bottle, then offered the rest to his swim buddy. He also once ate candy off the ground on the sidewalk. Opened candy. He has the immune system of a cyborg and the stomach of a trash compactor.
His next ocean adventure was a little less fortuitous. He was doing a polar bear swim with the rest of the guys in his troop, and they made a bet to see who could last longest in the icy water. A2, of course, won. As he dragged himself back to the beach triumphantly, he realized that he was getting some funny looks. Finally, he looked down and realized that there was a large and very alive jellyfish wrapped tightly around his calf. He was so numb from the cold water that he couldn’t feel it. Prying it off was the stuff of legends. And now, among his guys, A2 is the stuff of legends.
I like to think that some of the torture A1 and I exposed him to as children helped prepare him for his life in the military. He does seem to take everything in stride better than most. Things that would either make me scream in horror or vomit profusely have no effect on him. I view it as a excellent argument for the validation of shooting your sibling in the nipples with a BB gun for target practice. Imagine all the times he found himself in a terrible situation and thought, “Well, at least it’s not as bad as getting tagged in the nips with BBs,” or “At least I’m not being force-fed dog poo (go read my previous posts for the story on that one).” Yup, sibling torture surely made my youngest brother the G.I. Joe lookalike he is today. You’re welcome, little bro. I will be a dick for your well-being any day.