October 5, 2007
By Jackie Olsen (http://www.jackieolsen.com)
In elementary school my sister seemed to sail through unscathed, whereas I was subject to any number of indignities from my classmates on a regular basis. I was, to her, a pest, a trial, a barnacle on the side of her gloriously perfect ship. It was horrifying and vexing by turns to be that little sister. I couldn’t get it together no matter what I did. I was always late, always making her late, always forgetting something or breaking something else.
I was plagued by two boys who made fun of me almost constantly in third grade. Nothing my parents did seemed to stop the abuse. And my sister did her level best to duck out of walking me home from school and by the time I was 8 I was able to ride my bike home by myself. It certainly suited her not to have to deal with her pesky little sister.
One day the two boys lay in wait, unbeknownst to me. I rode fast, standing up on the pedals on the hills. Suddenly something sailed by, and then there they were, running up to me on the bike, throwing something at me. Eggs! I was being egged. One hit my arm and splattered over my shirt. I rode harder and made it around the corner. I was soon home.
My sister was in the kitchen and turned from the stove to see me stagger into the house, tears in my eyes. “What! What happened!” she asked.
“They egged me,” I cried. “Eggs. They threw eggs at me.”
And wouldn’t you know it, my sister turned out to have a sympathetic bone in her body, and she vowed to get those boys for me. “I’ll ride home with you tomorrow.” I soon calmed myself at the prospect of my big sister helping me out.
Next day it snowed, hard. The sky was white and we walked home from school together.
From out of the gloom came the boys. “Hey, fathead,” said one of them. I’d been called “fathead” all year, despite my using the great comeback line “fat heads have big brains.” Like that helped. They just didn’t let up, those boys.
My sister froze in place. I looked desperately at her as the boys drew in, snowballs in hand. At least it wasn’t eggs this time around. But she wouldn’t be any help at all, I could tell. I summoned my courage.
I yelled, “Think of an ICE COLD SHOWER,” sneering. “Imagine the ICE COLD WATER.” They stared at me. “You’re covered in ICE COLD.” In the moment I couldn’t think of anything else to say, but I used what little I had.
We pushed through and ran, and they didn’t throw the snowballs until we were halfway down the block.
“I can’t believe you did that,” said my sister. I couldn’t help noticing just a little bit of admiration in her voice. Ah, the triumph.