by Jeanette Levellie
Aunt Lois and Uncle Jack bought me the toy of my dreams, an Easy Bake Oven, the year I was eight. I had wanted one forever (well, a year or so) and couldn’t wait to try it out. Two days later I was down the block at my friend Kathy’s, where we strung an extension cord out onto the driveway to make our dainty delicacies, Kathy’s mom voting us out of her kitchen for who knows what crazy reason.
After only twenty minutes of baking delight, my older brother, Danny came down, shouting that Mom wanted me on the phone. I hurried up the street, wondering why Mom was calling from work in the middle of the day on our Christmas vacation. Maybe she just wanted to have me get something out of the freezer for supper.
Instead, I got an earful. “Danny says you are strewing your Easy Bake Oven stuff all over Kathy’s parents’ driveway. Clean that up and get it home this instant. I’m sure Aunt Lois and Uncle Jack did not intend you to be traipsing all over the neighborhood making messes with that toy. They spent a lot of money on that...”
I tried to argue, explaining that we’d only made one or two recipes, and Danny was totally exaggerating about the mess. But Mom refused to listen. I dejectedly walked back to Kathy’s, picked up my oven, and toted it home. Conveniently, Danny had blipped out of the universe for the next two hours, when Mom would be home to prevent me from poisoning his kool-aid with dish soap or putting thumbtacks on the toilet seat.
Because he was the only male in the family for several years between Mom’s two marriages, he felt it his duty to keep enforcing his reign of terror over me. The Easy Bake Oven Escapade was only one in a long line of tactics meant to intimidate the short redhead. I shudder at the memory of Arm Behind Back Torture in the Back Seat while Mom is in Grocery Store; Waiting at Bathroom Door in the Dark with Terrifying Stone-faced Look; and Blood-congealing Maniacal Laugh before He Beat Me up.
We youngest may have been spoiled with extra toys, later bedtimes, and more of Mom and Dad’s money when we went to college. But we paid for it in our earlier years by the torture imposed on us from above. I haven’t done the research, but I’ll bet you my Easy Bake Oven that Genghis Khan was an older brother.
Danny passed away this January. He’s probably training the older angels how to give the younger ones noogies, and the best times to tattle to God. I wish I could be there to hear it. I also wish I could have him back here for an hour or two. I’d hold his arm behind his back, right up under his wings, and make him cry, “Uncle!” for me just once.
Jeanette Levellie authors a newspaper column in Paris, Illinois, and has published magazine and devotional articles. She is a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother. Find her humorous/inspirational blog at http://jeanettelevellie.