the Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

All in good fun

I wrote this in college, and have dragged it out to parade in front of the Internet as a Whole now. Names have been changed to protect those unfortunate enough to be related to me. And the little niece I speak of here will be old enough to buy alcohol next month.

Our front porch was fully enclosed, and there were windows all the way around the room. It wasn't too frigid until winter hit, so we played out there at least seven months of the year. An old glider was pushed up against the west wall, where its grinding and squeaking could barely compete with the heavy-handed piano playing on the other side of the wall in the living room.

The well-worn, buff-colored tiles on the floor bore the scars of the slings and arrows of outrageous children, the kind of children who never went anywhere without a crayon or a black El Marko in hand. The kind of children who perpetually shot their BB guns in the basement, dimpling the paneled walls in the back of the family room, the battleground of Barzedor Kids Vs the Little Grey Plasti-Goop Fighting Men that my brothers turned out by the hundreds for occasions such as these. The kind of children who, all said and done, basically didn't give a shit for the propriety and sanctity of indoor behavior. I suppose Squirl and JD could be excluded from that category of those with utter disregard for the home; the two oldest of the quintet, they obviously respected Mom and Dad more than the rest of us did. Tardist, Timmy and I were the little shits in the family.

Tardist is eight years older than I am, and Timmy outranks me by five. We used to get up on Saturday mornings to watch Scooby-Doo and chow down on doughnuts and Cap'n Crunch before Mom and Dad got up. Tardist would often amuse himself (okay, and me) by pinning Timmy down, passing gas in his face, and then sighing in satisfaction: "Aah! Just like rotten eggs!" Timmy would always holler in protest, which would wake up Mom and Dad, and then he'd get yelled at for it.

Spending so much time with brothers like that, I had two choices: be a victim or be a fellow grossout. The latter seemed like a lot more fun, so I did my best to develop a true flair for the ruder and cruder things in life. This strategy seemed to pay off to a certain extent; when they weren't torturing me or conspiring to cheat me out of my birthday money, I was allowed to join in on some of their borderline-sociopathic little diversions. They taught me how to make Chinese flip comics (which invariably featured some tasteless motif, generally involving vomiting or mutilation), how to squirt a healthy stream of Hawaiian Punch between my front teeth (oh, how it splattered so artfully on the yellow tiles of our kitchen walls), and how to induce belching at will. Timmy actually asked my permission (which I eagerly gave) to blow up my Dr. Zaius Planet of the Apes doll with a firecracker; it was glorious, with monkey pieces flying in every direction!

They let me play board games with them. Timmy was always a game freak; he developed a massive collection of sibling rivalry in a box. Tardist was the sore loser in the bunch. If you were his opponent, and you were clearly beating him, there was no way to react without rousing his temper. If you gloated, he'd throw a fit and upset the board; if you played poker face, you were patronizing him, so he'd throw a fit and upset the board. I vividly recall the way the red and blue plastic pieces of Stratego looked in flight; we always hoped he wouldn't toss the Risk board -- those pieces are so little, you always lose five or six troops in the couch.

There was, of course, a food-chain hierarchy involved in the little dramas of our lives. Tardist tended to target Timmy primarily, and Timmy turned the torture machinery in my direction. He'd come up behind me at the kitchen table and rap on the top of my head (not gently) several times in rapid succession (he called it "Corkers," because this was before the advent of "Noogies"). He'd hoot on me without mercy for the show tunes I constantly blasted on my record player (one step above the Close n' Play). He tagged me with the nickname Bucky Four-Eyes (and the ever-present variation, Buckaleena).

To be fair, he was not wholly without provocation. I was not a passive victim. Maybe I was just stupid; I sometimes went out of my way to irritate and spite him -- all in good fun, of course.

A company that was sending him a series of books in the mail (they were little history books for kids called "Step-Up Books," but they smelled like barf, so we called them "Throw-Up Books") had his name wrong on the mailing list, so that his semi-monthly packages came addressed to "Tina Barzedor." It never ceased to be funny to me, and it never began to be funny to Timmy.

Aside from his passion for board games, Timmy loved to build model airplanes. To this day, whenever I see balsa wood, I think of Timmy...and then I feel sorry for his wife. He took great pains to put the models together just right (he's a journeyman carpenter today), and he took pride in his finished work. He also tinkered with model rockets, and I think that must be where I found the parachute.

My friend Robbie and I were out on my front porch one afternoon, basking in the hot rays flooding in all those windows. We were playing with some Batman action figures he'd brought over; I think he had a Riddler and I had a Penguin. For some reason, Timmy had one of his rocket parachutes hanging upside down from the ceiling over on the southeast corner of the porch. Looking back and forth between the parachute and the umbrella in the Penguin's fist, I started to get ideas in my little pea brain. Without further ado or remorse, I found a pair of scissors, cut the strings of the 'chute to pull it down, and scotch taped it to the Penguine figurine. Robbie and I spent the rest of the afternoon outside, lobbing the Penguin into the air and testing the waft time afforded by the contraption. Robbie went home and I forgot about the matter. I forgot until I heard Timmy screaming bloody murder out on the porch, and I could fairly see the veins standing out on his forehead and his eyes bulging out of their sockets. I tried to lie my way out of it, but the scissors lying under the dangling, severed strings made a damning case against me. Timmy and Tardist both rode me something awful about lying (they even devised a plan to teach me a lesson, but that's another story).

There was always trouble for me on the front porch. With its panoramic view of and from the street, the room somehow always invited me to succumb to my undoing right there before god, country, and the neighbors who already thought I was a little crackpot.

I subscribed early to the "Room of One's Own" theory, though I didn't know what that was at the time. Since I didn't have my own bedroom yet, I was forever in search of my obsession, an office. Maybe it was in my blood, since Mom had been an executive secretary and also harbored a strange desire for office supplies and paraphernalia. Maybe it lent a sense of importance to all the scribbling and doodling I constantly did in notebooks and sketch pads (maybe it still does -- ooh, the thrill of new Pilot fine-point blacks pens and a fistful of sticky notes...god, Im moist as a snack cake!).

Squirl had handed down a little plastic white vanity that she'd played with at my age. Of course, she used it for its natural, intended, girlish pupose; she'd kept makeup and hairbrushes in the drawer, and she'd primped in the mirror. By the time I got it, the mirror was gone -- no big loss! -- and I hastened to remove any girlie stuff that was left in the drawer. This had become, in my hands, a desk. Wherever that vanity went was my office. For a time, it was right out in the dining room by the kitchen door. That wasn't private enough, so then my office was the little hallway between the back door of the music room and the bathroom. This afforded me the best privacy, but something in me was unable to resist the urge for a window office. I hauled my prissy little desk out onto the front porch and proceeded to scribble and scrawl in the full glory of the sun pouring through the windows.

A most memorable incident precipitated my move back to the bathroom hallway: One fine day, I was feeling a little vicious toward Timmy (for some reason, or perhaps for no particular reason), so I decided to take it out on him in print. There were times when nothing felt better than to write something exceptionally libelous about someone and then gloat, knowing that you were superior and the poor bastard didn't even know it. When I was really little, and Mom and Dad would yell at me for something, I'd take my revenge by drawing pictures of them with pig noses. That showed 'em. With an evil, gleeful feeling, I put black Flair marker to newsprint
tablet and proceeded to wax more verbose than I probably should have at my age:

Timothy Barzedor, the rather feminine blonde boy, was running late for school. He spent a long time in front of his bedroom closet, trying to find the perfect purse to go with his frilly pink dress...

About this time, I had the ungodly feeling that eyes were upon me, deeply unfriendly eyes, eyes that smoldered and spun and shot red lightning all around the rims. I had that portent of deep shit. Too late, I realized the foolhardy nature of my sitting with my back to one of the windows facing the living room. Before I even turned around, I knew what I would see: Timmy, eyes blazing, nostrils flared like a rabid bull, biceps tensed and hands balled into fists. He had, of course, read every word over my shoulder, each with more rage, until his seething anger was tangible through the glass. Needless to say, there was no escape, and he came out there and whipped my ass. Every writer must suffer for his art (or because of it, in my case).

We took it, we dished it out, and we all deserved each other. Now we are, by all appearances, grown to adulthood, and Timmy owns the old homestead with his wife and kids. In my visits, I have noticed that the front porch still holds the same spirit of piss and vinegar. When the kids go out there, there is always a scuffle, crying, and an immediate protestation of "I didn't do it!"

Some things never change: Timmy has now amassed a roomful of board games, plus a generous assortment of video games, a pinball machine, and a pool table. I still delight in sequestering myself in my office (I haven't, however, written any spiteful tales of men in dresses lately). Tardist still doesn't like to lose, although now his game is (I feel the gorge rising now) Sega Video Golf, so he can't really flip the board in the air anymore (UPDATE: Tardist is now an X-Box devotee).

I've passed on the plastic vanity/desk to my neice, Rachel, who delights me by sharing my office supplies fetish (it's in her blood, dammit!). I realize that I should have shared my little poison-pen story with her as a cautionary tale, but it's too late for that now. When, by her request, we included some sticky notes in her Christmas package, she proceeded to concoct slanderous statements about her brothers, like "Keith, you are a butt" (this came complete with a drawing of butt cheeks with a gold star stuck in the middle). After she placed this in Keith's room for him to find later, I surmised that my best bet would be to clear out before the re-enactment of the Barzedor sibling fireworks commenced.

Laughing, I headed out as quickly as possible, with pictures of parachutes, squirting Hawaiian Punch, and feminine blonde boys with gold-starred anuses dancing in my head.

19 of you felt the overwhelming need to say somethin':

Blogger Unknown said...

Bwahahahaha...That's great Bucky! I felt just like I was there (or, you know, watching from the house next door or something).

8:57 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger eclectic said...

3 older brothers for me, too. The picture is painted here in perfect hues. You outdid yourself on this one, Buckster.

9:47 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Squirl said...

You really were a glutton for punishment, weren't you.? :-)

9:56 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Oh man, this brings back the days from long ago. Both with the sibs, but also with the kids in da 'hood.

Let's just not bring up the L'ville slugger bat to my youngest sister. OK? :)

10:35 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Susie said...

You get a gold star on your butt for this one :)

11:17 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

Where does one find those feminine blonde boys?

11:49 PM, March 14, 2006  
Blogger I'm not here. said...

:::rapturous applause from the audience:::
Beautiful imagery!

That deserves two, stars.

1:27 AM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Phoebe Fay said...

That was wonderful, Bucky! I, too, am the youngest. One brother used to force me to watch the show Kung Fu with him, and then he'd practice on me during commercials. And if I cried to mom for help, all she'd tell my brothers was "don't maim her." Yup, you learn to take and you learn to dish. It's a great thing.

11:13 AM, March 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damned if you aren't a kick-ass writer. Which I already knew, but still. Wow.

12:14 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

Bucky, you wrote that in college? You have so many talents: comedian, essayist, movie director/producer, writer—and I know I’ve left half a dozen out!

12:45 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger eclectic said...

Yeah she's a musician, and I hear she's got a talented monkey, too. Must be in the jeans.

2:02 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Susie said...

talented monkey in her jeans . . . *sniff* eclectic, you do us proud :)

2:08 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Katy Barzedor said...

CKelli - so, has this confirmed for you that you never, ever want me to speak to your children?

Eclectic - Thanks! I finger painted it myself.

Squirl - yeah, I spent a lot of years purposely baiting Timmy. Why, oh, why? Maybe I enjoyed all the ass kicking.

Mr. B - ooooh, a li'l vicious with the ball bat, are ya? Let's compare notes.

Susie - I love the star,'s chafing!

Jim - apparently, in Grand Haven!

M_D - with two stars, do I put one on each ass cheek, or do I go for the nipples? Decisions, decisions...

Nikki - even better than Granny? I am humbled. :)

Phoebe Fay - I'm SO glad my brothers weren't into Kung Fu. Tardist didn't really beat me up much, but Timmmy would've jumped at the chance to find a new way to pay me back for...well, for being born!

Kalki - that is ESPECIALLY flattering coming from you.

SS Nick - you forgot porn star!

Eclectic - I have a monkey of many talents. Just stopped myself from listing these talents, as that would indeed be TMI.
But yes, there is a musical monkey in my jeans. Among other things, it plays a mean skin flute.


Susie - Don't be sheddin' tears on my monkey. She might take it the wrong way.

2:24 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Nina said...

I love it . . . great story. This is the best . . . I will give you gold stars too. But you can choose where to put them.

3:18 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

That thing with the bat only happened that one time.

Purely accidental of course.

4:05 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

On the contrary, I think Sweet Pea could teach you a thing or two...

5:02 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

I thought all the blonde boys were in Saugatuck?

5:02 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Squirl said...

New masthead! I like the colors.

9:11 PM, March 15, 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

Porn star? I don't remember seeing your maked bod.

6:02 PM, March 16, 2006  

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