Even Steven!!


My dad had a very interesting life and I could listen to him tell his stories all day.  He had a large family that included one brother and six sisters.  Every one of them loved to talk, so when they all got together, it would get a bit noisy.  They were an extremely close family and every Saturday night they would all gather at my dad’s parent’s house.  Although they loved to talk, they did not have their weekly gathering to chat.  No; they gathered to play their Saturday night card game of High Nine.  Most people are not familiar with High Nine and personally, I have never met anyone other than my family that has ever played this game.  High Nine is played with four people who divide up into two teams.   The cards are dealt and each person bids on the middle pot called the “widow”.  You can only bid once, and the person who bids the highest, gets the widow.  Once the high bidder chooses the best suit in their hand, they make that suit trumps and they discard the extra cards they cannot use.  The other players also discard unwanted cards and then everyone is dealt more cards to make an even six cards in their hand.  The person who made trumps relies on their partner to help catch points and the opposing team’s goal is to keep the bidder from making the points, or “set” them.  I find this card game very fast paced, exciting and fun.  And, believe me, if you want to win, you had better concentrate on the cards being played.

No one under the age of eighteen was allowed to sit in on the card game so all of us young ones would play together.  All the kids would have to stay outside as long as it was warm enough.  We played tag, hide-and-seek, kick-the-can, cards, monopoly or anything that kept us entertained.  We were pretty good kids most of the time.  Occasionally we would get rowdy and have water fights or just fight.  My brother was pretty good at instigating fights, especially between me and one of my cousins we called YoYo.  I never knew why we called him YoYo, but that’s what we still call him.  When someone mentions his real name, we all say, “Who?”

When we were stuck inside because of cold weather or rain, we would occasionally play wrestling.  Since my brother was older and bigger, he was always the referee and YoYo and I would be famous wrestlers.  YoYo was always Tojo Yamamoto, who was one of the most evil and most hated wrestlers of all time.  Well, I had to be just as tough as Tojo, so I was Bearcat Brown.  Bearcat Brown was gigantic black man with bleached blond hair and to top it off, he had a steel plate in his head.  When Bearcat Brown was in the ring he waited for the right moment and then he would headbutt his opponents and knock them out.   Once my bother gave us the referee spill of, “Okay.  I want a fair fight; no hitting below the belt and when the bell rings, come out fighting!”, YoYo and I would shake hands and go to our corners and wait for the bell to ring.  Once my brother was sure we were in our corners and ready to fight, he would say, “Ding!”  When that bell rang, Tojo Yamamnoto and Bearcat Brown would go at it.  Although wrestling would always start out as just-for-fun, it soon became pure, undefiable war.  My brother would say things like, “Tojo, I can’t believe you’re letting a girl whip you!”, or “Bearcat, don’t take that from him!”.   Eventually, the wrestling became boxing and then it became kicking.    When I got really mad and could take no more, I would bend my neck and do a Bearcat Brown headbutt right into my cousin’s nose.  YoYo’s nose would start bleeding and that would end the fight and I would win.

One night the fight was really bad and YoYo and I were in an all out war again.  We were roughing each other up pretty bad and YoYo was so mad his face was red and I was almost crying, and then all the sudden we heard my brother laughing.   YoYo and I looked at each other, then looked at my brother and we stopped fighting.  My brother yelled, “Come on; the fight’s not over.” But it was for us.  YoYo and I walked off and later we talked about it and decided it was all my brother’s fault and we were tired of beating each other up just so my brother could laugh at us.  We put our two heads together and planned to get even.

While all the adults were playing High Nine in the kitchen, us kids were watching television in the living room.  It was getting late and all the other kids had fallen asleep, including my brother.  He was stretched out on the couch with his bare feet hanging over the arm.  YoYo and I put our plan into action.  I reached into my pocket where I had stashed some matches YoYo had found earlier.   I handed YoYo two or three and with the matches in our hands, we quietly crawled over to where my brother’s feet were dangling.  YoYo took the left foot and I took the right foot and we both carefully placed a match between my brother’s fourth toe and pinky toe.   My brother flinched for just a second and then he was still again.  We looked at each other and nodded our heads, which meant we were ready to implement our plan.  We each took another match and struck it to the side of the box.  Once both matches were lit, YoYo lit the match between my brother’s left toes and I lit the match between my brother’s right toes.   We blew out our matches and quickly laid down on the floor and pretended to be asleep.  I remember peeking at my brother through one eye and I was amazed at how long it took for him to wake up.  But boy when he did wake up, he could have woke up the entire neighborhood.  I tried not to laugh, but I have never seen someone kicking and screaming so loud in my life.   I let out a little giggle and YoYo heard me and he started laughing; then my laughter broke loose.  We were laughing so hard we were both crying and my brother was mad as hell.  Thankfully, the grown-ups made it to the room right before my brother could get to us.  Now, I’m sure we got into trouble, but I really don’t remember.  But, I do remember how good it felt to finally get even.

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