The year was 1960. It was a leap year, and Monday the fourth of July when I came roaring into this world. (Talk about omens of my future). My older brother was three years old and just developing his taste for fireworks – the true childhood meaning of the fourth of July. My mother was in the hospital delivering a little sister instead of setting off the fireworks as planned. The family joke is that my brother never quite forgave me for screwing up all future fourth of Julys. This marked the beginning of many “boy tortures” which magically occurred at my birthday celebrations.
One year, my brother and two of his friends decide to kill most of my decorative birthday balloons, which hang suspended under the backyard patio like mini hot air balloons. They concoct the brilliant idea of filling water guns and shooting my balloons, thus popping them and spraying colored latex over my red, white and blue decorated party table.
I (being a future redhead) manage to catch my brother and his gang in mid balloon kill. It doesn’t matter that I am in my pretty party dress with my white blond curls and shinny dress shoes. I scream loud enough to raise the dead. I take off in a mad dash after my brother, who sat with his friends atop the fence grinning like Alice’s Cheshire Cat. I have visions of killing him when I catch him, which if you saw the difference in size between me and my brother, you could see this is pure fantasy on my part. But there is that fiery redhead temper, and all I want to do is hit him as hard as I can – or at the very least break something of his. Nothing is going to stop me from seeking my vengeance.
I quickly close the distance between us, because I can easily leap bushes. The years spent as a ballerina have its’ own athletic benefits. I am screaming at the top of my lungs while faintly hearing my mother yell, “What is going on?” from deep inside the house. I don’t answer, as I am too busy screaming; determined to tackle my brother and kill him.
I don’t count on my brother’s dark horse: Kevin. Kevin is the younger brother of Terry; two boys who live in the house next door. Kevin and Terry are the other two perpetrators of this evil assault on my birthday celebration. George, my brother’s best friend is not around, as George has never perpetrated one mean, boyish thing – ever. He would have said no to this diabolical boy plan out of love for me (or fear that his father would kill him). I’ll pretend it is the former, although it was more than likely the latter.
I am almost at my brother’s back when something comes at me from my right, leaping off the porch. It is Kevin. He tackles me, sending me and that frilly party dress down upon my father’s perfectly mowed lawn. I am so angry that I instantly begin kicking and yelling, directing all my anger at Kevin. He doesn’t quite know what to do with me, as he is now holding the Tasmanian devil.
He somehow manages to get a hold of my ankles. He pulls me into the air, thus hanging me upside down. My dress falls about my waist. I don’t care, as I attempt to twist about to punch his knees, while gathering enough spit to land a loogie on his crotch.
Is this a crystal ball’s glance into my future with men?
It is right at this moment that my very mortified, angry mother bursts out the front door yelling, “STOOOOOP
IT RIGHT NOW ALL OF YOU!!!”
With that, Kevin lets go and I drop to the ground with a thud. I jump to my feet screaming what the boys are up to, all the while glaring at Kevin, and planning his death. I had to swallow my loogie, which made me angrier as I had just arranged it in my mouth for the perfect spit. My mother instructs me to calm down, go in the house and clean up. She sends my brother’s friends home while speaking the sentence dreaded by all boys everywhere,
“Son, come over here. You and me are going to have a little talk.”
I remember sticking out my tongue at all three of them as I strut into the house, full of grass stains, strands of grass and a tear-filled defiant face. My brother is forced to change his clothes and help with my birthday party, followed by a week’s restriction. It still doesn’t stop me from thinking I will extract my vengeance at some later date on all of them. My brother is miserable just having to hang out at his little sister’s birthday party with her 10 giggling friends.
Years later, I would run into the elusive Kevin. He is home visiting from college, sitting on a bar stool in a local dance club. I pass behind him and he turns around to take in my features. He is devilishly handsome. At first, he doesn’t quite recognize me. I am 5’10, 130 pounds, red-haired and in my early 20’s. It is a good thing he has the bar to hold him up.
I think somehow he wishes he could turn back time and erase all the boyish things he’d done. We chat and I end up giving him a ride to where he is staying. There is chemistry, but neither of us act upon it.
The thought of him having torturous redhead thoughts for an eternity comfort my redheaded soul.
Because it all started with spit, a crotch and a party.
Doesn’t it always?
Just remember to be kind to redheads on the fourth of July. Consider it fair warning.
Until next time-
PS. How’s life treating you Kev?
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