I’ve always been smarter than my brother. It was just the way the chips fell. It’s always been easy to trick him, confuse him, and beat him at Scrabble. I got the brains, and he got the body hair. It’s only fair.
When we were growing up, I liked to take advantage of my... um... advantage. I could convince him of just about anything. So one day, when he was about 5 or 6, I told him that boys his age will often lose their hearing. I told him that it usually starts small to where everything sounds quieter and then out of nowhere they’re deaf. He believed every word of it, so later that day I started asking him if he’d noticed anything getting quieter. He said that the TV sounded quieter when he was watching He-Man that morning(I turned the volume down because he didn’t have the remote). So I said to him, “Well that’s bad. It sounds like it’s starting already. I hope you don’t go deaf.” But instead of speaking normally, I faded out my voice a little with each sentence, so that the last thing he could really hear was me saying, “I hope you....” The last three words I just mouthed.
I didn’t think it would work at first because he just stared at me. But after a few seconds he yelled, “What?!” I could hear the panic in his voice. So I made a calm face and mouthed “What?” He then yelled even louder, “What?! I can’t hear you!” So I mouthed, “You can’t hear me? You can’t hear me?” and mimicked his horrified face. Just short of crying, he repeated that he couldn’t hear me. So just to make sure I sold it, I turned my head in the direction of the living room and mimed yelling “MOM!!!!” at the top of my lungs. He burst into tears and ran in to find our mom.
This is where I messed up. I hadn’t thought past the idea of convincing him he was deaf. Like any other kid, I just thought about how funny that would be and stopped planning. So I didn’t take into account how my parents would react to it. My brother went running into the living room, screaming his head off that he couldn’t hear. He was virtually inconsolable. I sat just around the corner admiring the after-effects of my little prank. It took a few minutes for my mom to even understand what he was saying. He was doing that little kid “cry-until-you-get-sick” sob. The one where even when you stop crying, you inhale sharply between each breath. Usually it’s when you’re in trouble, so your parents have to say, “You need to stop or you’re gonna throw up!”
“I can’t hear! I can’t hear!”
“What? What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”
“No. I just can’t hear anymore. My ears don’t work!”
“Your ears don’t work, what are you talking about?”
“Taylor told me that a lot of boys stop hearing when they’re my age, and then I couldn’t hear anymore just now.”
“Well, can you hear me right now?”
“Can you hear the TV?”
“I can’t hear anyth.... Hey! I can hear the TV!”
“Alright, then you’re okay. You can hear again, I’m sure you won’t be one of those boys who can’t hear anymore.”
My brother passed me in the hall and told me the “good” news. I just nodded and waited for my turn to come. And sure enough, just when my brother was walking into his room.... “TAYLOR, YOU GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!”
I ended up doing the “cry-until-you-get-sick” sob after my punishment. And then I couldn't sit down for a few days without wincing. In hindsight, though, I can say it was worth it.