My mom also taught me big words in the same way. How many times she told my younger, older brother, “Stop aggravating her,” when he would tease me until he made cry.
Then he would say, “Kid, you turn the tears on like a water faucet.” I’d sure get pictures in my mind whenever he said. But, he’d stop teasing me and often he’d ask me to play a game with him, as some form of peace offering.
I was eight years younger. My younger, older brother was bigger, better at every game I knew. I never stood a chance at any game we played. It was hardly fair. After all, he taught them to me. On the way to set the game up sometimes he would already be telling me what I had to do when I lost. Of course, I’d do it. I was the baby of the family. I didn’t know any better.
Then I learned to play Jacks. Somewhere around 8 years old, we replaced the little, red rubber ball and five jacks with a golf ball and ten. That change afforded more control and a bigger challenge. At school we played Jacks at every recess, that was almost 2 hours a day, if we ate lunch fast. There wasn’t one of us who couldn’t get all of the way to the tensies of downcast double quickies, and even past that to the . . . I can’t remember what they’re called, but we would throw the ball up in the air, move the jacks, and catch the ball before it hit touched the ground.
One day when my brother offered a peace game, I suggested a game of Jacks. He met me in our concrete driveway. Needless to say that was the game I finally won. I won in two ways. I beat him at the game and I learned another great turn of a phrase.
“Kid, I swear you play with a square ball and loaded jacks.”
It’s a compliment that I still savor.
−me strauss Letting me be