Big Brothers Are The Best

When I was but a lad of 5 or 6, my kindly elder brother Davis became frustrated with me playing with his action figures. So he talked our mom into allowing him to charge me $1 for every one of his toys that I touched. Why did my sweet mother allow her pre-age-of-accountability son to be extorted thus?

I. Have. No. Idea.

Maybe she had just read Lord of the Flies or Origin of Species and thought juvenile anarchy and the stong preying on the weak would work nicely in our home. I was Piggy, Davis was Jack, and protective Ralph was nothing more than a figment of my daytime wishes.

“Wasn’t Ryan Ralph?”

No, adolescent Ryan was more like Data from Star Trek.


Hey Ryan, can you protect me from Davis for a minute?

That. Is. A. Negatory. Small. Humanoid. I. Am. Presently. Exclusively. Engaged. In. Building. My. Sherlock. Holmes. Costume. For. Halloween. And. Studying. To. Take. Earth’s. Bar. Exam. At. Age. 9.

But Davis was always a smooth talker. He was 73 pounds of charm and Gotcha shirts, Girbaud jeans, and Varnet sunglasses, so I can hardly blame Mother.

So Davis started to make some decent side cash from his little scam. A buck here, a buck there. Behind the walls of a meticulously landscaped house on Farmington Hills Drive, there was a racket being operated. And I was the patsy. Unfortunately, my preschool hadn’t offered any courses in scam avoidance or lobbying for policy change, so I guess the authorities of the home figured I was on my own. Or maybe my parents didn’t live with us that year, which would make more sense. Do you know how much $1 was to a 6 year old back in 1986? When you factor in inflation and earning capacity, it’s like DDDT’s average reader being fined eight or nine hundred dollars. For touching a figurine.

data cat 2

We snapped this picture of Ryan with our cat, Tigger, during one of the parentally-mandated 10 minute “Emotion Sessions” he had to have daily.

One day I was walking to my bedroom, chomping Big League Chew and wondering who would win a fight between a Siberian Tiger and Kodiak Brown Bear, when I came across an interesting scene: 7 G.I. Joes seductively scattered about the entrance of my room. I scanned the area for witnesses, sat down and got to playing. I would be cautious; just a touch. Maybe a quick set piece battle between Ace and Bazooka, and Copperhead and Thrasher. After a 30 seconds or so, Davis jumped out behind the door he had been hiding behind the whole time and called for Mom. He had devised the dirty scheme, set the trap, laid in wait, held off until he had seen me touch all 7, then ran to show the judge the evidence. Do you know how much $7 was to a 6 year old back in 1986? Go pay for a used Civic or a fabulous Vera Wang gown and you’ll have an idea. I remember having to pony up. Davis might remember differently, but keep in mind that he’s a liar.

Around the same time, Davis, Ryan, and their friend convinced me and their friend’s younger brother that after considering the matter gravely, and since they cared for us and wanted us to be happy, they had agreed that it was time to let us play in their amazing game show in the friend’s basement. “The Price Is Wrong!” We paid quarters to buy our spots as contestants. When we won, we were awarded popsicle sticks.

But Davis and Ryan weren’t all thievery and manipulation. Davis had an altruistic streak too. One summer when he was 8 and I was 5 he offered to teach me and my friend karate lessons. Anyone who knows Davis knows that he’s way good at karate, and always has been. He told us he knew karate and could give us a series of free lessons. We believed him. All summer long I pestered him about beginning my apprenticeship. He had other stuff going on, lots of stuff, but promised we would get to it shortly.

I’m still waiting for those lessons.

And I want my $7 back.

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18 Responses to Big Brothers Are The Best

  1. Eliza says:

    oh my gosh Davis! unbelievable. That is the saddest thing I ever heard. and one of the funniest too. Although Chris, I’m not entirely ready to let you off the hook, because from ages 5-13 (when you left on your mission) you were the very bane of my existence. Remember cutting my hair when I slept? remember putting me in a sleeping bag and throwing me down the stairs? Remember giving me those murderous looks and expressing how much you hated babysitting me and banishing me into mom’s room to watch tv by myself on friday nights? yeah, good times. 🙂

  2. Christian says:

    I think you’re confusing me with Andrea in your memory. No harm done.

    And how would you like babysitting a 14 year old when you were 18?

  3. Ryan says:

    Loool. Such good times. That action figure racket was one of his worst. But not his only one.

    You are wrong about not receiving karate lessons, though. I remember him lining you and Jeffy (or Dusty?) up by the tree, with an old shipping pallet leaned up against the tree, and him saying “punch, kick! punch, kick!” to whomever was fighting the pallet, over and over again. It wasn’t exactly karate like, but he was teaching you to punch and kick a pallet. So don’t say he did nothing.

  4. Landon says:

    So funny! being the oldest in the family has its drawbacks, like having new parents that have never experienced parenting an adolescent and are rookies at setting curfews and tend to error on the side of setting them too early. you have presented one positive of being first in line.

    Happy Shark Week

  5. Layne says:

    Eliza, Christian was merely fulfilling his brotherly duty in the family pecking order. Davis and Ryan abused him, then he got a turn to abuse someone. You might feel ripped off because you’re the youngest and didn’t get to abuse someone younger than you. Those are the breaks kid.

    Good post Kook.

  6. craftyashley says:

    My younger brother stole $6 from me once. I had put it in a special place, came back and found it gone! Strangely this is exactly when my little brother claimed to FIND $6 while cleaning under this bed. And guess what? MY PARENTS BELIEVED HIM. He’s 24 now- and he still owes me $6.

  7. Braden says:

    Oh Kook, I’m aching from laughing so hard. Hilarious–and all the small touches (Big League chew, Guess jeans, Varnet sunglasses) were pitch perfect. In fact, as I read this, I could feel the breeze blowing out of Farmington Canyon and smell the night/morning smell of the Great Salt Lake.

    This is all true, by the way. However, Dave’s greatest racket was when he borrowed Ry’s shorts, ruined them, and persuaded Dad that Ry owed him money for new shorts. That was one of the first times Mere visited our family and she still talks about it.

    In fairness to Dave, though, I want to say that he was honorable. Unlike some ofther younger brothers, he wouldn’t squeal. When you made a deal with Dave, you knew you could count on him.

  8. Ryan says:

    Oh man. Kook was such a squealer.

  9. Serene says:

    OMGosh! I actually laughed out loud on the bit about Ryan and the cat. Still chuckling actually. Did you know girls can chuckle?

    Poor Christan. I think you should get that $7 back… plus interest. Only seems fair.

    I just had to endure my oldest brother walking around the house as a teenager in whitey tighties.

    I suppose you should count your blessings it was only money and not psychological damage.

    Me? I’m scarred for life.

  10. Gina says:

    I can’t believe your mom made you pay up after being trapped!

    I kind of understand the fines in the first place, being an oldest child. I would have liked to have been given a dollar every time my lip gloss or hoop earrings or awesome new black skirt was touched (girls have different priorities), but after being trapped? That just seems wrong. So wrong.

  11. Braden says:

    Aagghh!!! Serene, now we are all damaged, too.

  12. Amy M says:

    Please if you love us at all, your faithful readers, get the parentals to either start commenting or guest posting. We need to hear from the people who created you criminal hooligans.

  13. Rebecca Bell says:

    i have never heard that story- and all this time i was harboring bad feelings for the whole smoothie episode when this was 10x worse! davis- you devious little schemer!

  14. Ben Pratt says:

    What Braden said.

  15. Davis says:

    As much as I’d like to pretend these stories are true – they do, after all, make me sound like a genius – I’m not entirely sure that they are. Oh, well.

  16. Ben Pratt says:

    As the oldest brother I apparently missed out on a lot of tribute monies. Sheesh!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Not having personally met any of you Bell brothers, I have to say that initially Davis was my favorite because he was the funniest. But now I know what kind of travesties Kook suffered from his hand and therefore Kook has achieved true underdog status.

    And I always root for the underdog!!

  18. Christian says:

    Piggy, I had a vision for your hair that you didn’t share and couldn’t get you to hold still while you were awake. So sue me.

    Ry, the karate lessons happened? I’ve wondered all this time how I have such reflexes. Thank you Davis. Thank you, Sensei.

    Landon, and a happy Shark Week to you as well. Thanks for thinking of me during this celebratory time.

    Layne, well said. Indeed, those are the breaks.

    Braden, it was my only defense. I was like a porcupine surrounded by Hyenas. Is it honorable for a porcupine to use its quills? If the Hyena is biting him then, yes, it’s most honorable.

    Serene, thanks for noticing the Data/cat picture. That pictures makes me giggle whenever I look at it. Especially when I think of Ryan as Data. Funny cause it’s true.

    Gina, I know, right? Can you believe that garbage. Parents get sued for that kind of crap these days.

    Amy, our folks won’t step within 5 miles of commenting on this blog. It’s career suicide.

    Rebecca, yes your loathing all these years has been justified, whether your realized it or not.

    Ben, that’s not going to win you comment of the week, I can tell you that.

    Davis, the GI Joe story ABSOLUTELY is true. The one about ry paying you for his pants that you ruined sounds like myth, but this one and The Price Is Wrong are totally true. But maybe you actually did give us a karate lesson.

    Anonymous (i.e. Davis commenting anonymously), at least you are right about one thing: Kook did suffer travesties. Lots of travesties.

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