Recently, I came across an article entitled "More women in their 40s are having babies." It reminded me of my personal circumstances. My mother gave birth to me when she was in her mid-40s, but this was in the 1960s. My siblings are 27, 20, 15 and 14 years older than I. And please -- I prefer the word surprise. Countless times people have said "So you were a mistake," when they learn my history. My peers always assumed my parents were my grandparents, leading to uncomfortable conversations. My brother and sister, only one year apart, told me they used take me to McDonald's when I was little. At first, they couldn't understand why all the other customers seemed to be staring and whispering about them. Eventually, they realized they were mistaken for teenaged parents.
Thankfully, my oldest brother was ambitious and got two advanced degrees after graduating from college, delaying the start of his own family. Otherwise, I may have been an uncle to those older than me. As it is, I've been an uncle since I was two years old, and I can honestly say that has been the coolest part of my situation. The first to come along was my nephew Joe, and we have had quite a few adventures together.
One of my earliest recollections was at a family wedding. The reception was held at a beautiful estate, complete with stables and an outdoor swimming pool. Joe and I immediately wanted a ride on a horse. Since we were about 6 and 4 years old, they put us both on the same horse. I was in front, Joe behind. I was pretending I was the Lone Ranger, and spurring on Silver in pursuit of bad guys. Joe started to imitate me, but as he was in the back, he was kicking the hind legs. This apparently annoyed the horse, so I asked him to stop kicking. I resumed pretending and so did Joe, and the next thing I knew the horse bucked and Joe was no longer behind me. Good thing kids have rubber bones at that age, and someone verified he was crying from fright instead of the pain of impact. The horse ride was over either way, much to my chagrin.
Later, a beautiful buffet was served outside, and fried chicken was one of the choices. I was a big fan of the chicken leg. It was like meat with a built-in handle. We ate whatever was on our plate and asked to be excused, saving the chicken leg for last. We took them along when we went to check out the swimming pool, walking its perimeter. I stopped at the deep end, spying a large grate or drain or something at the bottom of the pool. Remembering that Joe would imitate whatever I did, I had a devilish idea. I waited until he was distracted and looked the other way and then whipped my arm in a throwing motion, without letting go of the chicken leg. This motion caught Joe's eye, but not his full attention. I held the chicken leg behind my back until he returned his gaze to me.
"Where's your chicken?" he asked.
"I threw it in the pool," I replied. Joe peered into the crystal clear water.
"No you didn't!" he exclaimed.
"You can't see it because it landed on that big dark thing," I said as I indicated the drain.
We went back and forth. I really just wanted to see if I could convince him, but as soon as I did he immediately chucked the chicken into the pool. It made a splash, and all the people seated around the pool stopped eating and talking, first staring at the leg in the pool, and then at us. They didn't use the term "time out" back then, but I had to spend some time alone in a room in the basement. Exploring, I found a giant bowl of M&Ms and steadily consumed them until I was let out of jail.
Now I was on a sugar high, and Joe and I started chasing each other in frenzy, darting in and around wedding guests trying to carry full plates of food. Finally a family member caught us by the edge of the pool, and pointed to all the people seated nearby. From the looks on their faces, they still weren't over the whole chicken leg thing. It was explained that I was disturbing their dinner. I was overheated from running, sweating and feeling ashamed from all the disapproving glances. I vomited spectacularly.
Dinner service ended abruptly, and I found myself back in jail, after they removed the giant bowl of M&Ms.
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