Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sibling Wars or The Arrow of My Ways

I was eight, so what could you expect.

I think it all started after I saw a Robin Hood movie. I'd decided then and there I wanted a bow and arrow…well, several arrows. Such a thing had great potential in my world then. But I was only five at the time, and, fortunately, my parents decided I shouldn't have a bow and arrow(s) until I became more mature and responsible…like, say, eight.

It didn't come automatically, though. I had to work on them long and hard to convince them I could handle it. My sister, Lynn, my main adversary at the time, argued just as vehemently against them arming me with such weaponry. At two years my senior, she could pretty much beat the stuffing out of me anytime she chose…and did; however, we had sort of a d├ętente. She used her superior physical prowess to subdue my more infuriating little brother pestitudes, and I used the back of our mother's skirts to ward off her short range strikes. She and I both realized my getting archery armaments would give me long range capability, and thereby seriously skew the balance of power.

But I persisted. I would only, I assured the rulers, use such a thing for peaceful purposes. I would only aim at paper targets mounted on cardboard boxes. Why, it never entered my mind to shoot arrows at my sister, I told them. Why they believed me, I still don't understand to this day, given my short history filled with Ahmadinejadian-like behavior (who, incidentally, hadn't even been born yet), and my penchant for tormenting my sister.

So on my eighth birthday, my parents gave me a working bow about five feet in length and a quiver with five arrows. And to my credit, I vowed to keep the terms of the agreement, the main article being that I wouldn't shoot any living thing up to, and including, my sister. Truth is, the system was fairly harmless. The arrows were wooden, but blunted on the business end, and the bow wasn't big enough, nor me strong enough, to generate much velocity from it. Still, it could deliver a smartful bruise from a range of up to fifty feet. I more or less proved that when I promptly shot my dog.

It was purely an accident during a target practice session. I'd set up a cardboard box in front of an old quilt draped over a clothesline, and Heidi was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She was a dachshund, a.k.a. wiener dog, sauntering by down range on her way back from reconnoitering the chicken yard (she was a serial chicken killer, but that's a whole other post) when I let fly a bolt which over-shot the hanging quilt backstop, and tagged the hound broadside. I didn't actually see the strike, but heard its result when the dog yiped hurtfully. I dropped my bow and ran to the dog's side, expecting to see her skewered like a Sherwood Forest hart, but the arrow lay beside her, not through her. And she readily forgave me by licking me about the face when I knelt beside her to apologize.

The lesson I learned from that childhood experience was that dogs are much more forgiving than parents when you screw up. Mom gave me the benefit of the doubt, and refrained from dealing out my usual smack on the butt; however, she did confiscate the bow, putting it away in the evidence closet indefinitely with all the rest of my stuff.

I also learned that rival siblings can derive a lot of joy and satisfaction from seeing their opponents receive a parental takedown.

And I plotted my next campaign.


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