Monday, October 12, 2009


My older brother William once "got to use crutches." Now I know that it's an unfortunate incident that causes such damage to the human body and normally we should feel pity for someone who injures themselves to that extent, but as I recall, William seized the opportunity they provided. I don't remember how he was injured, but that's beside the point. His crutches were enough to get people's attention. William hobbled around getting more sympathy from family and friends than I got in a lifetime. He was about fifteen or sixteen, and I was ten or eleven.

During the time he was using his crutches we visited our cousins because Mary Ann and Sissy were having a party. Elizabeth, who everyone called Sissy, which I couldn't understand because she was certainly no sissy and Elizabeth is such a beautiful name so why change it or allow anyone to call you by the name Sissy is beyond me. Elizabeth had invited a bunch of her teenage girl friends over, and though they were all too old for me, it didn't prevent me from dreaming. I was dreaming away when who shows up? William.

William comes hobbling into the room and all the girls' eyes turned to him. Seconds later they were all over him, asking if he needed anything, did it hurt, was he in pain, how did it happen, how long had he been suffering, and generally making a big fuss over him. I was really impressed with this obvious display of the power of sympathy.

Then someone started playing Elvis or Ricky Nelson or Pat Boone. A few brave teenagers started dancing, and William was slowly coaxed into gingerly stepping onto the dance floor. He managed to shed his emcumbrances and slow dance a little. Then a fast song started up, and William began to move a little. Suddenly, William could sense all eyes on him, and he sprang into action and started boogying and shimmying. The girls oohed and ahhed and giggled and William could feel all female eyes on him. That wasn't enough, though. He grabbed one girl and set to tearin' up the dance floor. There wasn't room for anyone else, just him and that girl. They both got to rockin' 'n rollin' and covering the whole dance floor together. It was about that time I saw through William's little charade.

It was also about that time that my Aunt Marian came into the room. Now I was thinking what she was thinking long before she did, because I was thinking it before she came into the room, but I have to hand it to her for saying it so quickly and decisively, without hesitation. It just came barreling out of her mouth.

"William, I think it's time you got rid of those crutches. It's pretty obvious all they're good for is a little sympathy. They sure aren't slowing you down any!"

As I recall, William didn't get rid of those crutches too quickly. He carted them around under his arms quite awhile longer, and I wonder sometimes, if he still misses those suckers.

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