Monday, September 26, 2005

Rack Eyes

Today is my brother's birthday. To honor this day, I'd like to tell a little story.

I was four years old and my brother was three and we were playing hide and go seek in our apartment in the Bronx. We lived in a two family house, with our grandparents living below us.

My mother was worried because she couldn’t find Michael. She thought I might have taken him outside or left the door open and he walked out by himself. If he went downstairs, surely my Grandmother would have called saying that Michael wandered downstairs and he was safe, she had him, and not to worry. But he wasn’t downstairs. I had hid him.

We looked everywhere. My mother’s room, the sewing room, the bathroom. The front porch, the back porch, behind the curtains in the living room and in the playroom. We looked in our bedroom on the top and bottom bunk, underneath the bed and in the closet. He was nowhere to be found.

“Miiichael. Miiiiiiiichael.” She called his name in a sing song tone, but he didn’t answer. Michael knew not to make any noise because when I hid him, I told him to be quiet and at that age, he always listened to me. Besides, when he did speak, no one but I could understand him anyway, so I became an interpreter of sorts. He would say, “Mldyesdk daoe ad codked?” and my mother would want to know what he said. I would translate, “He wants a cookie.” and she’d hand him a cookie. It was like this for years.

We finally made it to the kitchen, where my mother sat me down on the kitchen floor and said calmly, but as if we were playing a fun game,

“Salena. Tell Mommy where Michael is.”

I said, “I don’t know, Mommy.”

“Is he hiding?” she asked.

“Yes.” I said, not volunteering any other information.

At that moment, as we sat there on the kitchen floor, something caught my mother’s eye and she quickly glanced over towards the radiator. Back then, most houses had a radiator. If you were lucky, you had a nice, decorative radiator cover. Ours was built into the kitchen cabinet and had doors on it. The door panels were made of metal, in a lattice design, to disguise the radiator but still let the heat through.

As she looked over toward the radiator, she saw his black eyes staring back at her, peeking through the lattice. That’s where I hid my brother; in the radiator cabinet. When my mother looked back over to me, I knew I’d been found out. So I quickly piped up, “There he is, Mommy!! See his rack eyes??”

We finally pulled Michael free of the radiator, his chubby legs stuck between the pipes. He had a giddy smile on his face, probably laughing inside because he had stayed quiet and had Mommy fooled for so long. He never said a word, even when my mother was questioning me on the kitchen floor, just a few feet away from where he was hiding in the radiator.

Instead, he just sat there silently, never even calling out to reveal his hiding place. That’s so typical of Michael, even to this day. If you don’t ask him something directly, he doesn’t speak up. You can be asking someone else a question, not ever coming up with the answer and then finding out later on that Michael knew the answer all along.

When you then ask him, “Well, how come you didn’t tell me??? You were standing right there.” He will say, “You didn’t ask me" with that same giddy smile on his face, fully aware that he was being quite devilish.Regardless of his antics, he is handsome, charming and funny. He has been a wonderful brother and is now a fantastic husband and doting father, who will begin to dispense with the knowledge and wisdom he has gained over the years, by observing life through those rack eyes.

Happy Birthday Michael!


Twisted Cinderella said...

What a wonderful story! Happy Birthday Michael!

Unknown said...

Great blog! I stumbled across your link via Blurbomat. I'll have to sit down once the kids are settled in for the night and read your archives. I'm a trucker's I can relate to what ya'll go through. I'd love to go out on the road with him a for few weeks, but with 3 young just wouldn't work.

Anocsanamun said...

Happy Bday to a very handsome fellow. Blessed with a brilliant older sister. You need to go one more round for the girl!!! He needs a little girl!

Anonymous said...

wow great story,heart warming ,bla bla bla. i would agree with the other blogmologists, mike is hot.uh ,uh I'll have a mikes hot lemonade. you are a great sister ,daughter and sister in law.Ed is alright too. people love you they just dont say it often enough. i know cause i love you..