|This is why I never eat cereal.|
I am now thirty years old, and looking back on my younger days I have come onto two realizations. One, that I am now old enough to even warrant using the phrase "my younger days" and Two, that I was not a particularly good brother to have. In fact, I was probably the Worst Brother ever. I have two siblings (and two step-siblings that came along much much later in life, when I was already an adult). A sister, two years my senior, and a brother, five years my junior.
My sister, by way of being older, more physically impressive, and more socially graceful than myself (all of which is still true today) managed to escape most of my terrorizing. My brother, on the other hand, was five years younger than me and sized perfectly for tormenting. Couple this with a younger brother's adoring trust of his elder sibling and an innocent, trusting view of the world, and you had a perfect storm of what it takes to be a perfect target.
My grandmother had a rabbit farm at the time, home to more than 500 of the creatures being sold for snake-food and pets over the Northern Florida region. It was our duty, as good grandchildren, to assist on the farm once a week. The weekend visits to "Granny Rabbit's House" were sacred, inviolate. You could more easily miss a Sunday at church than miss a visit to Granny Rabbit's.
It usually fell to my sister and I to tend to the beasts, a task that was not as hard as it was tedious. Changing the water in their bottles (made ingeniously out of discarded glass sprite bottles by my grandfather) and adding food to their trays. Do this down 10 rows of rabbits until you are tired and had a growing hatred of Bugs Bunny and you could come close to what we experienced.
Maybe you have never really been up close and personal to a rabbit. They are quite cute, up to the point where they scratch and bite at you for putting your hand in their cage, or try to pick them up. They also produce a prodigious amount of poop. Rabbit poop is amazing stuff. The beasts evacuate their bowels in these perfectly shaped little pellets that look almost, but not quite, like cocoa-puff cereal in miniature. Five hundred rabbits eating their weight in rabbit food everyday produce an immense amount of poop, which through the cunning design of my grandfather's cage design - fell onto the floor to be scooped up and sold as fertilizer at a later time.
Perhaps you see where this is going. It was a rare day, Jack was finally deemed old enough to help out on the farm - instead of just tagging alongside our mother's apron strings, he was to go with me to tend to the rabbits. Finally, a chance to have some fun.
"Jack, I'm your older brother, right?"
"Yeah, Dan, you know that."
"And I'm smarter than you, because I can write and do math and read books."
"Mom says I'm smart!"
"But don't you want to be... you know, smarter?"
"I guess so."
"If you don't tell mom, I'll show you how we got so smart."
It was too easy, I had pocketed some of the pellets from my earlier rounds - and no worries, my pocket was easily dirtier than rabbit poop, if anything the pellets probably cleaned my pocket somewhat. I offered him the things, telling him that they were "Smart Pellets" and that all the kids that were old enough ate three of them a day. He ate them.
Sure, there was hell to pay later, but my satisfaction was so great that I barely even noticed the punishment - I still don't recall what it was to this day - but I DO remember how his pretty, trusting eyes looked at me with such hope as his teeth sunk into that first bite. Priceless. I'm the worst brother Ever.