In 1983 soda companies started putting expiration dates on their cans and bottles of pop. I once worked with a woman who had drunk half a bottle of Pepsi when she noticed the pop had been expired for a week. I thought she was going to get her stomach pumped. It was as if the pop turned to sulfuric acid the day after it expired.
When I was a kid, we didn’t get to drink much pop. When it was on sale Mom would buy a couple cases and stack it down in the basement for special occasions or when company came over. Sometimes when times weren’t special and people avoided us as if we hadn’t taken our weekly bath, the stack of pop would just sit there. At times the top case would have an inch of dust on it. The bottom cases had hieroglyphics and pictures of King Tut on the labels. (My gradkids would tell you that all pop had hieroglyphics on the labels when I was a kid, but I’m not quite that old.) Occasionally Mom would let us have a can of pop or we would sneak one without her knowing about it. Nobody ever died from drinking it, although my little brother did throw up once. It was a shame after he’d worked so hard to swallow the two grasshoppers and night crawler I’d made him eat, and then he washed it down with the pop and threw up. The second time he did it they stayed down.
For those of you who don’t have a little brother, making them eat things must sound gross, but it’s all a part of what big brothers have to do. Scientists say the reason auto-immune diseases are running rampant is because kids are not exposed to enough germs when they are young, and their immune systems never develop fully. I made my little brother eat so much gross stuff that his immune system laughs at the bubonic plague.
If you don’t own a little brother you should run out and get one. They’re very useful for finding out if a strange dog bites, a creek is too deep to wade across or an electric fence is turned on. There are a few rules you need to follow so you can pick out the right little brother. They need to be at least five years younger than you. Any closer than that and your friends might start to like them, or even worse, they could get bigger than you when they reach their teens, and then you would have to worry about payback.
Once you have your little brother there are all kinds of fun things to do with them. We often played games like Dodge Rock and Can-you-get-out-of-these ropes—I liked to play the version with no time limit. Often that game would turn into How-long-can-you-yell-before-you-become-completely-hoarse. Thirty-seven minutes was his record. Little brothers aren’t all just fun and games. We had our tender moments, too. Often I would tell him the story about when I had two older sisters and one younger sister. One day I went to Mom and asked her if I could have a little brother? Mom said we were poor and couldn’t afford a little brother, so I’d just have to be satisfied with him.
My little brother had a friend named Miles. Miles was mean to my little brother. He would push him down and throw dirt on him. Once I caught him chasing my little brother around trying to hit him with a stick. I ran after Miles and chased him right into his house and told him if he ever picked on my little brother again I’d tie him up and hide him in a place even God couldn’t find. If he wants to be mean to someone, he can get his own little brother.