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 Texas : Features : Columns : "The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything"
Finger Lickiní Good
by Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
It must be awfully hard to be the youngest child. I have been missing my brother who moved recently to Arizona, and that has made me remember all kinds of things about growing up with him. I was seven when he was born and after he got over the wrinkly, red, delicate stage I thought that my mother had provided me with the best doll in the whole world. I adored him!

As he grew into his toddlerhood and began to show more personality he became a little annoying sometimes. But if he got too annoying my sister and I would tell him we were playing zoo and he was the lion. We would have him crawl under the crib and then we would drop the side rail all the way down. Voile! Lion cage! He could be counted upon to crawl restlessly back and forth under his crib growling fiercely for as long as thirty minutes at a time before curling up and taking a king of the jungle nap. Once we lost him. Where was Eric? My sister and I, more frightened that we would get in trouble than that something had happened to our only little brother, searched high and low. No luck. Finally and at last, we knew we couldnít delay any longer. We told my mom and dad. They didnít give a thought to us, but began searching everywhere for little Eric. He was found at last curled up and sleeping sweetly in a kitchen cabinet behind the pans. How they ever thought to look there, I will never know. The happiest part about it was that my parents were so amused by this baby cuteness and the relief of finding him that they never wondered how we lost him in the first place.

Eric, the platinum blonde, blue eyed dolly baby kept on growing. Pretty soon he wasnít a sweet baby anymore, but was a strong chunky six year old and a stone around our necks. We were out in the country one summer, out in the mountains in New Mexico, hiking around. We werenít trying to lose Eric, we were a little smarter than that, but we werenít making any concessions to his shorter legs. "Look at these cow patties Liz. Mama Mia, Papa Pia, those old cows had diarrhea!" My sister, for once in her life, was right. Those dry cow patties were thin and crispy looking. "Hey Mary, they kind of look like those crunchy cinnamon things Dad brings home sometimes."

I looked at Mary. Mary looked at me. We enjoyed a moment of complete telepathic agreement. We were on exactly the same wavelength. "Hey Eric! Come here and look what we have for you!"

No! You gasp. No you didnít! Well we almost did. We stopped him, with difficulty, before he actually got it in his mouth. After talking fast and hard to convince him that it really was a pastry, we had to talk twice as fast to convince him that it wasnít. And we each got a slug for our effort, which we took with good grace. It was worth it.

I donít know if it was later that afternoon, or another day, but eventually we were back at camp messing with the campfire. I threw a gourd into the flames and we watched with interest as it began to brown and sizzle. It almost looked delicious. I looked at Mary. Mary looked at me. We shared another moment. "Hey Eric! Look what weíve got!"

"No, Liz! Donít give him any! Never mind Eric, go play." My sister Mary was an evil genius. "But Mary," said I, so sweetly, "itís so delicious! Let him have just a little taste. Iíll tell Mom if you donít."

Good Cop/Bad Cop. The Sisters Malevolent. I generously handed Eric a piece of deliciously toasted gourd. He bit into it. "Mmmm," he said, "Not bad. Are we having these for supper?" And then he ambled off, back to whatever boy thing he had been doing. My sister and I looked at each other, surprised. Well, that backfired. But we were evidently genius cooks. We each took a big hunk of gourd and bit into it.

And spat. It was the most bitter, most horrible, most poison tasting thing I had ever had in my mouth in my life. It was so bitter that it burned! Guess we were paid back. With interest. We had a whole new respect for pretty little Eric, Evil Genius and Master of Deadpan in his own right. We swore to get him back, but he had gained a little glamour in our eyes and we had a new respect for him.
© Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
"The Girl Detective's Theory of Everything" - September 1, 2005 Column
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