My brother and I had a contentious relationship as older sisters and younger brothers often do. My brother went through a time period where he seemed to be getting in trouble for something or other. I just smiled sanctimoniously through the whole thing .
He started to sink down a little into himself, hunch over a bit and slouch around with his hands in his pockets. My father would always tell him to stand up straight and "stop walking around with your hands in your pockets. You're going to fall down and break your arms." For some reason we always found that really funny, as children do, with the image of some cartoon character falling and not being able to get their hands out of their pockets fast enough to break their fall.
We did some real things though that had we been less monkey-like or any dumber, would have probably caused instant death, or at least severe maiming. We used to run along the outside of this bridge that went over a creek by our house. We used to ride our bikes really fast down the middle of a street with a blind curve. We climbed trees, started campfires in the woods, tried to catch lightening, and played with rusty nails. We would swing on the vines that hung from the old trees out over the ravine. At its highest point it was probably about a 30 foot drop.
I forget how we got caught swinging on the vines but man oh man did we get in trouble. We were absolutely forbidden to ever swing on those vines again. That stunk because they were really fun. But we heeded and stopped doing it. Someone struck the fear of lying crushed at the bottom of the ravine enough to make us stop.
So we're growing up and being taught how to act like adults and learning the ways of the world. My brother is still getting in trouble at school and elsewhere. I'm still being a bossy older sister and my younger sister is still being the family peacekeeper. My brother had some more problems at school and began slouching again. This drove my father nuts! He kept reprimanding my brother to stop walking around with his hands in his pockets and stand up straight.
One day my brother comes into the house and he's crying with his two thin arms out in front of him, his hands dangling at his limp wrists. My mom rushes to him and asks what's wrong and he shows her his wrists. She asks if he can move them and I, being the big helpful older sister, take one of his hands and move it up and down and announce "he's fine; if it was broken he wouldn't be able to move it." My mom took him to the emergency room. When they came home he had splints on his wrists - he'd broken bones.
After my father came home and heard the whole story, and realizing that my brother wasn't really in pain any more (the danger was over) he leaned in for the question: were you walking with your hands in your pockets? while nodding, knowingly.
I honestly don't remember if my brother answered or not (maybe he can fill that in) but for the next 20 years we always thought that was the funniest thing ever. First that my father would warn him not to walk around with his hands in his pockets because he would fall and break his wrists, and finally because it really happened!
A couple of years ago we're all sitting down to a rare 'entire family in one place' Thanksgiving dinner and we're telling stories about how bad we were as kids. My mom is sighing and my dad is chiming in with how bad, oh yes, we were. One of us brings up my brother and the story of him falling with his hands in his pockets after all the warnings.
He just stopped, rolled his eyes, and said something to the effect of: "I wasn't walking with my hands in my pockets you idiots! I was swinging on the vines and it broke and I fell. I didn't want to get in trouble for swinging on the vines."
It took a minute to sink in. What?!!?! for 20 years he let us think he was a fool (in a nice way of course) for walking around with his hands in his pockets and making our father's silly prediction be vindicated, rather than tell us the truth! I still find that so funny to this day….