Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Bigger They Are, The Taller I grow...

Guess what? My big sister just got bigger. Wait a minute, that didn’t sound right. I intended to state that my older sister just got older. At any rate, Ann just had a birthday and I wanted to wish her a “Happy Birthday.” I wonder what it’s like to be 77 years old. I’ll have to wait four years to find out. That’s right. She is four years older than I am.

You know, big sisters have a reputation for being tough on little brothers. And big sisters never have their day in court. They just go through life being big sisters and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

I found out about big sisters early on. When I was only four years old, Ann would threaten me. She told me that if I wasn’t good, she would call Santa Claus and tell him everything bad I ever did. When I got a little older, she switched off to telling me she was going to call the police. I lived in terror over my poor relationship with Santa Claus and I hid out whenever the police were on their way.

Another thing about big sisters is that they can always win arguments. This is really frustrating. How do they do that? I’ll tell you. When the sibling fuss goes on long enough, a big sister finally will blurt out with, “I’m older than you are so I know more than you do.” There really is not a valid reply to that claim because indeed, a big sister is older. And according to Ann, that makes a big sister wiser. Whatever.

I figured out a couple of ways to combat this little brother syndrome. My first plan of attack already has been accomplished. The second plan is a work in process. What are these two plans?

The first plan for a little brother is that he can eat his spinach and grow taller than his big sister. Once you’re taller than your big sister, she will tend to back down more often. That is because, as time goes by, unknowingly she develops an innate fear of threatening anyone who is taller than she is. Little brothers can get lots of mileage out of this angle when played right. By the time I was in junior high school, I was taller than Ann. This helped a bunch.

The second plan of attack is to catch up with an older sister’s age so that she will no longer be older. Now how is this accomplished? I’ll give you examples:

The day I was born, Ann was 4 years old or 100% older than me.

When I reached 2 years of age, Ann was 6 years old. Then I was 33% her age.

When I reached 3 years of age, she was 7 years old. That made me 43% of her age.

When I reached 10 years of age, Ann was 14. Then I was 71% as old as she.

Now that I am 73 years old and she is 77 years old, I am 95% her age.

Do you see how I am catching up? If I can figure out a way to live 300 years, I will catch up with her. Then we can tell people that we are twins.

All of this sounds a little far fetched doesn’t it? But little brothers can end up winning. All it takes is a little imagination.

Anyway, Ann, I just wanted to say “Happy Birthday. I wouldn’t trade you for all the big sisters in the world.”

You know, Ann is a beautiful Christian lady and I love her dearly.

Can’t you tell?

Winston Hamby

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nearly But Not Entirely...

The dictionary defines “almost” as, “… very nearly but not exactly or entirely.” I am glad the English language has that word. For example, “I almost went to town,” is a simple and somewhat common expression. Without the word “almost,” we would have to say “I very nearly but not exactly or entirely went to town.” This almost brings me to my topic.

Many things almost happen in our lives while other things almost do not happen. Following are ten things in my life that I almost did but did not quite do:

• I almost was bitten by a copperhead snake in 1939, when I was four years old and living in Nederland. I was playing in a vacant lot next to our house and found an old coffee can. Inside the can was a little brown snake with an orange head sticking his tongue out at me. I yelled out for my mother and she hurried over with the intention of killing the snake but it slithered away, escaping her wrath.

• I almost drowned in the Beaumont Downtown Y. M. C. A. swimming pool in 1947. I tried to swim across the pool in the deep end. I had to let down and the water was 8 feet deep. Someone saw me struggling and helped me to safety.

• I almost was bitten by a water moccasin snake out at Twin Lakes south of Beaumont in 1952. Harold Bynum and I were walking on a path by the water. The snake did not appreciate the fact that I stepped on him. But he escaped safely and so did I.

• I almost received a blast in the back of my head from a Mossburg 20 Gauge Shotgun in 1952. Dick York and I were hunting north of Beaumont near Pine Island Bayou. There was a lot of underbrush. I was leading the way with a machete chopping vines and grass. Suddenly a gust of wind followed by a deafening explosion whizzed just over my head. The blast passed so close to my head that it combed my hair forward. Dick, who was coming along behind me with his 20 gauge said that he wondered if his safety was on so he pulled the trigger to find out.

• I earned my accounting degree from college in 1957 with plans to be an accountant. The only problem was I did not like accounting so I joined the army.

• I almost crashed while piloting a single-engine airplane near Jefferson County Airport in 1962. While approaching the runway to land, the craft suddenly was caught in a downdraft. I added power but to no avail. Fortunately, I reached the end of the runway and landed safely. I believe a heavier aircraft would have crashed short of the runway. This was my first experience with wind shear.

• I almost spent the night in the Big Thicket north of Beaumont in 1962. I went hunting and got lost wandering around in the woods. Fortunately I found my way out just before nightfall.

• I almost made my career in the Army Band but I married the girl of my dreams and she did not want to be a military wife. So that settled that.

• I almost was bitten by a rattlesnake while walking in the woods near Newton, Texas, in 1985. I thought the snake was a bull snake but Jefferson County Deputy Ernie Harrell, who was with me stomped the snake in the head with his cowboy boot, then showed me the rattles. That shook me up.

• I almost thought of ten things that I almost did but did not quite do.

But I could only think of nine.

Winston Hamby