My brother Kent is a year and a half older than I am. We have the same sense of humor, so there were a lot of laughs when we were little, but he also tortured me! He would hide on me, jump out and scare me. In my recollection, it was every day, multiple times a day (it probably wasn't), and every single time, I would burst into tears, and run off crying.
In those days, you had one TV and you would wait for your show to come on each week. I would be on the couch, because "Man from U.N.C.L.E." was about to come on, and I was gonna get to see it. My brother would come in and change the channel, just because he could.
He'd say, "You can either get punched, or leave... but you're not gonna watch your show."
When I was 14, I was reading a comic strip in the kitchen when my brother Kent and his friend Jimmy come through. Jimmy stops for a moment and we talk about something in the funnies and have a laugh.
As they're walking out, Jimmy says, "You know Kent, your sister's okay."
And my brother says, "What?"
He says, "No, really. She's okay." And that was the last time my brother and I ever fought, to this day.
We've got each other's back, we're super close; everything is great.
But about two years later, I'm 16 and the movie, The Exorcist comes out. I had read the book the year before. One night I'm home, and I'm getting ready for bed, wearing these pajamas -- I don't know if anybody has them anymore. They're like bloomers with a nightie over them? My brother comes into my room.
He says, "I swear to god, you tell anybody this, I will kill you...."
He says, "We saw, The Exorcist tonight, and I am scared shitless. I'm not sleeping in my room. I'm sleeping in your other bed."
In that moment, I felt everything fall into place.
Now, another piece of this story is that I have something called dermatographia. It just means you have a lot of histamine in your body, and you can write on your body. So you could take a toothpick and do a paisley pattern, and it would show up three minutes later as a bright red welt, very well-defined, against your skin.
So I say, "Fine, whatever, but I'm going to sleep now."
The two beds in my room are perpendicular to each other.
We turn off the lights, and I wait a couple minutes. I had put a bobby pin next to my bed. I raise up my nightgown and write, "HELP ME" on my stomach.
I wait for another three or four minutes in the dark. I can hear his breathing getting fairly regular, and I start to make guttural, possessed noises.
You know the sound a June bug makes when it's bouncing off the screen and the wall and the light?That's the sound he made batting around in the darkness of my room trying to find the light switch. He bangs into my desk, he bangs against the other wall, he finally hits the light switch, and he says, "Damn it, this is not funny!"
I say, "Kent, I don't know what's wrong. Everything feels so weird. I don't know what's happening to me!"
He's looking at me, and I raise up my nightgown to show my stomach. There on my skin, in raised letters it says, "HELP ME!"
I look at his face and he's white as a ghost.
I'm 58, and this was like, the best moment of my life to date.
Finally I said, "For the last two years we've been great. But for the first 14 years, are we even?"
And we were. We were even forever.
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