Friday, August 9, 2013

Just give Me a Reason (to Throw a Nerf Football at Your Head)

my dad's weapon of choice

Late Tuesday night / early Wednesday morning, I wrote of my experiment I conducted purely in the interest of science, when I played Chopin's Fastasie Impromptu at 12:45 a.m. to see how long it would  take my parents to figure out it was not my brother  Matthew -- from whom they tolerate such rudeness --   but I who was actually the one playing. I'll give them credit, as I think it only took them about eight bars to tell the difference. I thought I had most of the way to the andante cantabile. I'm guesssing, because I have to factor in the amount of time it took my dad to find a nerf football, which he threw from the very top of the stairs directly at the side of my head.  It was a direct hit.

I'm not good at estimating distances, but that particular staircase is long, and he was throwing halfway across the living room as well, and our living room isn't small. I think he hit me right where he intended to, because even a nerf ball can hurt someone if it's thrown hard and hits the person somewhere like right in the eye. He nailed it. Had he been just a bit bulkier (he's 6'1" and weighs in at abut 160, built somewhat like a distance runner) he might had had a career as an NFL quarterback, and our lifestyle might have been a bit more luxurious.   He was actually a four-sport athlete, but spent most of his time time playing tennis. As it is, I can't complain too much, because I live in a nice community and  in a nice home, the nicest part of which is my bedroom and bathroom. Still, we  could've been stinking rich if he'd just eaten a little better and spent more time lifting weights. He also got his mother's thin gene, which didn't help. On the other hand, he could have gotten his father's bulk, but along with it, his father's brains, or lack thereof, and could have turned out to be something like the character of Matilda's dad in the Roald Dahl book that was later a movie. (It's one of the few movies I liked roughly as much as I like the book.  It was well-cast, and the Danny Devito narrations were perfect.)

This is thoroughly off-topic, but when I was younger and loved imagining I had someone other than my own parents as parents, the celebrity couple I had picked out as my ideal parents was Rhea Perlmann and Danny DeVito. Sadly, they split not long ago, and they'd been together for quite some time. I hope things worked out OK for both of them, because they seem like genuinely nice people.

Anyway, back to my impromptu midnight piano concert,  My dad yelled down,  predictably enough, "What the fuck are you doing?" immediately after he had gotten my attention with his football-to-the-head maneuver.

"Matthew does it all the time," I said in reply.

"Matthew also thinks he's been successful if he pisses within a foot of the toilet,"  my dad countered. (This is true. One of the great moments of my life was when we moved to our last house in northern California and I no longer had to share a bathroom with him. To my mother's credit, every day since he was seven years old that  she wasn't  [or isn't] too sick to to deal with it, my mother has walked into his bathroom, and if it fails the sniff test, he has to throughouly scrub the toilet area -- walls, floor, toilet itself -- the works. My parents put a urinal in his current bathroom because he seems to do better with those. Regardless, he's become adept at cleaning bathrooms. If he flunks out of med school, he will make a fine janitor.)

The implication was the same as always. More is expected of me than of Matthew, either because I'm female, or because my mental development isn't that of the Australopithecus afarensis species.  My dad and I sometimes call or refer to my brother as "Lucy." He doesn't remotely get the reference. I think he believes we're talking about Lucille Ball, and he can't understand why we would see any resemblance, physical or otherwise. We don't, obviously, but explaining it to him would be like explaining calculus to a three-month-old. My mom thinks we're mean and that we'll hurt Matthew's self esteem. She's wrong. One of the few things in this world that's safe is Matthew's self esteem.

As I stopped playing piano and headed upstairs to my room, I grabbed the Nerf football and took it with me. I knew I would need it soon, if not the very next night. It turned out that it was the next night I needed it.

At almost precisely 3:00 a.m. I was awakened by what sounded like a two-by-four hitting the keys of the Steinway downstairs, yet miraculously getting the most of the right notes to Pink's most recent hit, ''Just Give Me a Reason," which Matthew seems to love to play now. He finds a different song about once every four weeks and beats it into the ground until the song of the month has the effect of  the proverbial scratching on a chalkboard to everyone who lives here. It's funny, but when he plays in the daytime, he still has a bit of the "lead wrist" effect, but it doesn't sound like he's hittting the piano keys with a sledgehammer. I wonder if  alcohol could be involved. He wasn't driving last night, so it is a possibility.  (I know people can change or lie or break pledges, but Matthew and I are both fairly firmly committed to not driving while under the influence of anything stronger than Kool-Aid, and we both signed notarized agreements before we were given titles to our cars that if we were caught by either our parents or law enforcement officials driving  or having driven in a state of intoxication, we would forfeit ownership of our cars.)

Anyway, I gave my dad about halfway through the song to react. He didn't react, because, in his justification, it was "Lucy" with whom he was dealing.  I got out of bed,  picked up the Nerf football, which I had stored on a shelf in my room even though it was neither pink, black, nor white (it  stuck out like a sore thumb for those twenty-six hours, but the aesthetic irritation was well worth the brief eisode of OCD triggered by it), walked to my parents door, which was open a crack, and went in. (My parents close and lock their door when they need privacy, but ever since the brick and rock went through my window, they've left their door slightly open at night when they're not especially in need to be behind a closed door.) I thrust the Nerf football in my dad's face, waking him up since the  sound of the iron meat tenderizer on the piano keys didn't see to do the job.  "Someone is playing the piano in the middle of the night. It's time for you to throw the football at his head. That's what you do to people who play the piano after you're  asleep. Remember?"

He threw the football back at me and pulled the covers over his head. From under the cover, I heard him mutter, "Throw the damned football at him yourself  if you want. I'm not getting out of bed."

My mother is a lighter sleeper than my dad. She had already heard the piano being axe-murdered to the tune of the lovely Pink song. She just hadn't bothered to do anything about it, as she hadn't when I played the night before, either.  "John," my mother said, "you need to be fair. Just because Alexis doesn't hose down half the bathroom with urine is no reason Matthew should be allowed to play the piano at this hour. And your throw needs to be equally accurate. If  you miss, we'll tell everyone you're losing your touch."

My dad said a few choice curse word as he somehow got himself into an upright position. I handed him the football and followed him to the top of the staircase. "Go back to bed, " he muttered at me.

"I wanna make sure you actually hit him, " I answered. I can now mildly disobey and talk back a bit as long as it's not blatant since I'm eighteen.

I followed my dad to the stairs. He paused momentarily, then fired the Nerf ball, nailing Matthew maybe a bit harder and only slightly higher on his head than he had hit me the previous night.  Considering that he was only half awake, it was impressive.

"What the fuck?" Matthew hollered. The foam rubber blow to his head shook him out of a deep Pink reverie.

"Go to bed, Matthew," my dad said. "You do not come home  and start banging on the piano after every sane person in the house is asleep."

"You never compained before, " Matthew complained. "I thought you liked my piano playing."

"I like it just fine before midnight,"  my dad answered, "but you don't need to be waking people up like this. There are seventeen hours in a day that you can play when no one will complain. I don't want you playing between midnight and 7:00 a.m anymore. Go to bed."

I slipped into my room before Matthew made it up the stairs so he wouldn't suspect I had anything to do with Dad's sudden change of heart regarding Matthew's middle-of-the-night concerts.  It was probably a needless action, though. In his state of inebriation, I doubt that Matthew would literally have been able to put two and two together and come up with four, much less infer that I was in any way responsible for the Nerf football in his head.

Matthew's kindred spirits


  1. LOL... you make your brother sound like he needs help dressing himself. And he wants to be a doctor? Actually, you just gave me an idea for another blog post... which I will write once I've emptied more boxes.

  2. My brother is an interesting cse study. He studies however much he needs to study to learn something, so he's never had a quarter or semester grade below an A, and he'll study however much he needs to in order to get decent MCAT scores, and his verbal skills are exceptional unless he's drunk, and I crtainly hope he won't be drunk in medical school interviews. Additionally, he's calm in a crisis.

    He does, however, lack common sense. My Uncle Michael says his qualities are the earmarks of a neurosurgeon.