Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blakely Sutton Dennard and me (Part I)

My big brother turns 40 this weekend and I can’t think of a better thing to do than put some of his quirks, shenanigans and greatness into print. It has become my longest post to date, so I will post “Part II” on Saturday, his actual birthday. Oh my heavens. No one can fully understand the task which is before me. Blake gives the word "unique" a whole new meaning. He's sort of like a filet mignon spread with peanut butter and jelly on white bread (Is there any other kind, he would ask?)- a little class, a good bit of fun, and a lot of "good ol' boy". He is two and a half years older than I am and until I got married, I think, in some form or fashion, he reminded me of that everyday. He manipulated his authority to his advantage on every occasion whether it be to sit in the front seat, to decide what to watch on TV, or to simply boss me around. Come to think of it, this hasn’t changed at all.

My first memories of Blake are, at best, vague but are set in a little red house with a sunken den in Soperton, Georgia, a sweet small town that I wouldn’t change a bit. The most traumatic memory comes to focus around the yellow and red wrapper of a Sugar Daddy. Do you remember those little oblong cards that used to come in the candy? Some had animals, flags or race cars on them. For some odd reason, at the age of 3, I REALLY wanted his card. However, he was not willing to part with it, unless, of course, I let him cut my long hair. Makes sense, right? At 3, it sounded completely reasonable. So, Blake played barber and I had a new Sugar Daddy card. Other memories that weren’t quite so distressing are playing with Weeble Wobbles on the wood floor in some room, both of us being afraid of the dark, seeing a hole in the sheet rock in Blake’s room created by a swift kick of his and that’s about it.

(Post-haircut hair)

We did most of our growing up in the country just a mile or so from the heart (or the red light) of downtown Soperton. Here is where we had our biggest blowouts- really, knock down drag outs, wrestling, pinching, hair pulling, biting complete with blood, bruises and tears - THOSE kind of blowouts, but thankfully, it is also where we became what brothers and sisters should be. Unfortunately, that took a while. Blake had a knack for aggravating me until I thought I would either hide in a dark closet, curl into a fetal position and rock myself or kick him in the you know where. I usually just cried instead of resorting to the first and if I chose the second, HE cried and ……….well, that is why I can run so fast.

Since we didn’t live in a neighborhood, we played mostly with each other. Some days this went great and some days.......... well, let's just say, I improved my sprinting skills. We covered every square inch of the woods and fields that surrounded our home, dodging poison ivy and cow patties. Much to our irritation, we were not always successful at that. Whether it was in our woods or on a Boy Scout camping trip, Blake contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tic. It seemed he was in the hospital forever. I don’t remember all of this very well, but I do remember it being a BIG deal and that I missed him something awful. Someone came up with the sweet idea of tape recording messages to each other and that is what we did. His tapes to me brought some much needed excitement and encouragement to our seemingly empty and VERY quiet house. I would give up my Sugar Daddy card collection to hear those tapes again.
(Note who has the BIGGER and BETTER gun AND the flag. And look, I am happy about it!)

We rode bicycles and then graduated to dirt bikes. When The Dukes of Hazzard were on primetime, we had more crashes than I can count. Some still make me flinch and thank God that we are both still alive. (My kids will never have anything with a motor—or with that switch that makes it easier to crank and causes the thing to not respond to brakes. I learned to aim for an azalea bush and not a pine tree.) We learned early to steer clear of games of any kind. We are both competitive and neither one of us handled losing to the other very well. I have to say, NO ONE, not even Jeff, enjoys winning as much as Blake Dennard does and NO ONE can celebrate a win quite like him. It is up close and personal, if you know what I mean. It only increases his euphoric state to know that you are feeling the salt he is so happily working into your wound of loss. What if he doesn’t win, you ask? Well, that just doesn’t happen.

As we got older, our play was considerably calmer and our relationship changed quite a bit. It is almost as if one day he decided to take his big brother “job” seriously. From time to time, he still wanted to pay me to pull off his cleats or something like that after some practice or fix his lazy self something to drink but mostly, I didn’t mind. Now, I DID mind him eating every last cinnamon roll for breakfast before school. This happened only a couple of times because after that, I learned to get ready faster.

Of course, we still had our moments of complete frustration but at the end of the day, all was well in our home upstairs. When “bedtime” rolled around, many nights he would come in and sprawl his stocky frame across the bottom of my bed and talk. Those were some of my favorite times. Mom says some nights as she would be turning out lights downstairs before going to bed, she would see all of our lights shining upstairs. She would come up and find us both asleep- me on my pillow and Blake, still, across the foot of my bed.

(Blake, I will post the rest of this on Saturday when you turn the big 4-0! I know you won’t be able to sleep tonight wondering if I am really going to mention………………….)


Anonymous said...

Thanx. I laughed, cried, smiled and just sat here thinking of things you mentioned and left out. A neat gift. I love u . bsd

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

I'm glad to get to know this bsd fella. Such a sweet relationship y'all have. And that's a great cliff hanger!

nikki said...

priceless- i feel like i grew up right along with you---you're descriptions were so perfect!

Kathie said...

What great memories. I love the pictures of you two when you were kids. Really cute. Kathie