They Said …


First, this story doesn’t have anything to do with politics. I don’t write about politics — and for good reasons. It’s not funny and just makes folks mad. None of the examples below are things a politician has promised to do or not done. After all, I do have a word limit and writing about such things would put me way over it.

Second, this story isn’t about “those people” who tell us to take or not take the Covid vaccination. Even though, unfortunately, I’m now somewhat of an expert on the subject. After getting all the shots and boosters, I currently have it for the second time in less than a year.

And I promise you, I also can’t find anything funny to write about it — unless, of course, you think my getting dizzy and falling down the steps (which I did this morning) is funny.

But have no worries, Dear Reader, even if you’re not vaccinated, you won’t get sick by reading this story. (At least I don’t think so. Still waiting on a call-back from the CDC to be 100% sure.)

So, if this story isn’t about politicians, Covid, or the CDC, then who are “They”?

“They” lived with me a long, long time ago on that old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo — in a house with the number 110 on the mailbox at the end of a long driveway.

During those seven years we spent growing up on Flamingo, I believed just about anything my Older Brother Richard or Big Brother James said. After all, if you can’t believe your older brothers, whom can you?

Below is just a short list of things “They” asked me to do. But before you continue, here is a warning: don’t try to reproduce any of the examples below. If you do, it will end very painfully. Trust me, I’ve got the scars to prove it.

“Eat a little poison ivy in the spring, then you won’t get it the rest of the year. You can even roll around in it, and not be itchy.” To the adult me, this is ridiculous, but to the seven-year-old me, it sounded perfectly logical, especially since it came from my older brothers.

With Richard and James looking on, I ate a pinch of poison ivy, waited a couple of hours, then rolled around in a big bed of the green stuff. Not only did I get a tummy ache, but I swelled up like a big pink marshmallow, itching from head to toe for over two weeks. But that wasn’t the only thing they told me to do during our childhood that turned out badly.

“Hold this really tight. It’ll be fun,” Big Brother James said this gem to me one raining afternoon while we were playing cowboys in the living room. I held onto the reins of a wild horse as it bucked wildly. In reality, I was handed the frayed end of an electrical cord as then they pulled, tugged, and dragged me over to the nearest wall socket so they could plug it in. The ensuing shock left my arm numb for hours.

I learned two things from that incident. First, don’t hold onto anything your brothers hand you. Second, when your arm is numb for hours, your brothers will go into your room and take all your stuff and there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

Older Brother Richard told me many things to do while we were growing up back on Flamingo. And I believed him each time because, well, he was the oldest of us all. For example, “Jump up just before the elevator comes to a stop, and you can float in the air.” To me, this seemed very logical, and I wanted to float, so I tried it.

Nope, I didn’t float. But I did hit my head on the ceiling of the elevator as it came to a stop, then crashed to the floor in a crumpled mass as my brothers were laughing at me.

Richard also said, “You can jump out of the tree house, and just as your feet touch the ground, tuck and roll so you won’t get hurt.” Again, this sounded logical. And I wasn’t seven anymore, I was eight and knew much more. So, the next time we were up in our tree house, I jumped. Plunging to the ground, I thought I was going to tuck, roll and not get hurt — just like Richard had said.

Nope. After waking up on the ground, I realized he was wrong again.

“Mom and Dad won’t find out.” “Don’t worry.” “It’s okay; just hold on tight.” “We tested it; it will work.” Or the one statement that was repeated more than any other, “Go ahead. You’ll be safe. No one’s gonna get hurt.” My brothers asked me to trust them on all of these while we were growing up on Flamingo Street.

All turned out to be false.

It’s been a lifetime since we lived on Flamingo, and my brothers are no longer trying to get me to do things that are false, are dangerous, or don’t work. But there are other things that I have heard, read, or tried that reality has eventually proven them wrong. And some of those results are even more painful than those from my childhood.

Unfortunately, those stories will have to wait. Now, it’s time for me to take another handful of pills. After all, “They” said taking six pills a day for five days will help to make the Covid go away.

If I’m here next week, guess “They” were right. If not, I guess someone else will have to tell them “They” were wrong.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories weekly in The Citizen since 2001.]