September 7, 2014
Being fifteen years my junior, the little brother has always been curious about how I spent those ante-Misha years with our older brother: Did we have fights? Did we get along? What games did we play? Was I bullied? I had to tell him the truth.
Mario was skilled in making paper airplanes. His origami airplanes could fly in spirals and land smoothly on our floor. He could transform one pad of paper into an entire fleet. He also had another skill. He memorized the flags of at least fifty countries. Merging these two skills together, he would meticulously color the flags on to the wings of the airplanes.
But of course, nobody’s perfect, so he’d also have rejects – planes that would abruptly do nosedives in the middle of an ascent, and he also had favorites when it came to countries.
I was 4, he was nearing 6, and paper airplanes are boring to little boys unless they are engaged in battle! He would then color the flags of the World War II Allied forces (his favorite countries) on to his best planes, and brand the rejects with swastikas and flags of the Axis powers.
It was my job to fly the rejects to their doom. But that’s not all! In between flights, he would challenge my knowledge and ask if I knew what NATO stood for, “Beh, beh… unsa man kuno?” I always ended up shrugging my 4-year-old shoulders. I was only good in picking flowers at that age. He would then school me about terrifying terms like “kamikaze” or “harakiri” and other horrifying acronyms, MAFIA, KGB, etc. (Morte Alla Francia Italia Anela has stuck with me up to this day – death to the French is Italy’s cry, but I still have to Google KGB every single time.)
A couple of years later, in the wake of the Gulf War, we were still playing these games and it was Operation Desert Storm time! His planes had flags of the United States imprinted on them and… you guessed it! I flew the Iraqi planes.
Failure to comply would have led to beheading by cake spatula. Yes, I was bullied. 😛