My sister Mary and I are playing cops and robbers in the dining room as usual.
We play it every night. Mary is always the cop. I’m always the robber. I’m always caught. I’m always guilty. I’m always tortured. I’m the youngest of five. I know my role. She sentences me to death in the green couch electric chair and binds my ankles and wrists together with Mom’s best dishcloths. While doing the electrocution hop into the living room I stumble. My chin splits open when it kisses the edge of the couch. Blood spurts. Mary screams and leaves me there bound in my mother’s best dishtowels. “Mom, Regi needs you,” she cries before running away. Mom comes in, sighs, rolls her eyes and says, “Oh, for God’s sake.”
When she unbinds me I beg her, “Are you gonna apply the butterfly bandage, Mommy? Are ya?” My mother gets a twinkle in her eye. My father isn’t home and she is free to take me to the doctor rather than apply the homemade butterfly bandage he insists on when any of us kids gets hurt.
“Oh no, baby,” she coos. “Only Daddy can apply the butterfly bandage properly. I’m afraid Mommy is going to have to take you to the doctor’s.”
“To the doctor’s” reverberates throughout the entire household. Mom disappears to call Doctor Heady in the kitchen and my siblings scramble down the stairs and form a sibling circle of menace around me.
“You spoiled brat! You’re goin’ to the doctor’s,” they hurl their scorn at me.
“I know I am but what are you?” I taunt. Score!
My mother emerges from the kitchen with a dry washcloth in her hand and tells me, “Let’s go.” Then she goes out the front door and waits for me on the porch.
My brothers and sisters line up in a birth order gauntlet at the door. As I glide by them they hiss, “We. Hate. You.” “I’m goin’ to the doctor’s,” I sing and stick out my tongue at them.
When I come home from the doctor’s with six stitches and a lollipop they welcome me back with open arms. The sibling circle of menace changes into a sibling circle of admiration as they count the stitches. I’m a Carpenter kid and I’ve got the scars to prove it.