Those of you who are familiar with this blog know that my younger brother is The Buddha. He was my “little” brother until he surpassed me in height. There were very few girls in our family. I had two younger brothers and scads of younger boy cousins. I never let anyone kiss me or pinch my cheeks, but I was always conniving to kiss The Buddha and all the cute baby cousins as soon as they got born. They tolerated it for a while, then rebelled. But I was bigger and stronger and, as The Buddha once complained to a friend, “She kissed my cheeks until they were prune.” The older he got, the harder it was to get my claws on those succulent cheeks. He was at the height of his adorability when he was five and I was 10 and that’s when I brought out the big guns.
My parents didn’t drink alcohol very often, but every Christmas Eve we had a huge party for relatives and close friends. Wine was served. I never tasted it but knew that if you drank liquor it made you something called “drunk” and it messed with your judgment, rendering you pliable. I formulated my evil plan during Christmas Eve, 1967 and when my parents were occupied with conversation, I walked The Buddha around our 6-room apartment giving him leftover wine to drink from all the glasses I could find. It didn’t amount to much, but when we had reached the kitchen at the back of the apartment, I informed him, “Now you’re drunk and you have to let me kiss you 50 times.” To my delight, he said flatly, “OK.” So I got in my 50 kisses.
Many years later I told him I was sorry for all the torture and those 50 kisses on Christmas Eve, 1967. “I wasn’t really drunk,” he admitted, “I just wanted to get it over with.”