Personally, I blame the etch-a-sketch.
It was in the cupola, the small room that sits on top of the house that served as a bedroom for Mark and me. Not much room up there, just enough space for two cots and a dresser.
Mark and I were sitting on one of those cots, having a reasoned discussion over the current ownership of the etch-a-sketch – us both being reasonable young children. Somehow the reasonable discussion ended with Mark’s head being reasonable propelled through a window.
Now breaking things that required money to fix was a no-no in our household; so we weren’t worried so much about Mark’s head as the window – knowing full well that both our heads would roll when the window breakage was discovered.
But the cupola had advantages; the biggest being the narrow stairs that led up to the room. Our parents rarely, if ever, made the journey up those stairs.
So our solution to the problem was to ignore it, and hope that the window repair elves would magically show up one night.
Months passed; no elves. On cold nights, a sleeping bag would have to be stuffed into the hole in the window to keep out the elements. We could survive hypothermia more easily than discovery and punishment.
A rainstorm was on its way – had been kicking up for some time. And Dad sent Greg up to the cupola to make sure our windows – our windows! – were closed against the rain.
When we got home (where were we? Fear erases memory…) Dad was waiting for us.
“Mark. Sean. I have something serious to discuss with you.”
Serious – it was bad already.
“Because of the storm, I sent Greg up to your room to check your windows.”
That was it. My life flashed before my eyes, but being short up to that point, gave my time to imagine a few other people’s lives as well.
“And sons, the wind was blowing so strong, it actually blew out one of your windows. So I need you both to be very careful up there, in case there is any broken glass.”
“Really…” I said.
“I did notice the window looked awful weak,” Mark said.
I nodded in agreement. And later that week, the window elves showed up and replaced our window.
And that is how Mark was able to live to see his 40th birthday.
Happy Birthday, bro.
Just my thoughts,
PS In the middle photo, Mark is the screaming lad. The cool kid in the cowboy boots is yours truly.
In the the bottom picture, the guy looking like it made it to the top of Mt. St. Helens without breaking a sweat is Mark. He’s actually dead tired. Embarassingly out of shape. We had a makeup artist do him up so he’d look less dead and sweated out. His sisters and I are in the picture to hold him up. I had to carry him back down. Or maybe he carried me… the details get a little fuzzy over time.