Celebrating the Pity of Brotherly Love

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Celebrating the Pity of Brotherly Love

By Newsweek Staff

Filed: 8/13/06 at 8:00 PM  | Updated: 3/13/10 at 6:16 PM

Everyone has seen the sitcoms where the older brother gives the younger brother a friendly punch in the arm once in a while, or a "noogie" here and there. I envy that younger brother; I never had the luxury of a mere noogie. Older brothers are vicious creatures who feed off the vulnerability and gullibility of younger brothers. We must eliminate the possibility of having older brothers. Yes, I encourage parents to stop at one boy. The results of brotherhood can be disastrous.

I have two older brothers. There is Scott, who is five years older, and Brett, who is two years older. Around the age of 1, I began to walk. I obviously can't remember this far back, but my memory was jogged by my sibling tormentors. As I learned to walk, I'm told I would hobble around like a drunk on a Saturday night. Meanwhile, my brothers would perch behind the sofa and throw pillows at me. Oblivious, I kept up with my routine until--thwack!--a pillow would hit the back of my head and down I would go. As Scott now puts it, "We'd have to get the right spin on the pillow, or else it wouldn't work. You didn't seem to mind: once we hit you, you'd just get back up and keep walking." This "game" could go on for hours.

Another favorite activity of theirs was to make me into a "Polish sausage." This consisted of forcing me to lie down on top of a blanket on the floor, sometimes by physical force, other times by promising to play my favorite board game, Stratego, when we were finished.

First, assorted pillows and plastic toys were placed inside the blanket with me to simulate cheese, pickles and condiments. After this, I was wrapped in the first blanket, then rolled through a second, third and sometimes fourth blanket. Two massive rubber bands, usually used to hold Scott's broken trumpet case together, were then fastened on each end of the "sausage" to prevent my escape.

If I started crying at this point, the game would come to an end. However, if I decided to keep my mouth shut and think hopefully of Stratego, I would then be placed between two beanbags. I was now a "hamburger." This is where the game got slightly painful. My brothers knew it was impossible for me to get out of the blankets on my own. Knowing this, they would then proceed to jump off the couch and onto me. I had plenty of padding, so there were no serious physical injuries, but there were lasting emotional scars. I still flinch when-ever I see a beanbag. And I wonder why my mother never figured out why the pillows always got holes.

Brotherhood is depicted as something that will strengthen your personality and mature you. I doubt that when Brett persuaded me to ride my tricycle off the front steps, it did anything for my character. A commonly advocated position is that we should treat everyone as if they were our brothers. This is a preposterous notion. I don't think many people would appreciate it if I called them "elf guy," as my brothers commonly refer to me because of my short stature and relatively pointy ears. Treating everyone as a brother would make the world a terrible place. Can you imagine a place where a couple of guys are there your whole life to make sure you're doing fine--so they can tease you?

I tease them, too, of course. I tell them I'll never forgive them for what they made me into. I loathe Brett for protecting me from the bullies at school who viewed me as an easy target. I despise Scott for staying up extra late to help me with all my schoolwork. It wrenches my gut to think of all the camping trips we have gone on, and the times we would sit for hours doing nothing but laughing and making fun of each other.

Imitating my brothers was my purpose in life as a child, and even now I follow their examples. They treat women respectfully and don't abuse alcohol or drugs? Darn it, I'll act that way too! After all, whenever I would do something incredibly foolish, my brothers were always there to beat the stupidity out of me.

If you think my case is an isolated one, you are gravely mistaken. There are probably millions of young men around the world who would not be the same men they are today had it not been for their older brothers.

Parents, consider yourself warned about the effects of brotherhood. And don't even get me started on what having a younger sister can do to you.


  1. Is Krull’s purpose solely to amuse and entertain readers, or does he also have a more serious point to make? If so, what is it? What sentence best sums up Krull’s central idea? What double meaning exists?

  1. What is the effect of the strong verbs Krull uses in paragraph 7?

  1. Point to one example where quotations are used atypically. Why are quotes used in this instance, as well as others?

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