My Brother, Roddy
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Roddy, who was always building sets for plays and pictures (he still does) was setting up a scene depicting Napoleon's march on Moscow on this certain day. He had fixed a crate on the table in the nursery. In the crate he had designed the appropriate hills and plains out of cardboard. To make the scene look wintery, he was using cotton for snow. Back of this he had put up some red paper for background. You see, he wanted to create the idea of a fire in this way, but somehow the fire didn't look realistic enough to him with just red paper, so he put a flashlight in back of the set. At a very bad moment, the torch's batteries went out. Not to be defeated, he immediately got some candles. Need I tell you more? Anyway, the candles set fire to the cotton and the red paper. The curtains in the room caught on fire, the cover on the table began to burn, and even the floor started blazing. He had quite a proper fire going there.
After Mother and Daddy had brought things under control, I found that my dolls and my doll furniture, which had been under the table, were completely destroyed. As for Roddy, he was pretty dilapidated looking. His eyebrows were singed and so were the edges of his hair. I will say, though, that he was very kind about my dolls. He told Daddy that he wanted to give up some of his toys to replace my things that he had destroyed.
I know my brother is fond of me. I know he would do anything for me. And I know he is proud of everything I do. But being a boy, he has those typical faults that occasionally irritate and upset any girl of 16.
It's this matter of getting up in the morning that really upsets me most.
One Friday night I had studied quite late. I had planned to sleep until about eleven the next morning — and I had explicitly told Roddy so that evening. Well, about eight the next morning, Roddy came into my room, yelled around a bit, and then yanked the covers off my bed. I wasn't going to get up but then he came in with a glass of water. I gave in. He has done this trick several times — and always when he knows I want to sleep. This is one gag that has backfired on him, though. Now I get him up the same way — and with equally effective results.
Roddy is at his best when we're having dinner. This is when he really goes to work on me!
He knows how anxious I am to have perfect table manners, so he tries everything he knows to make me feel self-conscious. His favorite trick is to kick me — gently, of course — under the table. The more I object, the more he kicks me. Then he'll nudge me. Or he'll say, "Virginia, you're holding your fork the wrong way." If I don't become sufficiently annoyed at all this, he goes into his tea or soup trick. When I'm drinking my tea, for instance, he'll make a sound like a cow pulling its foot out of mud. Definitely, this is humiliating.
I really admire the wonderful maps he has drawn of his imaginary country which he calls Fidelis. And I think the work he has done on the history of Fidelis is amazing. He's writing a book on it. The forts he builds are also excellent. But I find it hard to get the purpose of the notes he keeps writing on paper and putting in books. Almost everything he thinks of and does he puts on paper and then copies in two or three books. Half of the treasured items have no importance at all. For example, whenever he goes to a movie, he puts down the title of the picture, names of the cast, director, cameraman, producer, and then writes in his opinion. Then, too, he's always jotting down history dates — most of them obscure — for some strange reason. Yet, I have to admit at times his "jotting downs" are helpful.
One time the mother of a child actor who had worked on a picture with Roddy applied for her social security check. She was told the boy hadn't worked long enough to make her eligible for the weekly payment. Roddy had kept accurate records of the boy's days at work — and his records were proof enough to make it possible for the woman to collect.
In the matter of finances, Roddy and I always get involved.
We each get fifty cents a week as an allowance, but Roddy is usually forced to borrow from me. To help him get extra pocket money, I pay him ten cents a week for helping me make my bed in the morning. He thinks he's underpaid, but for the amount of work he does, I think he gets enough. He has a good idea, I must admit, about the value of money. He spends little foolishly. That's more than I can say for myself.
Roddy is never a more typical brother than when it comes to my boy friends. Every girl will know what I mean by that. Just recently, while we were at the still department at the studio waiting to have some pictures taken of us, he began to yell out college fashion the names of my boy friends. He'd call out the name and then say, "Rah! Rah! Rah!" He amused all of the men in the department — but he didn't amuse me.
It's when I'm getting ready to go out on a date, however, that he really excels.
I had just finished dressing one evening for an important date. My friend and I were going to the Cocoanut Grove, my first time out at a nice place. The boy was due any minute. Roddy came into my room, took my lipstick, and proceeded to smear it all over his face. Then he kissed me. You can imagine the results. Lately, he has varied this system and has decided it's better and easier to just take the lipstick and draw lines on my face. Now he's taken to mussing my hair.
Even though he likes my boy friends, he can't resist the urge to tease me when they're present. I'll never forget one evening.
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