One was older than the other.
But I forget which one.
George was feeling pretty good, despite the fact he was suffering from a head cold.
“Achoo!” he sneezed as he was putting on his school sweater.
“God Bless You!” yelled his little sister Francine as she ran by his bedroom door. She stopped and ran back to peek her head inside the open archway.
“You okay, George?” she knew how he must be feeling, because she had just gotten better herself.
“Great!” he said although he voice was watery, and playfully threw his pillow at her.
“Ah!” His sister then ran back down the hallway to the stairs.
She stood at the landing, the only girl of three older brothers, and pulled into her lungs the aroma of breakfast downstairs. It smelled of French toast and bacon, her favorite. It was going to be a good day, she decided.
Mommy, whose real name was Madeline, stood at the sink washing some last minute dishes. She hummed while she placed the last dish into the drain, and dried her hands with a towel. She looked at the towel briefly and smiled. A faded cotton cloth, no more than a rag really, containing so many memories. It was obviously well worn, but the pictures of pumpkins and witches flying on broomsticks brought a smile to her face.
Her Halloween towels were the signal of the beginning of the season. When decorating it was one of the first things to come out of the boxes, packed away in the attic. Mommy liked to fix the house up according to the holiday. Amongst the straw figures and scarecrows, ghostly cardboard drawings and cottony spider webs, there were the kitchen towels and potholders. Nobody knew where they came from or how old they were. They were just always there.
And candy corn. There was always a giant glass pumpkin full of candy corn. It was the only time Mommy let them have candy (well besides Easter and Christmas) and it was something her brood looked forward to every year.
“Achoo!” she heard from behind. She turned around to face her son, nose red from sneezing and blowing, but a smile on his face just the same. He too had seen the Halloween towels and was getting excited for the big night.
“Can’t wait to go trick or treating!” He announced happily.
“But what should I be this year? What costume should I get?”
“Why don’t you go as a clown, your nose looks like it…” offered Bob who had just come from outside. It was his turn to take out the trash for trash day and he had thrown his heavy coat over his p.j.’s.
“Very funny” George stuck his tongue out at his brother. He knew he was kidding, but he didn’t like his brother making fun of how he looked. It was beginning to bother him that his nose DID look like a clown’s. When was this cold going away?
“That’s enough” said Mommy. “Sit down you two, and Bob you go get dressed.”
Bob ran up the stairs but not before grabbing his own nose and yelling honk! honk!, then laughing maniacally.
Francine just shook her head and Mommy laughed. George didn’t.
The three of them sat down and silently ate their French toast and bacon, lost in their own thoughts. Bob finally came down stairs and entered the room. Mommy began to laugh and Francine stifled a giggle. George had his back to the doorway and couldn’t see his brother right away. He was getting ready to turn around when Mommy blurted out “Bob! My lipstick!” and then they all laughed.
Bob had covered his entire nose in red lipstick. George looked at him for a moment, then turned his head away, trying to hide his grin. His brother DID look funny, but wasn’t going to let him know it.
“Wipe your nose, Bob” Mommy said, and handed him one of the raggedy Halloween towels. Everyone was still laughing and finally George could hold in his guffaws no longer and let one out himself.
Bob was just about to wipe his nose when he felt a giant sneeze coming on.
“ACHOO!” he said and buried his face into the cloth, wiping the red lipstick all over his face.
“You can go as Lulu the Clown!” laughed George, feeling somewhat better that he had given his brother his cold. He was done with it anyway.
“Oh yeah? Well then we can be sisters!” and Bob jumped up to run over to George, rubbing his face on his chin, spreading the lipstick further all over his face and George’s. They finally tumbled to the ground, laughing and coughing and rolling around.
Mommy looked at Francine, who had been fascinated with the idea that you could actually put lipstick somewhere other than your lips.
“It’s going to be a good day, isn’t it Mommy?” she asked, not really expecting a response.
“A good day, indeed.” Mommy answered.
Then she reached into her pocket to pull out the thin tube of makeup to line her lips with lipstick. Puckering dramatically, she reached over and planted a giant kiss on her little girls cheek, leaving a red lip outline on the side of her face. Her daughter laughed and calmly stuck a buttery slice of French toast in her mouth.
The clump of wrestling boys looked up from the floor for a moment and stopped, amazed that Mommy would do that.
But Mommy was cool. If anything, she knew how to laugh. They knew that it was always cool to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously.
Because even if you had a cold, it would go away eventually. Especially if you were lucky enough to have a goofy brother to share it with.
That’s the story of George and Bob, who were brothers.
One was older than the other.
But I forget which one.