‘Roger did it’


‘It’s a wonder every Middle Child isn’t an ax murderer’

To have a Middle Child in your family you need, at minimum (duh), three kids. Mine had five. We had the Big Kids (Scott and me), the Little Kids (Laura and Doug). And poor Roger — who, incidentally, just had a birthday Saturday– was the one stuck in the middle.

That's Roger, right there in the middle. Literally, and figuratively

That’s Roger, right there in the middle. Literally, and figuratively

I say ‘poor Roger’ because this is the kind of thing he’d hear all day: ‘Roger! Stop bothering those Big Kids. They have homework to do.’ Or: ‘Roger! Stop teasing those Little Kids. They might get hurt.’

Well, we Big Kids didn’t really mind our homework getting interrupted. And the Little Kids? They didn’t get hurt. Not physically, anyway. Though that Roger was a world-champion teaser/tormenter. I can still picture (and hear) him trailing Laura all around the house blowing on his trombone: ‘Blat blat blaaaaaat…blat blat blaaaaat!’ Over and over and over again. It drove her absolutely wild. Laura: ‘Moooooooom!!!!’ Mom: ‘He’s just practicing, dear.’ Laura: ‘But he won’t stoooooop!’ Mom: ‘Just ignore him.’ Like that would work.

One of the Big Kids (me) condescends to 'play' with Roger. That's Laura lurking by the picnic table. And that's Doug's playpen. (Remember those?)

One of the Big Kids (me) condescends to ‘play’ with Roger. That’s Laura lurking by the picnic table. And that’s Doug’s playpen. (Remember those?)

Poor Roger. Stuck in the middle. Not only did he get squeezed out of exclusive Big Kid and Little Kid activities, he got blamed for pretty much every naughty thing that happened:

Who ate the ears off my chocolate Easter Bunny? ‘Roger did it.’

Who dropped these wet towels here for me to pick up? ‘Roger did it.’

Who left these crayons on the floor so they got stepped on? ‘Roger did it.’

Speaking of crayons, my favorite blame-Roger-for-everything incident was the time our Littlest Brother Doug, who was about two at the time, wrote his name on the white stucco outside wall of our house, right there inside the carport.

Now, you have to imagine, since no photo exists, the word ‘DOIEP’ (which is how Doug spelled ‘Doug’) scrawled in two-year-old penmanship at two-year-old height in rather large purple crayoned letters. He told our Mom ‘Roger did it’. And she almost believed him.

Now all this Middle-Child Angst didn’t thwart Roger’s development. Not one bit. You’ve heard that saying ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you strong?’ Well, in Roger’s case, it made him creative. And funny. Oh, and persuasive as heck.

He actually got our teetotaling grandparents (the Swedish ones who drank gallons of weak coffee and played Scrabble, not the French ones who made dandelion wine and played poker) — he got these grandparents to serve wine at Christmas one year:

Roger and I enjoy some Christmas spirit(s) while Doug doesn't dig into the lutefisk

Roger and I enjoy some Christmas spirit(s) while Doug digs into the Corningware full of lutefisk — as if! — and everyone digs the gumdrop tree

Roger, bless him, is also one of the most gregarious people I know. I swear you could drop him into the middle of the Gobi Desert and he’d find ten new Best Friends before he even looked for water.

Roger is so darned friendly that I bet if you happened to find yourself in Geneva, Illinois, and dropped by his house, he would invite you to hang out on the Porch of Ill Repute. And maybe even share a bowl of chili or a Dad-Egg Sandwich. (If you’re scratching your head over what the heck those are — except for the chili of course — just click here for another good Roger Story.)

If Roger's not on a deck, you can bet he's on the Porch of Ill Repute

When away from the Porch of Ill Repute, a Seaside Deck’ll have to do

So. Happy (Belated-but-Heartfelt) Birthday, Dear Roger. I am so glad you are my Middle Brother. And even gladder that you are not an ax murderer.

New York City. October 2015

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27 thoughts on “‘Roger did it’

  1. My father had like 15 brothers. Or however many… I don’t know the actual number, since every time I sit down to name them I end up getting someone in their twice and forgetting two or more. But they always blamed Steve. To the point where I honestly thought, growing up, that Steve’s full name was Steve-Steve’s-Useless.

    There’s a scapegoat in every big family, I think… and in theirs, it probably didn’t help that my grandmother responded to her pack of boys picking on this one by coddling him and making them help him with his chores when they were done with theirs. Which is why not one of the other brothers ratted my dad out when he trussed Steve up proper and tied him to the back of the station wagon, then left him there to scream in the summer sun until he passed out, only waking up when my grandfather started the car and, totally oblivious, drove it into town.

    Your family sounds nice, is my point.

  2. Unbound Roots

    What a fine tribute to your brother! It must be right around his birthday again, so Happy Birthday to you, Roger! And, way to get those Swedes to drink some wine at Christmas!!! I know that can be quite the chore. 😉

    • Hahaha! You are SO right! My aunt surrendered to the wine, but served it in these super-pretty, super-special glasses that were actually meant for aperitifs. So there’s that. But hey, you gotta love ’em! And I do

  3. Roger is a swell guy. Happy super belated birthday to him. Loved the story (as usual), loved the photos, and that gumdrop tree is awesome! (though it would be a bare tree in our house)

    • Thank you ever so for your comment, Stomperdad! I do love Roger, and all my siblings. And I really miss being near them. Almost as much as I miss being near that gumdrop tree.

      • I totally understand about wanting to be nearer. My brother and his family are in South Korea. I remember my grandmother having a glass bowl with a lid in the shape of chicken (she was a chicken farmer). That’s where our gumdrops were kept 🙂

  4. Ruth Meisenheimer

    David celebrated on Roger’s porch with birthday corn dogs and cake! Couldn’t believe the one ” biblical” picture of Roger! Enjoyed the story, as always, and the pictures.

    • Only Roger would have birthday corndogs! How fun that David was there; I am sooooo jealous! Yes, that is truly a ‘Biblical’ Roger Photo. I guess something has to balance out the Porch of Ill Repute. So glad you’re enjoying the stories! xo

  5. Suzy johnson

    Well, I am a middle child of seven. So I can totally relate to Roger. Especially the big kids little kids thing. Love Tuesdays stories!!!

  6. Isn’t it nice to remember our siblings, watch how they develop and then enjoy their wonderfulness in maturity. He sounds like a great guy. I would love to sit on that porch.

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