Our favorite game was Junior Executive, a gentler version of Monopoly in which we could buy and sell products and build up our businesses, then get cut down by the arbitrariness of seasons and factory fires. Landing on the factory fire spot seemed to happen a lot, but we had usually been prudent and bought fire insurance, so it didn’t matter much. My brother Kerro almost always won, being two years older and absurdly good at everything, especially math, but I couldn’t get enough of this game.
It’s hard to believe this now, but my brother and I went through a few years of hitting each other every day, several times a day. We were the youngest of four and got lumped together a lot. I can’t remember at all what we fought about, but we fought all the time. He never beat me up, and the hitting was usually an even exchange—hit—Stop it!—hit back—name call. I don’t know who would start it; my guess is we were both prone to the first hit. We are such good friends now and so far away from all that, it is a hard stage to remember as more than a blur of angry bursts. I remember feeling relief when I noticed it had stopped. Things were back to normal.
One day we were in the basement playing Junior Executive, and I complained loudly about something, probably because he had made some easy money. Kerro hit me in the mouth, a surprising development. I had braces and I pressed my clenched teeth into his fist and whipped my head sideways, tearing his knuckles bloody. A very satisfying revenge. I’m pretty sure we just kept playing our game.