same but different

There was a gravel pit across the street from my parents’ house. The people who owned and operated it had the same last name as my family. There was one letter difference, so we weren’t related. We did spend a lot of time with them, though. One day, my father came home and said, hey, they’re going to Disney World tomorrow, we should go, too. So we packed that night and drove to Disney World the next morning with our neighbors.

I remember when they got one of those make your own soda CO2 kits. We’d have ice pops and soda and play in their yard while our mothers held Bible study. They had three kids and the oldest babysat us once, but I made a prank call while he was supposed to be watching us, and he never came back. The youngest girl would babysit us from time to time. She was nice and pretty and blonde and was the same age as my cousin. We were swinging on her swing set once and she accidentally kicked out my brother’s two front baby teeth.

Everything smelled like grease and oil and dirt in their garage, which was decorated proudly with big, thick chains and stacks of old tires and deer antlers. It was scary in the garage. They were the first people in the neighborhood to get a satellite dish, one of those huge, gaudy things that took up half the yard. We went over the night they hooked it up and I saw MTV for the first time. The video I remember was “You Might Think” by The Cars and I stopped coloring with my red Crayola marker, which was almost dried up anyway, and looked up at something I couldn’t explain, but definitely loved.

They had some pigs in a pen out behind the garden and one night, a bear broke in and ate all three pigs. The middle brother took us out to show us the claw marks in the wood frame. From that point on, my brother called him Jason Bacon, The Crispy Critter, which was not his name. He was a lot older than us, and on the bus ride home one day, he called me a fuckingbird. I went home and told my mother. That didn’t go over so well with the Bible study crowd.

He took over the family business and still lives in the gravel pit across from my parents’ house. He asked them if my brother and I would stop by some day and catch up, but we haven’t gone yet.