“ Where is everyone?” Brady Jackson sat down in the patio chair on the lawn in front of the Jackson house.
His sister Jennifer had closed the book she was reading when Brady’s car pulled into the yard, but hadn’t bothered to get up. She lay comfortably on her lounge chair, soaking in the warm June sunshine, the breeze ruffling her medium-length blonde hair.
“Here and there,” she said. “Mom and Dad went to the city and Randy and Jackie went to visit Jackie’s mom.” She peered at Brady over the rather fashionable plastic-rimmed sunglasses she was wearing. “Where’s Amanda?” she asked. “I can’t remember the last time you came over without her.”
“Amanda’s in the city too,” said Brady. “One of her friends from there drove out last night and stayed over and then the two of them went back this morning to do some shopping. I’m heading out there to pick her up tonight.”
“They left you all alone huh? Poor boy,” said Jennifer.
“Hey, I managed to completely avoid shopping,” said Brady, happily. “I’d stay home alone for a month just for that.”
“What is it with guys and shopping? I love buying stuff!” Jennifer sounded genuinely curious.
“I like buying stuff,” said Brady. “But, I don’t go shopping. I go hunting. I know what I want and I just have to find it and bag it. Soon as I find it I can quit hunting. You on the other hand, can find what you’re looking for and then spend the rest of the day wandering around, on the off chance that you might find a better one.” Brady gave his little sister a knowing look.
“This is an important bit of information for you to have before you dive head first into a relationship with a member of my species. Which I expect you could do at any time?” He cocked a curious eyebrow.
Jennifer laughed. “Seems a little doubtful,” she said. “The parents won’t even let me sleep out in the woods with Kendra because they think we’re gonna end up with a campsite full of boys!”
Brady looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “Would you?”
Jennifer laughed again, but then took a moment to reply. “Well maybe,” she admitted. “But we wouldn’t do anything stupid!”
Brady smiled. “There’s the problem,” he said. “It’s probably not you that Mom and Dad are worried about. Mostly anyway. They’re worried about the unknown boys and the stupid things they might do.” He paused. “You want some advice from your overly experienced older brother?”
Jennifer laughed again. “Of course,” she said, “but Randy’s not here, is he?”
“Good one,” said Brady. “I walked right into that one, didn’t I?”
“Yeah you did,” said Jennifer. “But seriously, you’re going to give me advice? About what?”
“About getting permission to do things your parents don’t actually want you to do,” said Brady.
“I’m all ears,” said Jennifer.
“OK then,” said Brady. “Say you want to sleep out in the woods with Kendra, like you said. And you also want a couple of guys to hang out with you in the evening but you know Mom and Dad aren’t going to let that happen. So what you have to do is come up with some outrageous idea. Like that you and Kendra are going to take a tent and go sleep out and a couple of guys are going to be there too but they’ll have their own tent so no worries. Got it?”
“That’s insane,” said Jennifer.
“Exactly,” said Brady, “but you have to pretend not to know that. You have to let Mom and Dad explain it to you. And then you have to say “hmm, I never thought about it like that.”
And then you back down and say “it would probably make more sense if the guys go home at midnight eh?” So now the parents know you’re willing to negotiate and you’re going to be mature about it and not just storm off to your bedroom, and the next thing you know they’ll come across with a compromise that’ll surprise you. Might not be exactly what you want but it’ll probably be better than you expected.”
Jennifer stared at Brady for a moment. “Wow,” she said. “Every girl should have an evil older brother. And I mean that in a good way.”
“I’ll take it as a compliment,” said Brady. “And hey, I’m always on your side you know.”
Jennifer raised her hand for a high five from her brother. “Partners in crime?” she said.
Brady gave her hand a solid smack. “Partners in crime,” he said.
See Rollin Penner and the Travelling Medicine
Show in Steinbach on June 19. Visit www.thetravelingmedicineshow.comfor details.