Kenny Discovers the Birds & the Bees… and the Mice (Content for Family and Friends Only)

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This is the third of four parts of an older brother’s eulogy to a beloved younger brother.

Kenny used football to teach a lot of things, even how to deal with celebrities with respect. Whether it was about when to get excited (like the moment he and Pat saw Al Davis riding in the next car over on the Thruway while driving home after a Raiders game) or when to contain excitement (which was pretty much every time Sam saw Marv Levy at Ilio’s).

But don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if Kenny wasn’t into fun. He was very good at doing fun. And when he found a gag that worked, you could be sure he’d use it – over and over again. For instance, at every baptism, without fail, when the time came for the godfather to hold the baby, Uncle Kenny would lean into Cesidia and whisper, “This is when I dropped you on your head.” Of course, sometimes he forgot his audience. One year – a different year from our opening story – his Christmas tree nearly fell on young Catarina. He caught the tree before it hit her, but he could tell she was scared. So he tried to make light of the situation by saying, “Catarina, you knocked down the tree!” Well, that was too much and Catarina started crying. He did his best to comfort her, but, well, you know, girls.

He didn’t limit his repartee to one-liners, either. He could out-slapstick the Three Stooges, but only when it came to the birds and the bees… and the occasional mouse. Yes, it’s true he and Betsy would pay their young innocent daughter Teresa a dollar every time she removed an undocumented rodent that migrated into their house.

But these classics begin with bees. Once we were helping our grandfather with yardwork on Lake Avenue. Grandpa and I were working in the front when we heard this high-pitched scream from afar. I looked at my grandfather and said, “I just don’t get it. Why do girls have to scream for no reason.” The scream was getting louder, and before my grandfather could say anything, here comes Kenny running full-speed around the corner of the house screaming, well, like a girl. “What’s wrong,” asked Grandpa. “I just saw a bees’ nest,” answered Kenny. “Did you get stung?” “No,” said Kenny after quickly examining his arms and legs. With that, grandpa went back to work as if nothing had happened.

Of course, this doesn’t beat the classic “Andrea and the bee” story. One summer morning, our family prepared for a long car ride. Andrea got in the car first after picking a tulip. Next, Kenny hopped in. Moments later, he burst out of the car screaming (a little less like a girl this time since his voice had finally changed) and commenced to orbit the house three times. I looked in to if Andrea was all right, and she’s just sitting there all bright-eyes and innocence with her tulip. Curious, I leaned into the car, and, upon further inspection, I discovered a huge bumble bee minding its own business in the middle of the tulip. I looked at Andrea and she looks at me as if to say, “What’s the big deal?” I grabbed the flower and threw it and the bee outside. Only then did Kenny, albeit reluctantly, enter the car.

Then there was the quiet day he saw a dead mouse on the kitchen floor at our Oliver Street apartment. Upon discovering the deceased rodent and without saying a word, he ran out around the corner of the kitchen, into the hallway, down the stairs, out the door, and all the way down Oliver Street, all the while screaming at the top of his lungs. Bear in mind, he ran past Betsy without thinking to warn her. This may have set a precedent, as I shall relay in a moment.

First, there’s this story. He (sort of) got over the bees, but then the birds took over… his house. One day Betsy got home in their old house and there’s this big bird – a hawk – perched in the recessed portion of the ceiling molding. She closed all the doors of the house and put Teresa and Pat into the laundry room. Then she called Kenny to tell him about there being a big bird in the house. So he came home and what did he see? A little itty-bitty sparrow. He’s thinking Betsy is crazy. He tried to open the window to let the bird out. As he turns around, however, he finally saw the big bird. “Uh-oh!” They had to call the town and pay a man $50 to come with a bag to catch the big bird. With the hawk gone, Kenny bravely scared the little bird out.

Alas, the mouse thing never ended. Teresa’s favorite story was the time Kenny had to get some sort of tool out Uncle Chris’ shed. The family drove to their uncle’s driveway and stayed in the car to watch dad unlatch the shed doors and open them with both hands. Suddenly, he bolted away high speed towards them. He ran past their car and ran around Uncle Chris’ cars 3-4 times before coming back to their driver’s side window. He told them a mouse was sitting on the lawn mower and jumped on him as soon as he opened the doors. With little corroborative evidence, he claimed the mouse went down his chest. Betsy said, perhaps with a subtle hint of sternness, “Well, Ken, you can’t leave the shed doors open.” It took him about 5 minutes to build up the courage to slowly step towards the shed. As soon as he got close enough, he stretched his arms to the max and slammed the doors, and immediately turned around and ran towards the car.

Finally – and this is a husband and wife story that evokes images of Laurel and Hardy – there was this one morning when Betsy opened the door of the pantry and Kenny & her both see this mouse climbing up the shelfs. They start screaming “What do we do? What do we do?” Kenny convinces Betsy to get two garbage cans. She traps the mouse and they rush to the outside door to throw the mouse out. Mind you, they’re still screaming at the top of our lungs. Betsy leaps through the open door and flings the mouse and the garbage cans as hard as she can and, as these are still climbing into low-Earth orbit apogee, she quickly turns to sprint back into the house, only to see the door slam in her face. Kenny was so frightened by the mouse he shut the door as soon as Betsy got out. Ha! I could see Betsy pounding on the door yelling, “Kenny!” I like to think of this as the “reverse-Flintstone.”

Ah, birds, bees, and mice,… it seems as if the show never ends…

We all know these were funny but isolated occurrences.

I could on and on with stories from the many hearts in his life, and I apologize for leaving out many great memories. Kenny impacted each of us in very individual yet profound ways. It may seem like these memories have reached a finite limit, but I implore you to examine those memories a bit more. For each memory, each engagement, was Kenny showing you how he had faith in you.

In fact, you’d be surprised just how much faith he has in you…

Part I: Strawberry Fields Forever |
Part II: Twins Never Part |
Part III: Kenny Discovers the Birds and the Bees… and the Mice (Content for Friends and Family Only) |
Part IV: Breadcrumbs of Unfinished Symphonies |

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