Thursday, August 21, 2008

Really, why couldn't it have been a Tritops?

      I have always been grateful to have been raised in a big family.  I mean really, how awesome to have a house full of friends? And to go on vacation with a ready-made group of interesting people who kind of look like you (even me and Jenna have similar noses; at least that's what the head of wardrobe for ACL said and hey, I'll take it, her nose is cute!)--it was always fun and lively.   

     Well, let's just say there was never a dull moment.  Not when my pop ran our van into a pothole as big as Delaware (which is small for a state, but large for a pothole, you gotta admit), made all of us kids get out but told my mom to stay in (we found out later this was to give the van "balance" and I don't think my mom found this flattering or amusing), and proceeded to procure a man who just happened to own a tow-truck coming out of a nearby bar who smelled suspiciously of alcohol, but really, we weren't in the position to be picky at that point.   This very, uh...relaxed man, so to speak, got us out (and by us I mean my mom, since she was the only one still in the van, per my pop's orders, just balancing it away) in no time and my parents' were quick to call him an angel.  By the way, do they have AA meetings in heaven?  Just wondering.  

    Anyway, growing up was always interesting.  

    But here's the thing: when you are on the bottom of the totem pole--namely, the mere fourth child in a grand total of five--you don't always have a lot of say.  In anything.  And for a while, it was just me and my brothers--Jenna not having arrived on the scene yet--so I had nobody to boss around; conversely, everybody was my boss.  When Josh was around, he was the authority and we were subject.  If it was just me, Jase, and Jonathan, well Jase ruled the day.  And when Jase was gone--well, you get the picture: Jonathan exercised his right as Supreme Older Brother; he said jump and I asked how high.  When he deemed it the right time to ride our bikes to Landhope Farms (the very mecca of candy, hot dogs, and ice cream treats--I don't know if we even realized that adults did anything so boring and blase as get gas there, and if we did, we didn't care), well then I excitedly grabbed my little red bike with the banana seat and peddled furiously after him.  

   My brothers were kind-hearted, but couldn't resist a little teasing when it came to me.  I was an especially easy target, since I was so sensitive (I say was like I'm not anymore. Ha.) and would give them a nice big reaction every time.  Anyway, my given name is Jessica Sarah Elisabeth--and before you go thinking that I lost my train of thought, let me explain.   Until kindergarten (it was there that I was in a class with two other Sarahs, making me the 3rd Sarah--so I decided to go by my first name, Jessica, successfully making me the only Jessica in my class.  You can imagine my disappointment when another Jessica was added in 2nd grade...), I was called Sarah by everyone.  This was due to the fact that my mom thought I looked like a Sarah as a baby, I think.  

   Anyway, what's important is that somehow dinosaurs became a topic of interest in our house.  Particularly, the triceratops.  Yeah, say that again, out loud.  Notice that it has the name Sarah right smack in the middle of the word?  Well, I would get so mad when my brothers would say that, because I was sure that the dinosaur was really just a tritops--that my brothers had inserted MY NAME into the middle of it just to tease me.  Once they realized that, they would mention the triceratops all of the time.  Suddenly it was, hey Sarah, whaddaya think of the triCERAtops? And, Hmmm, is the triCERAtops a carnivore or a herbivore?, always with an emphasis placed on the CERA.  I could barely believe it when my parents had to explain to me that the dinosaur was, in fact, a triceratops--that my brothers hadn't made it up.  I mean, what are the odds that a bazillion year old dinosaur with a latin name has my Christian name right in the mix of it's own?  Go figure.  

   And here's something else: when we would be out and about playing as spies or some other sort of cloak and dagger fun, we had code names.  I don't exactly remember my brothers' names, but I can assure you they were titles that brought to mind heroic deeds of guts and glory.  

   What was my code name?  Balloon.  Just an inanimate, round, easily-popped object that has no autonomy of its own.  Interesting.  I am sure when our enemies heard that the dreaded Balloon was nearing, it shot fear into their hearts.  I can just hear them whimpering, begging for mercy as they say, Please! Send Snake Eyes, or Dagger, or even Lone Wolf--but whatever you do, keep Balloon away!!!

   And lastly, whenever we played Transformers, which is something we did a lot, I was always, without fail, the yellow buggy, Bumblebee.  I guess there really wasn't a girl transformer, but if you had to pick the weakest, sissiest one, it would be Bumblebee (but not in the latest version of the movie; Bumblebee is pretty awesome now).  Here's the catch though, if another girl--a friend from church, perhaps--ever joined us in Transformers, then I was automatically demoted to Baby Bumblebee--a character that didn't even exist.  Let's just say it was a really good day when I got to be Bumblebee. The real thing.  You know--the one that is actually on the tv show

   So yeah, it wasn't always easy being so low in the pecking order; but at the same time, I wouldn't trade my place with anybody for anything--even with triceratops, Balloon, and Baby Bumblebee taken into consideration.  


Mom said...

This was a very fun blog! How it must change a person to be the a girl after 3 boys! I remember how you were one of the only ones in your class who could bravely go through the woods and not be afraid of bugs. Loved today's stories!

Drew said...

Sorry, babe. I can't really sympathize. I was the oldest. I would pretty much antagonize my brothers until they got mad enough to attack me, laugh all through their pitiful attempts to cause me pain, and then, when I was bored, I would grab them by their shoulders, spin them around, and give one significant pound on their back to knock the wind out of them, ending the fight.

It was nice when I was bigger than them . . .

kathiek said...

Funny stuff!

merry said...


Jessica Latshaw said...

Drew--that comment makes you sound like an ogre or something!!!

Anonymous said...

There were girl transformers ... I think 4 total. The only one with a toy was Arcee.

Jamie said...

Ah yes, but don't you remember how annoyed your older brothers got when we spied on them. Remember "Josh and the Scary Guys"! Or how frustrated our brothers would get when we talked in our "girl language" so they couldn't understand us. You held your own for the youngest and only girl (at the time)!!!

Peaj said...

I was trying to think of a cool take on "Balloon." Like, how it could possibly be interpreted as something sinister, or powerful. Or even ironically sinister, like calling a a huge serial killer "Baby", or like calling someone "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

Nothing came. The name is in no way sinister (unless, maybe, you are going to make your enemies talk in a squeaky high voice TO DEATH!). Neither is it cute or sweet. Those brothers of yours came up with the most innocuous name. I got nothing.

Oh, and tricertops? It's Greek, not Latin. Tri for three, cerat for horn, and ops face. If it were tritops, it would be "three-face." I wouldn't want to meet that dinosaur.

Anonymous said...

It is also Latin. Tri is a Latin root that means three.

Peaj said...

Hey, didn't mean to sound snotty with the "Greek not Latin" comment. I don't know these things first hand; I'm a Googling kind of guy. I just tried to make the point that you can't take the Sarah out of triceratops. It would be a freak of nature, and nobody wants that on their conscience.

semi anonymous said...

Jessica, I feel your pain. I was the younger sister of two much older brothers who tormented me horribly. I could especially relate to one of your older posts about bra straps and feminine hygiene products. It's amazing that after we all became adults that we could become such friends. I don't EVEN want to mention some of the nicknames they had for me back in the day, I'm pretty sure your blog is rated G. I totally hold them responsible for the fact that I cling so tightly to my Overly Sensitive Anonymous membership. I am definitely down with Merry laughing at the irony of Balloon.

Wow, I hope your dad apologized to your mom for the "balance" incident. I'm guessing yes, based on the remarks you made in your tribute for their anniversary a few posts ago. Not sure I would have let my husband drive me anywhere after that, much less anything else without kissing my feet first. Maybe I'm a little sensitive about my weight at the moment ;-)

jason said...

Jessica you failed to mention that your full name was Codename: Balloon and it came from the brand of your shoes, which were Balloons. But yes we knew it was awful even then. A balloon can't move on it's own. It just waits to get popped. By the way, I was Falcon.

Mom said...

I don't remember Pop apologizing about the "van falling into a huge hole" incident. After all, when I married him I knew that he was fully blind in one eye and not so good in the other eye. Falling into holes was a definite possibility. Driving with him shows what an amazing woman of faith I really am!

kathiek said...

Jess, I will never be able to look at a balloon again without thinking of you! ;-)

Jessica Latshaw said...

wow--guys these comments made me laugh!!!

and semi--A: well, now I am curious as to what, exactly, your brothers called you!!! But thanks for keeping my blog innocent;-)

Jase--you guys really couldn't think of a better codename than Balloon?!?! And of course you were Falcon--that's an awesome codename!

Jamie--I remember Josh and the Scary Guys all too well--as well as our "secret language" that sounded suspiciously like Chinese (looking back it was probably pretty politically incorrect of us!)--good times!

Peaj--it's ALL Greek to me!!! Just leave my name out of it, is all I ask:-)

Mom--does pop remember asking you to stay in the car to balance it out? Hilarious!

And Anon--thanks for being so good with your transformer trivia!

And I am glad that everyone got a kick out of Balloon; at least at the time, I was too young to realize the difference between a name like Codename: Balloon and Falcon!

semi anonymous said...

Lynn, I've always thought you were an amazing woman of faith for a lot of reasons! My husband and I are both really bad drivers; when we're in the car together, we argue over who "has" to drive since neither one of us wants to. We once loaned our van to the church on the condition that neither one of US had to drive it. But if hubby ever told me to please stay in the car to help keep balance due to hole he just fell in, I would be looking for my dignity for days after. I know your husband is a good guy, poor vision and all.

And Jess, just for starters, take the word "face" and add whatever nasty word you know in front of it, and those would be the most frequently used nicknames. But there were many many more. Just not when our parents were around. I got my revenge when my brothers started bringing girlfriends to the house. There's nothing quite so mood killing as a little sister walking into a romantic conversation in progress in the living room and asking, "hey, who used up the last of my acne medication?" or "has anyone seen my (insert name of feminine hygiene product here)?" My almost personal favorite "did you eat the rest of the ex lax?" but not quite as good as showing up with a pair of their underpants and inquiring "are these yours? they were in my drawer." Yes, I know, vengeance is mine sayeth the lord, but I wasn't a christian then.

Jessica Latshaw said...


And your brothers don't hold a grudge, right?!