Sunday, September 19, 2010

That's Gonna Leave a Mark

I've already described Brandyn Boatwright and filled out that description in previous stories. If you don't know who I'm talking about it would be worth reading “Arboreal Brandyn” or “Brandyn: Ninja Carpenter”. It will help you understand what kind of person he was and why my brother and I loved to torment him. It will also explain why it's perfectly acceptable to laugh at his pain even if pain-laughing isn't something you do as a general rule.

When we were teenagers, Brandyn would call my brother constantly. Literally there were days when he called more then ten times. If we planned to get together and do something this was unnecessary. If we weren't planning to get together it was merely obnoxious. I suppose there are people out there that could call me ten times a day without bothering me at all, but Brandyn was not one of these people. For one thing the conversation was often like this:

“Is Josh there?” Brandyn asked whoever answered the phone.

“Yeah, hold on.”

“This is Josh.”

“Hey Bro!”

“Hey, what's up?”

“Nothing... what are you doing?”

“Watching a movie.”

“That's cool. I'm bored.”

“Sorry, Bro, I need to go. We're watching a movie.”

“That's cool.”

“I'll talk to you later.”

“OK. Bye.”

So far it may seem dull but not that annoying, but that's just the first call. Ten minutes later:

“Is Josh there?”

“It's me, Bro, what's up?”

“Nothing... what are you doing?”

“I'm still watching that movie.”

“Oh sorry... I'm bored.”

“Sorry Bro, but I need to go.”

“OK. Bye.”

This would happen every few minutes until everyone in the house was ready to scream. He would also try to keep Josh on the phone for as long as possible. I shortened it up a great deal for you, the reader, in order to keep you from getting annoyed with it yourself. After a while my brother got tired of it and decided to shake things up a bit. Josh answered the phone for the tenth time:

“Bootie-Cam Incorporated, how may I direct your call?” Josh said as he picked up the phone.

“Can I speak to Josh?” asked a bewildered Brandyn.

“I'm sorry, you have the wrong number,” Josh answered, and hung up.

We all busted out laughing, but it only lasted a moment. The phone rang again.

“Bootie-Cam Incorporated, how may I direct your call?”

“Who have I reached?” Brandyn asked, expecting it this time.

“Bootie-Cam Incorporated, how may I direct your call?”

“What do you do?”

“We are makers of the famous bootie-cam. Would you be interested in buying one?”


“I'll transfer you to sales, please hold,” Josh said, and then hung up the phone.

Again, a torrent of laughter, and again the phone rang.

“Bootie-Cam Incorporated, how may I direct your call?”

“I was trying to get in touch with the sales department, but I was disconnected.”

“I'm sorry, Sir, please hold,” Josh said, and once more hung the phone up.

This happened again and again over the course of half an hour. Sometimes Josh would hand the phone to me or one of the other guys and we would pretend to be Bootie-Cam executives trying to help Brandyn with his problem until we hung up on him. Finally this got old. Brandyn was enjoying the game too much and we just wanted some peace and quiet. I decided to do something about it.

The phone rang again for roughly the thirtieth time. I told Josh to hand me the phone. I took it and I walked into the bathroom followed by all the guys that were currently at the house. I lifted the lid and seat of the toilet and carefully put the phone down in the bowl (it was a cordless phone, for those of you who may be wondering how long the cord was). I answered the phone and flushed the toilet. As soon as it had sucked the last few drops of water down the drain, I hung up.

Amazingly this didn't stop Brandyn. For the next half hour we took turns flushing the toilet at the phone and then hanging up. We could hear Brandyn yelling at us from out of the bowl and calling us all kinds of interesting names, but we ignored it and went on with our great work. Finally Josh couldn't take it anymore. When the phone rang again, Josh picked it up and said “Hello.” He heard the sound of a toilet flushing, and then it hung up. We all burst out laughing.

After all that, I think we decided it would be worth taking the trouble to drive all the way out to Brandyn's house to pick him up. At the time Brandyn didn't have a ride so we were constantly picking him up for one thing or another. Most of the time he would be sitting out on the porch, talking on the phone waiting for us. One Sunday evening, however, this wasn't the case.

We were coming to pick him up for Church. As we got near the end of his long dirt driveway, we saw him sitting in a lawn chair, talking on the cordless phone, right in the middle of the driveway. Both of us were looking at him as we pulled up. Finally, I spoke.

“Hit him with the car,” I said with a slight smile.

“Don't worry, I was going to,” Josh replied.

We slowed down to perhaps three miles an hour. Brandyn looked at us, smiling, and refused to move. Just before we got to him he threw his feet up on the hood of the car. No doubt he thought we intended to stop at the last moment. That was, strictly speaking, true. However, our last moment was later than he thought. With Brandyn's feet propped up on the hood Josh rolled forward and hit the chair with the car. The result was spectacular.

Brandyn shot backwards, flying heels over head. The phone flew out of his hand and up into the woods, and the chair shot straight back about ten feet. Brandyn hit the dirt and rolled around on the ground several times before coming to a stop. He jumped up and said some very colorful things as he kicked the car again and again. Finally we got him calmed down and into the car, and we were on our way to Church. Not that Church was always a safe place for Brandyn.

It was on another night not that long after that, when he found out how dangerous the Church yard could be. Sadly I wasn't there to witness this first-hand. I have had to piece it together from the many eye witnesses. Fortunately for me, and for those of you who have taken an interest in my youth, there were a large number of reliable people there who saw the entire and affair, and most of them loved to talk about how bad it had been and then laugh until they couldn't breathe.

The youth group in Aiken was going through a bit of teamwork training. This training consisted of running through different obstacles as a team: working together to climb over walls and that kind of thing. The idea was that young Christians are stronger together than they are alone. My brother, being who he is, had decided through most of it to prove that he could “win” each of the team events. Now, to those of you who know Josh this will come as no surprise. The fact that he was also the best at every event will surprise very few.

However, this introduced the wrong spirit into the exercise. Whereas it had started as a group of events to show that we all have our strengths and weaknesses, it had become a contest between the boys to impress the girls. The guy coordinating the event kept trying to put a stop to it, but to no avail. Each challenge came, and Josh was first every time.

At last they came to the high jump. One by one, the teenagers failed to get over the rising rope. In the end it came down to two guys: Josh (no shock there) and Brandyn. Here I have to take a moment to explain a few important facts. First, the fact that Brandyn had gotten to the last stand-off with Josh was very impressive. Out of our entire group, Brandyn was the heavy guy. He wasn't fat, but he had a lot more body weight than Josh. Second, Brandyn had just gotten the cast off his leg from where he had cut his toes almost completely off (if you haven't heard that one, read the stories I mentioned at the beginning; it's worth the extra time). I mention these things because I want you to understand how amazing Brandyn's feat was and to what extent he would go to impress girls.

They raised the line again. By this time it was up to Josh's neck. He knew he could make it, but that it would be close. He and I had often jumped over this and that, and each of us could get over something up to our necks, but no higher. Josh mulled this over and decided there was no way Brandyn could make it. He decided to warn him.

“Hey Bro, don't try this jump,” Josh said as they looked at the rope.

“Why? I'll make it,” Brandyn replied with confidence.

“No, you won't. I watched you on the last jump.”

“Afraid of competition?”

“No, I'm afraid you're going to get hurt.”

“Well, I'm not.”


They were told to jump. Josh got a running start and jumped over the line. Brandyn was next up.

I am going to do my best to describe this just as Josh described it to me. He said it was one of the most impressive things he ever saw. Brandyn prepared himself mentally and began to run at full speed. He jumped sort of sideways and kicked one leg up over the rope as if he were doing a flying kick. Then he used his momentum to throw his body up and over. As his other leg passed over the rope he jerked it up behind him. All this happened in a flash, and he was over the rope. He had done it.

However, sometimes great success leads to great failure. His unique jumping style had left his lead leg stretched out at a bad angle. He was so distracted with the jump that he hadn't considered his landing. This lack of consideration ended in his landing badly. In point of fact, he broke his ankle. Well, I say broke; shattered or pulverized might give you a more accurate picture. Brandyn let out a scream that might have been heard over half of Aiken (it didn't actually make the papers for some reason; perhaps it was a heavy news day...). He then collapsed into a twisting, writhing, screaming ball that needed immediate medical attention.

Fortunately they were rather near the hospital. The entire youth group was loaded into the Church bus and they rode out to get Brandyn the help he needed. Several hours later Brandyn was put back together as best as could be with a cast the ran up his entire leg. He was expected to make a full recovery in around six months. The youth minister got in a bit of trouble because no one called anyone's parents due to the emergency. However, pity for Brandyn bought sympathy, and in the end all was forgiven.

Now, some of you may be thinking that it's just wrong to find this funny. Well, I can't help how it seems. It was and is funny. Brandyn ended up wearing a cast on his leg for right around twelve months. He had been warned that what he was about to do was dangerous right before he got both his casts. He heedlessly pressed on, which is what he basically always did. In these two cases it turns out he should have listened to his councilors. Plus, one has to consider that in the end he was no worse for the wear. When the dust had settled, he was the same old Brandyn, and he hadn't even learned anything from it.

We were a wild crew and loved to give each other a hard time. Brandyn was often the butt of things just because he was the loudest. The moral there may be not to draw too much attention to yourself. At least not the kind of attention that makes people think “I would love to see him get hurt. I would laugh until I cried.” Attention like that always was Brandyn's specialty.

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