The Day Andy Came Home

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The taste of chocolate malt always reminds me of the day we first brought my baby brother home from the hospital. Why? It's because a chocolate malt was the treat my parents bought to stop me from fussing on the ride home. You see, they kept asking me things like, "What do you think of the new baby?" and, "Are you excited to have such a cute brother?" Every time they asked, I fussed about something different. I was five years old, and at that age I used to complain about everything. Just the day before, I had complained about socks that felt lumpy between my toes and about hamburger rolls that had little sesame seeds sprinkled over their brown tops. Nowadays, I prefer rolls that have sesame seeds on them; and as for lumpy socks, well, I guess I'm just not that sensitive anymore. On the ride home, I first fussed about the temperature. It was February, and my parents had the heater blasting in order to protect delicate little Andy—and to bake me, I thought. I could feel it in the middle row of the van, where Mom, Andy, and I were sitting. Andy was facing backward in his pastel blue infant seat with pastel yellow flowers spangled all over it. (I'm telling you this, by the way, so you'll be amazed at what a fantastic memory I have.) He was covered with a red and blue plaid wool blanket that clashed dreadfully with the seat. The plastic of the infant seat squeaked, but Andy himself was as quiet as a stuffed animal.

"So how you do like your new baby brother?" Dad asked.
"It's too hot in here," I whined. "I'm suffocating." I had just learned that word and used it at every opportunity. "Andy, don't you think it's too hot in here?" I asked. Receiving no answer, I pouted. This wasn't actually my first glimpse of my brother, but when Dad and I had visited the hospital the day before, Andy had seemed like just one more anonymous infant in the window of the nursery. I remember staring in amazement at the rows of newborns in clear plastic bassinets, some contentedly dreaming...
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