Rick the Lion

Sisters don’t compare the size of each other’s shits do they? Do they pin one another down and dangle loogies over each other’s faces or have competitions for how long they can go without taking a shower? I wouldn’t know. I grew up with two brothers, one full and one step brother from my dad’s second marriage - Aaron and Tyler respectively, both two years my senior, and they did all of those things to and with me, quite often.

Aaron and I lived with our mom in Colorado and only saw Tyler during school breaks when we would fly out to California to visit my dad and his second family, and during those times, the three of us had the most twisted, hilarious, stinky, inappropriate kind of fun together. All we needed was our imaginations, some pencils, a tape recorder, and a whole lot of poop references. I have often wondered how different my childhood, and subsequent adulthood, would have been had I grown up with sisters. Perhaps there would not have been so many conversations based around butts. Perhaps so. But I have never wanted to trade my brothers for sisters, I don’t care how many times they farted on me.

In Colorado, while living with our mom, Aaron and I had some unusual traditions, most of which took place in the bathroom. We used to do our “business” with the door opened so that the other could delight in all of the wonderful sounds and aromas emanating from the one perched on the toilet, and after we had finished, an inspection was requisite. It was akin to gazing up at the sky on a lazy summer day and finding shapes in the billowy white clouds, but instead of up, we gazed down into the brown watery receptacle in hopes of discovering a silhouette of Micky Mouse or maybe a giraffe. No matter the consistency or volume of our creations, we were always able to find something reminiscent of an animal or face, which made the term “poop face,” our favorite insult to one another, all the more enjoyable, and literal. Aaron and I didn’t consider going to the bathroom so much a necessity as an art form, always looking for new ways to create a masterpiece.

"My brother was a football fanatic, knew everything about it, so the fact that I beat him at his own game was a triumph I never let him forget."

We weren’t always around one another when nature called, but when we were, we liked to make it interesting. On occasion we would compete in a friendly race to see who could finish the fastest, but with a twist. We had learned to count to ten in French as wee children, and later incorporated this skill into our competition. We used the French counting as a verbal cue for when the contestant had crossed the finish line. The first three numbers in French, if said with enough grunting, can sound like a noise one would make while forcefully pushing or pulling something. In this case, pushing. “Uhhh… duhhhh…” and for the final release and cue that the competitor had culminated his business, the number three, “trois,” which if you put sufficient sustain on it, sounds a lot like the relaxing, “ahhhh”, “twaaaa!”

We only engaged in the competition when both of us were home, when one of us knew we had a chance at winning. As soon as we had the urge, we would sprint to the bathroom, leaving the door open for our rival to hear, and then count, in French, while bearing down in hopes of victory, “uhhhh… duhhhh…twaaaa!”

I was the reigning champion and record holder. My bowels worked like a well oiled machine back then, lightening fast. Four seconds was my winning time, something I never shared with anyone except for Aaron and my mom as they were the only people I knew who really appreciated the velocity at which I could void my bowels. However, I held a bit of envy towards those who were forced by nature to sit for longer periods, because at least they had time to enjoy the myriad magazines and books next to their toilets or on top of the tank and spend a few moments contemplating life. I was lucky if I had enough time to get through the back of a shampoo bottle, and “wash, rinse, repeat,” just didn’t hold my interest. Later on, the time I spent on the toilet would inadvertently lead to another victory of which I held bragging rights for years to come.

After the first Trivial Pursuit board game came out, Aaron and I used to keep a box of the question cards in the bathroom as reading material - memorizing most of them after countless hours on the toilet. Aaron’s dealings lasted much longer than my expeditious endeavors, so he was more versed in the answers, giving him an unfair advantage when our friends and family would gather to play a real game of Trivial Pursuit. I was the only one who knew that he had essentially been studying the cards on the toilet for years. He didn’t lose games very often, however, after so much time passively reviewing the cards, I too had memorized most of the deck. One afternoon, as bored teenagers, my bro and I decided to play an actual game of Trivial Pursuit. Since we both were keen on the other’s knowledge of the cards, it was a swift game. The only way to win was to be in the center of the board upon which the opponent got the strategic advantage of choosing the category of the final question. Entertainment was my forté, sports my weakness. During this particular game, I had the fortune of arriving at the center circle of the board first. The die had been in my favor that day. Naturally Aaron picked sports for me, and when he read the card to himself, he let out a self-satisfied giggle and said, “You’re never gonna get this.” The question: “Which football coach invented the forward pass?” And as he arrogantly slid the card back into the deck with an air of assured victory and a smug smile, I said, “Knute Rockne?” He froze, eyes wide, and then fell forward into the corner of the couch in disbelief, burying his head in the cushions.

“Nooooo!” he wailed into the pillows.

“Was I right?” I said surprised. He sat back up and said, “How did you know that?”

“I don’t know. I just remember it from the cards." Truth was, I only remembered it because of that unusual name. I wasn’t familiar with many names in sports other than the usual Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, who I knew weren’t football players. My brother was a football fanatic, knew everything about it, so the fact that I beat him at his own game was a triumph I never let him forget. Nor did I ever forget Knute Rockne and that delectable piece of useless Notre Dame trivia.

As we got older, our bathroom hijinks began to wane. Plus, “un, deux, trois" simply wasn’t enough time anymore, and I didn’t know how to count any higher than ten in French anyway. So, I too joined the ranks of people who could sit and relax, settled on the toilet, and indulge in some reading material.

My step brother Tyler was never part of Aaron’s and my competition, but that didn’t mean that when the three of us were together things got any less vulgar nor less centered around deification. We used to record each other’s farts on an old style tape recorder, parody funny and gross versions of game shows, our most famous was The Price is Wrong, where the host’s name was Bob Poopbowl, and the showcase showdown prize was a toilet. But the most inventive act of buffoonery that will endure until our deaths was the nicknames we gave one another.

I started calling Aaron, Urine, at a very young age. I liked how angry it made him knowing that his name sounded familiar to the scientific term for piss. I called him that for years, until one day he started calling me Aimless, which I thought was pretty creative. But then Aimless unfortunately morphed into Anus, which chafed me just as much or more than Aaron being called Urine. But when we visited my dad, we needed something as tasteless and obscene to call Tyler. We couldn’t think of anything below the belt that would suffice, so we settled on Titler, which then shortened into Tit. It was perfect. Urine, Anus, and Tit - a trifecta of vulgar nicknames, which we only called one another.

Those names stuck for a few years, but for our twisted little minds, they weren’t enough. They needed something more - descriptors. At that time, the early eighties, young kids like us entertained ourselves with little books called Mad Libs. They were essentially notepad-style books with short stories on them. Sprinkled throughout each story were blank lines with which kind of word was needed to complete the sentence underneath the line. The game required two participants. One person held the notebook and read to the other person only the needed word whether it be a verb ending in ‘ing,’ a male or female name, an adjective, animal, and our favorites - parts of the body and types of liquids - so many disgusting combinations to choose from, it was almost overwhelming. Sure we could have gone the pedestrian route and used words like ‘hand’ or ‘lemonade,’ but there was no way in hell our unhallowed childhood imaginations would have allowed us to make choices as virtuous as those. Our finished stories were filled with chunky diarrhea, hot piss, bloody butts, and big boobs, which in turn gave us great fodder for the additions to our nicknames. Aaron’s nickname, henceforth became Bloody Chunky Urine. Mine morphed into Hairy Swollen Anus, and Tyler became Fat Milky Tit, the most wholesome of the lot.

As we matured and our profane vocabulary expanded, our nicknames eventually got nicknames. I was sometimes called Anus Licker. Urine was sometimes called Urinalysis. But it wasn’t until our younger brother Ian was born that Tit’s nickname changed, if only slightly, but in my opinion was the best version of them all.

Ian was much younger than the three of us, twelve years my junior, and fourteen years Aaron and Tyler’s junior, but God bless that kid for he tried his best to join in on our gross teenage humor. He didn’t understand most of it until later, but he called us by our nicknames anyway. It was endearing to hear a kindergartner say Anus Licker, Urine, and Tit, much to our parents’ chagrin, but thankfully there is no stopping what comes out of a little kid’s mouth. Then one day, Aaron, Ian and I were lounging around Dad’s house, the two of them probably trying to fart on me, as they were wont to do, and out of the blue, our five-year-old brother said, “Where’s Titsy?” and from thereinafter Titler/Tit/Fat Milky Tit, became forever known as Titsy.

Ian was for all intents and purposes an only child, which meant he never got the chance to invent a stupid language, record farts, or make up disgusting nicknames for his peer siblings, however, when he was still in diapers, he performed the most wonderful act of unintentional ingenuity that only we three clowns could truly appreciate. Unfortunately, none of us older siblings were present to witness the moment, so we had to hear it secondhand from my dad and stepmom who did not fully appreciate the glory of what had transpired. Ian must have been around three years old, just on the cusp of being potty trained. Apparently he had been meandering about our parents’ bedroom, unsupervised, when he felt the urge to remove his diaper after having created a rather cumbersome load. With his diaper off, Ian somehow procured a wire hanger with which he used as an art implement, dipping the ends into his handiwork, dripping and splattering his medium, Jackson Pollock style, onto the new beige carpet and freshly-painted ecru-colored walls. When my stepmom re-emerged, she had the fortuitousness of bearing witness to Ian’s wonderful creativity, smeared all over the room. I can only imagine her reaction, and then I visualize my little naked brother, with the remnants staining his chubby thighs, still holding onto the hanger with reckless toddler abandon. Dear God I wish I could have been there to see his face, oblivious to the walls and carpet he had ruined, but moreover, I wish I could have entered his tiny developing mind to probe the impetus for his enterprise. What was he thinking?

The kid could have been an artist had he continued with a different medium. Aaron and I may have considered going to the bathroom an art form, but Ian actually made it into art. Of course he has no recollection of that marvelous day, but in comparison to Aaron’s and my races and critiques of each other’s doings, Ian’s unintended tribute to bathroom creativity takes the cake.  

“Why do you call him Rick?”, people ask. “Isn’t his name Ian?”

We definitely could have nicknamed Ian after that event, but he was only a mere tot, not quite ready for names like Aaron,Tyler and I had given each other. But as he got a little older, he too desired a moniker of his own, just like his older brothers and sister, Urine, Titsy, and me, Hairy Swollen Anus, or Anus Licker as it were.

Unfortunately, the three of us had outgrown Mad Libs when we entered high school, and then we all went away to college, leaving poor Ian behind with only his Gameboy, Nintendo, and our parents to entertain him - none of which produced the kind of toilet bowl crassness as Aaron,Tyler and I had had with one another.

Our visits to Dad’s house also became more sporadic with each passing year as we entered young adulthood, preferring to spend vacations getting drunk with college friends over coming home. But we still spent the big holidays together as a family. During one Christmas vacation at Dad’s, the four of us blended siblings were all hanging around in the living room, not doing much of anything. Ian, still a young child, full of energy, was buzzing about hoping to distract us from watching TV or reading magazines, which was all we really did at Dad’s house during school breaks. Aaron, feeling pity for our hyperactive younger brother, put down his Sports Illustrated, and in an attempt to subdue Ian’s annoying energy by engaging him in conversation, asked, “Ian, if you could have any other name in the entire world, what name would you want?” Ian, already privy to our disgusting nicknames, could have chosen anything, any combination of body part and fluid or iteration of grossness that he wanted. But our innocent kid brother had not yet been muddled by my brothers’ and my crudeness. He pondered Aaron’s question for a few moments. I could see the little gears in his head turning as he was desperately trying to come up with something we would approve of. He then said, in his cute as hell high pitched voice, “Hmm. I think maybe…Rick!”

Rick. That’s what he wanted his nickname to be. Not anything related to the bathroom, orifices, or bodily discharge. Just plain Rick.

My older brothers and I burst into laughter as we delighted in our little brother’s innocence and naïveté, which put a huge smile on Ian’s cherubic little face. But Aaron felt this new moniker needed something else, a descriptor, just like the three of us freaks had had. He then asked Ian if he could be any animal in the world, which one would he be. Again, Ian pondered the question in earnest, and within a few beats said, “A lion!”

        And there it was. Ian had finally consorted with his twisted siblings, and from that day forward was known amongst the four of us as Rick the Lion. We never tried to get him to change it into something equally as disturbing as our nasty sobriquets, not even when he got older and learned just how filthy the three of us had actually been when we named one another at an age only a few years older than Ian had been at the time.

Throughout the years, we continued to use each other’s nicknames amongst ourselves, however, with Ian it was different. Because his nickname was really just another name, I continued, and still continue to call him Rick, rarely using his birth name, much to the confusion of anyone around us who is not in on the joke.

“Why do you call him Rick?”, people ask. “Isn’t his name Ian?”

“Funny you should ask…”, I say, and if time allows, I amuse myself at the behest of my audience with the tale of how Ian became known as Rick the Lion, never leaving out the origin of how it all began with three young siblings amusing ourselves with Mad Libs and grossly inappropriate language for our ages.

After telling our friends the history of our foul nicknames, they too try to think of new names for themselves, and oftentimes come up with some pretty creative combinations at which we all have a good laugh, but I know their handles won’t stick for long, not like my brothers’ and mine. And the mere fact that we invented our names when we were three scrawny elementary-schoolers with sick imaginations makes our names more unique than any half-baked nicknames our friends try to emulate from our screwball story.

I’ve known plenty of siblings with garden variety nicknames for each other like Bubba or Sissy, initials for their first and middle names like JD, DJ, KC, or nicknames acquired from how they look - Red, Blondie, Shortie, Beanpole, even Fatty. Then there is me and my brothers, a foursome of weirdness.  Of course we could have gone the traditional route and called each other Ty, Aims, A-ron, and Squirt, but what fun would that have been? Nothing about the four of us had ever followed any pretense of convention, what with the shitting races, painting the walls with our own feces, and gameshow hosts named Bob Poopbowl. Instead, we came up with nicknames that, (I assume) have never been given before in the history of nicknames. And for this, I feel honored having grown up with two obnoxious, foulmouthed and offensive older brothers, and one hilarious, albeit much less disgusting, younger brother, who taught us that not everything has to have a diarrhea reference to be funny, although it sure does help. And no matter how old we get, when we are together, we revert back to the gutter-mouthed little kids who gave one another three sacred disgusting monikers, and one delightfully innocent moniker, forever to be known amongst ourselves and a few select, lucky others as, Bloody Chunky Urine, Hairy Swollen Anus, Fat Milky Tit, and Rick. Rick the Lion.