How to catch a seagull in three easy steps.

Every summer, my family would squeeze our suitcases and beach gear into our van, wrapping up the overflow and bungeeing it to the roof, and drive the four-and-a-half hours (roughly) from our house to Ocean City, Maryland. It was our annual vacation: a week in a timeshared condo, right on the other side of the bay.

The trips down were mostly dull (though one year, less than 45 minutes into our drive my sister kicked my brother — she was sitting in the back seat and he was in the middle, shoving his hand through the seat and smacking her leg. The kick caused my brother to dislocate his finger so severely he needed surgery. I still remember my dad — who was driving — just telling him repeatedly, “just pop it back, pop it back”. He spent the summer at the beach with a cast up to his elbow).

Imagine: four kids and one handheld Gameboy that was on loan from my Pappy. The only games we had were Tetris and Wheel of Fortune, but we still fought over it as if it were the last cupcake on Earth and not eating it would mean sudden death (or something like that). With all the bells and whistles loaded into cars these days (my sister has a TV in the back of her car, turning her two- and three-year-old into silent, obedient zombies for the duration of their journey — or until the show is over, depending which comes first), four+ hour car trips with nothing but “I Spy” and the license plate game to keep one occupied may be a thing of the past.

But I digress.

This girl totally would have fallen for it.

One year, when my sister and I were probably 10 or 11 (pre-surgery-induced-kick) and my younger brother was about 8, we convinced my brother that he could catch his very own seagull and keep it as a pet. Without further ado:

How to trick your brother in 3 easy steps:

1) Talk to a younger, naive sibling about catching a seagull. We lured Greg in with the possibility of tying a string to its leg and flying it like a kite once caught. Be vague about the details. It’s most successful if you pretend you’ve already done it.

2) Devise a seagull trap. Convince the younger sibling to lie face-up on the sand. Cover the sibling with a white blanket, sprinkling some sand on top (make sure their face is covered). Next, put some pretzels or other crackers on the sibling’s stomach. The idea is that when the seagull lands on the sibling’s stomach to eat the bait, the sibling will throw the towel around the bird and capture it in one swift, bear-hug-like maneuver.

3) Instruct the sibling to lie perfectly still. If they start to move, yell that a seagull is that close and they just have to lie still for a few more minutes.

I think my sister and I got my brother to lay in the sand for 20 minutes while we drank root beer and laughed under the shade of the umbrella.

Younger brothers are great.

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