(more vacation posts later, when I have time to prepare the pics)
This is a true story of laziness, karma, and just basic detective work, told in two parts. Similar in ways to Arlo Guthrie’s presumably fictional song, “Alice’s Restaurant,” (but not until the second part), this one’s all true. Even the part where people are lying.
My brother Charles and I never really knew just how pissed Dad was. For all we knew, maybe he laughed about it where we couldn’t see him.
Despite the many pleasures of growing up in the country — fresh air, room to roam, eye-popping night skies — a few things about living way out could be considered drawbacks. I couldn’t just run next door, or even down the street, to rustle up a few kids for general good times. The streets on either side of ours were a couple miles across hilly fields, or a few miles through dense woods, respectively, and some featured vicious dogs and barbed-wire fences. They were just as likely as our street to feature children my age, but the Great Wall of China might as well have stood between us.
For that reason, Charles and I spent a lot more time together than other siblings I knew. A mere two years my senior, he no doubt sometimes felt like ditching the little kid for something more exciting. And, more times than he might know, I didn’t care to do what he was doing, but went along for the ride. In fact, my brother might be solely responsible for what physical coordination I have.
Then again, he may have distracted me just enough to keep me from becoming the slightly younger, more handsome Bill Gates. Or the slightly younger, geekier Steve Jobs. We’ll never know.
Chores were a big part of our childhood. Mom taught us very young how to dust and vacuum. Dad taught us how to mow the considerable lawn. Mom showed us how to drive the riding mower while holding a can of beer in one hand (notice I said, “showed,” not “taught.”). Either of us could make a PB&J or prepare eggs three different ways, if needed.
Charles and I generally didn’t complain about helping around the house. We knew it wouldn’t do any good, and could hurt our weekly allowance (which we were very fortunate to receive).
What we didn’t like, however, was doing chores that required leaving the house. Once Charles reached driving age, these tasks were more likely to fall into our laps.
He and I were good at coming up with alternative methods of completing domestic tasks, and sometimes made up just plain lies to avoid getting scolded and/or punished.
Here’s one infamous example.
We had a set of tiny, hard plastic baseball bats that were very good at hitting marbles. I pitched them to Charles and he hit them. (He was more into risky behavior than I was, so I suspect I did this under duress.) One marble happened to go almost straight up and hit the glass globe covering the ceiling fan’s light bulb. It made a hole much more than just noticeable.
About the size of a… golf ball, yeah, that’s it. A golf ball.
The ceiling fan always had been shaky and the screws holding the globe tight were apt to loosen over time.
Our story went a lot like this:
“We were practicing our putts in the living room, and the ceiling fan globe fell, then bounced off the couch onto a golf ball on the floor.” Whether our parents completely bought it or not, it seemed plausible enough and was chalked up as an accident.
I think we’ve already told them what really happened. If not, then our next family gathering could get interesting.
There’s one case, however, where our strategery fell apart.
(to be continued)