Regular Life

Regular Life

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. – Robert Frost

Getting Caught or Not (Part One)

(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)

8 Responses to Getting Caught or Not (Part One)

  1. There were a very few times that I told bald-faced lies to my mother, and not a one of them did me any good. Always ended up worse than If I’d told the truth in the first place.

    My brother and I were never so fortunate to have the sort of interaction that you and Charles fell into. We play pretty well now, but rarely, if ever, played with each other growing up.

    I’m glad you didn’t make any comparisons between yourself and Steve Ballmer.

  2. You two must have been pretty good kids for your parents to believe the whole bounce off the couch story. I can’t wait to hear the one they called you out on!

  3. My brother and I played together, but with five and a half years separating us…we didn’t really hang out. We didn’t really become friends until we were both pretty much adults.

    I was never much of a liar. Which is a shame…cuz I’m good at it. When surprise parties or other such good causes come along…I can hold the line with the best of ’em. But growing up, I was just overly honest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there were some broken things here and there that I didn’t fess up to…but not many.

    I’m curious how this turns into Alice’s Restaurant. The draft? Blind justice and overly detailed aerial photography of the [quote] scene of the crime [unquote]. Jumpin’ up and down and yellin’ “Kill!” Any and all of these sound like good reasons to tune in tomorrow.

  4. Oh man… I have a dozen of these…. *chuckling*

  5. Upon re-reading, I realized that the example here has nothing to do with the topic of domestic chores, but I sure set it up that way. Oops.

    The first nine paragraphs here are great setup for the second part of the story, which makes it obvious I later plopped in the example in the first part. Oh well.

    Simon – We didn’t lie to our parents very often, either. Which leads me to BK’s question.

    BK – We were very good kids, on the whole. I think most kids in that category have at least a few things their parents never knew, but nothing that would shake the foundation of their trust.

    MG – I rarely did anything that would have got me in trouble, so lying wasn’t a “skill” I used very often. Mostly it was over damage I had done accidentally.

    As far as the “Alice’s Restaurant” connection? Tune in next time!

    Dave – Ah, yes, don’t we all (well, apparently not, according to Moksha).

  6. Mark…you could post for a week on this topic! I won’t suggest any since they might be giveaways, but if you have any trouble recalling them, I can probably help.

    You have a vivid recollection of this one. It sounded good at the time, and I think they at least pretended to buy into it. They know now that it wasn’t a marble…I think I told them about it several years ago.

    Out of all of the things we did, the one that I don’t think Dad ever believed was me breaking my window with a plastic ball and bat. The brick to cypress transition was perfect for home run derby, but apparently plastic balls can break windows. So…basically, I went upper deck, but instead of splintering the lights ala “The Natural,” I managed to break a window.

  7. I grew up with (Hazel and) 4 younger brothers. They would have dozens of these stories, also, to share. I don’t remember any particular memorable lies concocted to explain accidents. Maybe Hazel would, she was more of a daredevil when we were little.
    I remember messing up our new color tv with a big magnet. I probly told that story already. But there was no lying out of that one. Too many witnesses. That, as I look back, may be the one downside to growing up in a big family… ;-)

  8. Charles – Ha! I love that one about the plastic ball breaking the window.

    Did you or did I ricochet a BB gun shot that shattered a window in the Horizon?

    Linda – Any kid who claims never to have attempted a cover-up is just covering up!


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