Back when it was a huge buyers market, I would have put our house up for sale fully furnished with all my siblings. Of course any real estate agent would have looked at me funny, since I was twelve. The story you are about to read is true. Only the names have been withheld to protect me from being forced in front of a firing squad at the next family gathering.
The presumption of innocence is a legal right in this country. I was always torn with wanting to live the guiltless life or spend quality time with my bedroom. What ever compelled my parents to persecute after hearing “it wasn’t my fault” was baffling. I didn’t wrap the hair dryer with double sided tape, pour glue in the crème rinse containers, or replace the grape juice with Merlot. On a school day, one of our more intelligent geniuses turned the clocks back three hours. Dad, Sherlock of our home, was still investigating who kept putting the milk carton back in the fridge empty. Obviously there was a real need to chill plastic.
One night mom and dad were gone somewhere. Where they went escapes me. In any event, they often escaped. That’s when the word “advantage” came into play and a party was being planned. Before long, the whole high school got wind of it and convoyed over to our house, land of the free and home of the hell raising welcoming committee. I tried telling certain brothers that it probably wasn’t a good idea to have Mom and Dad come home to the stench of a brewery. I toyed with another idea. If you can’t beat em, join em.
There weren’t ample amounts of pretzels to feed us, let alone the rest of the juvenile population of suburbia. But there were enough teens trafficking through our home to leave dents in the tile. Contributions of popped beer tops ornamented the bushes during the high-spirited shindig. Never mind the long term consequences we were facing from the rest of the littered lawn. Paper cups were dispersed within half a mile from where the keg was hidden. And you couldn’t see the carpet through the Frito crumbs. Since we thought life handed us lemons, we tried making special lemonade with the help of those who brought bottles of anything spiked. Hasbro was certainly wrong. Weebles wobble and they do fall down. One girlie left early after the fence bordering our yard couldn’t hold her up. Her parting words were a bit slurred, but sounded like “Nice party! You guys sure got sum dandy lions in your grass.” She was sotally tober.
I suppose my parents wondered why dandelions were stacked on the grill. And why the vacuum cleaner was in the middle of the living room, unless they thought we learned that they are surprisingly easy to use. If June Cleaver could wear high heels and pearls when vacuuming, one sister figured she could wear mom’s favorite pumps and curtain tie backs for necklaces while she used the sweeper hose as a suction cup to give hickies. I also watched colorful pretend peacocks spread their arms ready to fly off the roof. I tried shooing them away from becoming potential paraplegics. I wince now when I see the pheasant on NBC. A pellet gun would have been more effective. So would a motorcade of police cars, but I wasn’t a snitch. I cringed after seeing mom’s matted annuals and trampled perennials. I kept one eye open for my parent’s arrival, and remained on suicide watch in case their hands got within close proximity of my jugular veins for not protecting their plantation. They would soon misjudge me as a highly rated care giving candidate. My plea of innocence was received about as well as my eventual registration to Harvard.
After animal house calmed down and every last beer can was supposedly scooped up from the lawn, Mom and Pop came home to Fort Bliss. Except they didn’t walk through the door without holding that one crushed can of evidence that got overlooked once Dad drove over the metal container wondering what the crunch was. And since future parties were a probability, I’m sure they thought about investing in a Geiger counter. We were under a lot of beer but mostly peer pressure. For the sake of appearances, I wore sunglasses and gargled with a ton of Listerine. Mom went to bathe the baby the next morning and found a stranger sleeping in the bathtub. The rest of the house was likely fingerprinted for furniture foul play. Mom’s nylons that were draped over the shower were now covering the fan blades. And our pooch looked like the Pillsbury dough dog after somebody dusted him with flour. The normally un-intoxicated person would feel rather uncomfortable going through someone else’s kitchen searching for the flour sifter.
A certain amount of Handi-wrapping did faze my younger siblings, and those who shall remain unnamed did some keep-your-mouth-shut bartering. Others called it bribery. The real confusion began when all of us yelled, “It wasn’t me!” We were left wondering how we were going to cope with the same floor to ceiling view of our bedrooms once we got grounded for a month. That, along with other imprisonment issues such as not being able to use the phone. I took a shine to the bathrooms, literally. The parents made me scrub floors, which is why I’m mentally cleanser challenged today. And if they found anything broken, that’s when their generosity flourished and gave us an extra week in solitaire. We didn’t dare gripe about it. They said silence is golden. Otherwise duct tape would do the job.
Someone told me to enjoy my teen years as much as I can. Because there will never again be a time in my life when I can spend that much time learning that there are soooo many petals to flowers in the wallpaper that covered my bedroom walls.
(Posts found in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)