Connie and Marilyn, my younger sisters were great friends with Ralphie, the neighbor boy. They never fought, playing happily for hours. Most often, they shared a seat on the school bus, since his stop was right after theirs. A skinny little guy, Ralphie’s nose dominated his face, causing him to endure taunts on a regular basis.
One afternoon, Connie flew in crying to Mother the instant she got off the bus. “Ralphie hit me in the stomach!”
Mother was shocked. They’d always been such good friends. “Why did he do that? He never hits. What did you do to him?”
”Nothing! I didn’t do nothing to him!” Marilyn was right behind her, backing her up.
”Are you sure you didn’t do anything to him?” she queried.
”No!” Connie insisted.
”Come on then. I guess we’d better go talk to his mama. I can’t have him hitting y’all.” She got her purse and herded Connie and Marilyn into the car, determined to put a stop to Ralphie’s bad behavior before it got out of hand. The girls were delighted, knowing Ralphie anticipating Ralphie’s big trouble.
Miss Betty invited Mother in, though she did seem a little cool. Ralphie and the girls settled to play, as they always did.
Miss Betty brought Mother a cup of coffee and took a seat at the kitchen table with Mother. “ I need to talk to you, Betty. Connie said Ralphie hit her in the stomach for no reason.”
”I know.” Betty answered. “Did Connie tell you she called him Banana Nose? His daddy told him to do that when kids call him that. He has to stick up for himself.”
Mother was mortified. “Connie, did you call Ralphie Banana Nose? You know better than that! No wonder he hit you! You tell hm you’re sorry, right now.”
Connie was in it, deep. “I’m sorry, Ralphie.”
Hastily, Mother made her goodbyes, heading home to eat crow.
Connie learned not to call names that day. Mother learned not to believe a kid who “didn’t do nothing.”