Our Awful Friends Part 5

Little Becky soon grew into her heritage and joined her roving brothers. Of course, being smaller, she tired sooner and was apt to be left somewhere along the way.  Mrs. Awful didn’t need to worry.  Without fail, some mother was sure to dispatch Becky home if she lingered too long.  One unfortunate day, we suffered a sewer malfunction at our house.  Daddy was hard at work digging out the sewer line when he noted Becky behind him, making mud pies in the mess he’d left.  He wasn’t particularly enjoying his work that day and howled for Mother to get Becky out of there.  Mother sprayed Becky with the water hose and walked her home herself, figuring that was the best way to contain the mess and cut down on her own laundry.  She handed her off to Mrs. Awful, who commenced yelling for the boys who were supposed to be watching Becky.  Mother didn’t linger for coffee.

A couple of days later, Mother looked out to see Little Becky sitting in our sand pile, still wearing the same unlaundered clothes she’d been wearing on her last visit.  Again, Mother delivered her home.  After that, whenever Becky lingered too long in our yard, Mother would have Phyllis return her, fearing the unsupervised child would wander into the pasture and be kicked by a horse or fall in the pond. For some reason, she was grudging about taking on the care of another toddler since she had plenty of her own.

I know Mother chose Phyllis to return Becky because she could resist the lure of the Awful’s since Billy and I had made it clear we yearned to join their traveling circus.  We were always denied permission to “go see the Awfuls” or ramble with them. One fine day, I caught Mother napping on the sofa and whispered a request.  “Can I go play with Jamey?”

She snored, “Uhhhhhh” at me and I knew I’d hit pay dirt.  Their house was a wonderland.  A sycamore grew adjacent to the front porch.  We skittered up the tree and climbed in through a mangled attic window.  From there, we crawled through the dusty attic and dropped through the attic access into their grandma’s closet.  Until we dropped in on Grandma, I had no idea she existed.  Deep in a nap, she awoke screaming, to the kid’s delight.  We fled, leaving the house through a hole in the living room floor.  Of course, Mama Awful was unhappy to have her soaps interrupted by a bunch of wild kids.  We had traversed the entire house without using a door.  We made two or three such passes before Phyllis appeared at the door to fetch me home.  She took great pleasure in telling me how much trouble I was in for going to the Awfuls without permission.  Naturally, when I got home, I was able to make Mother remember my request to go. I escaped that time, but she made it clear she had to be awake before giving permission for anything else.  I was also pre-threatened not to awaken her unless a kid was bleeding or something was on fire.  She had a bad attitude.  In the future, when she took her rare naps, all requests had to go through Phyllis, meaning they were met by a resounding “NO!”  It was a rotten deal.


See No Evil

muddy feetI didn’t like having syrup for breakfast on school mornings when I was a little kid since I was lazy about washing up afterwards. In class, my papers stuck to me all morning till I went out at recess. Then I usually romped around and came back in with dirt sticking to the syrupy patches. I never saw much point in washing up before meals anyway. I knew something as tiny as a germ couldn’t possibly hurt me.
Now, there were occasions I had no problem with washing, but really felt soap was overrated. I had my standards and expected to wash after contact with earthworms, snails, slimy animal carcasses, blood, axle grease, or chicken poop between my bare toes, sometimes even using soap voluntarily. I was on the fence about frogs. I wasn’t altogether sure they didn’t cause warts. Sue Lunsford played with frogs all the time and had lots of warts, so I erred on the side of caution, washing with soap after quality time with frogs. After I smelled a dog once who’d tangled with a skunk. I put that on my list, too. I figured if you could see dirt or it would rub off on people or furniture, it was good to wash. I also believed in washing loose sand off. I hated walking barefoot on gritty sand on smooth floors. I was also happy to take a bath if I’d been playing in sand. I hated the way it made the sheets feel. We threw sand and dirt at each other a lot, so I’d done the research.
Unfortunately for me, Mother didn’t share my philosophy about washing, insisting I wash my hands and arms up to my elbows with soap and water before every meal. Naturally, I fell short as often as possible, often just running my dirty hands and arms under the running water and drying on the towel by the sink. The dirty, streaked up towel ratted me out quite a few times.

Washing after meals would have been insane.