Friday, February 9, 2007

Lucy and Ethel: Chapter One

Writing about Lucy and Ethel yesterday opened a flood gate of similar stories involving our escapades. Boy, have we had some escapades. My sister hated me for the better part of the 20th century, well that isn't actually true. She just hated me until she got married and I started a regular hygiene routine which would be around 1985. During our time in school, we were in the same building when she was a sophomore and I was an eighth grader through her senior year, when we would occasionally cross paths I was on the strictest of orders to not even identify myself as related to her AT ALL--under penalty of death. As I would pass her on my way to lunch she would give me this cold, Hannibal Lechter stare daring me to acknowledge her. All I wanted was a hug, maybe even a simple, "hey bud, you gross pig." She was totally embarrassed by me--the sum total package. I think if you had asked her what she hated about me at the time it would have had to be--my birth. Although, given her hatred of me it was exclusive. No one messed with me and if they did they had my sister's wrath to deal with. It always made her mad, "that you have to be that way", when she defended me which meant some sort of physical pain on my part for just simply existing. What was there to be embarrassed about?
Looking back I was quite a mess. Since both of our parents went to work early, we were on our own to get up and get ready for school. From about third grade on, I remember being responsible for my morning routine and off to school. I wasn't really convinced that brushing my teeth, bathing, wearing clean clothes, washing or combing my hair for that matter were of any importance. So, I would wear the same set of clothes for weeks at a time only changing when I got my jeans really dirty. The joke around the house was that i would wake up, whistle and all of my clothes would stand at attention and just jump on me. What my parents didn't know is that I slept in my clothes most of the time. I had a deep fear of any night time disaster catching me in my underwear with no time to get dressed and to safety. (House fire, tornado, intruder, atomic bomb--I had to be dressed and ready. I can remember doing evacuation drills at night just so I could be READY.) All I had to do was put my shoes on, which were right by my bed at the exact location where my feet hit the floor when I rose, put on my red windbreaker and be on my way. I was revolting, disgusting, and just plain nasty! Bathing and the entire hygiene process was just not for me.
We were late for school quite a lot and missed the buss several times. We would call my Grandmother occasionally but she would rat us out to my Dad and we got in big trouble. The one thing we did not want was my Dad on our tail for anything. When we missed the bus we would call a cab. The cab driver (I think there were two cab cars in my tiny town in Southwest Missouri) was always really sweet. "Miss the bus again, kids?" "Yes sir." "Who wants to go to school first?" Was usually the conversation. One of our favorite sit-coms was Taxi and we always held out the hope that we would get hooked up with Ladka. Sis usually went to school first so she could get her social calendar in order and I always followed. I always wished I had gone first because I was a nervous wreck the whole ride to South School. It was embarassing too, that I got out of a cab while all of the other children piled out of yellow buses. At least we were all in yellow vehicels. He never charged us for the trip to both schools, just the closest destination. For our fare, we paid him half dollars that my Mom was saving. Mom still keeps half dollars, Susan B. Anthony and now Sackagowea coins. I've seen my mother reach between the legs of a person to salvage a penny off the floor of the Mall. You never wish for the power of invisibility MORE than when your Mother is hunkered down between the legs of a total stranger--AT THE MALL--for a penny! "Mom, Oh my God! I'll give you a dollar if you will just paleheeease get up!" She kept them in this hideous ceramic roster/chicken thing on top of our fridge. This rooster/chicken was really ugly--home made by some well meaning ceramic artist wannabe who had given up on macrame and gone to the wave of the future-Ceramics. There was a perfect coating of Post-it quality stickiness all over this ugly poultry bank as we didn't often wipe the top of the fridge or it's inhabitants. Lucy and I never told anyone about our secret funding until we were both grown adults and knew we didn't really have to face any repercussions. My Mom is still very irritated by the fact that we gave away all of her half dollars to fund our cab fares.
I remember one time when we were living in the Pink house that we got the curtains caught in the Kirby. Our Kirby was amazing--I think it actually sucked space dust out of the atmosphere. It was awesome. The attachments were amazing too, we had a shag rake! Sis and I were responsible for the basic cleaning jobs around the house: dusting, vacuuming, trash removal since we were home. This particular time we spend several hours getting that sheer, Olive green curtain out of the vacuum. We then switched the curtain so the very noticeable grease stain could not be seen. A backwards sheer curtain really blends into a room with no one every noticing.
Summers were when things really got stirred up. Two children home alone from 8:00 o'clock until 3:30 p.m. there was really no end to the trouble we got into. I spent most of my days outside happily in another world. I played by myself quite contentedly and enjoyed the adventures that I took myself on. Cowboys, Star Trek, Secret Agent, you name it I did it. Since we lived in the country we didn't really have to worry too much about being bothered. I would play for hours, sometimes the whole day, on this chat pile that was no more than a mound of gravel. Chat, is a very tiny, pebbly gravel used to cover country roads. My sweet wife calls is some bizarre Mexican name like kleechy or something. it's just chat-leave it at that. Most days you would find me with silver thighs and calf's because I rode our propane tank and the silver paint would always rub off. That tank took me to some great places and help me win many a battle against Klingon's or Apache's.
Once when Lucy and I were cleaning the kitchen after dinner and had just loaded the dishwasher we discovered we were out of automatic dishwasher detergent. Mom wasn't due home for another hour, Dad was at his weekly B.A.S.S. meeting and we knew that dishes had to be done. We contemplated just running it without detergent but Lucy had a better idea. Dawn, a whole soap compartment full of Dawn. The dishwasher did great until the first commercial break of Laverne and Shirley. That was when this grizzly sound came from the kitchen. A sound the likes of which we had not heard before. It was a gurgling, groaning, churning sound that did not put us at ease. After a quick fight to see who was going to get up and go see what the source of the noise was I went. "Sis...come quick!"
Suds, lots and lots of suds. Oozing from crevices of the dishwasher we really didn't know could ooze suds. They were beautiful, so white and yet at the same time caught some rainbows as the bubbles would burst. Just a point of fact: opening the dishwasher door is NOT recommended when you are trying to stop a dishwasher that is wracked with Dawn sickness. We had suds-EVERYWHERE. "Oh crap...Dad's going to kill us! William get out of your room and come help me fix this. Crap, crap, crap." We tried bailing the suds out and washing them down the sink, but suds were coming up out of the sink--did you know that dishwashers drain into the sink drain? Suds tend to rise and not fall.
Dad came home to two very exhausted children bailing out a dishwasher full of suds. These suds had held a meeting and decided that they were breaking free of their Kenmore prison and taking over the world! They would start with our house on Pineville Road and work their way through the Ozarks. After my Dad's initial blast of anger he began to work his way out of our mess. It takes about three loads of Downy in your dishwasher to fully remove the Dawn. The dishes were clean and had this amazing April fresh scent! The carpet was pretty clean too, my Dad still gets this little vein in his head to pop out when we talk about it.
One other plumbing related incident happened several years later. My parents had divorced and my Dad and I were living in a garage apartment. He had gone to Canada on a fishing excursion and I had lived in the house alone all week. I was 23 and alone--pizza, pizza, pizza, Chinese and why in the world would I want to carry a sack of trash down the stairs? It was the night before Dad returned from his Canadian experience and I was cleaning the apartment. I had managed to shovel out the living room, fumigate the kitchen and had made my way to the bathroom. Shower: Done, Mirror: done, Floor: not that bad, Toilet: in process. I didn't have a toilet brush and decided to use the rag I had used for the whole bathroom. Aren't' you relieved that I didn't start with the toilet. The toilet was clean and shiny and I was just going to rinse out my rag in the toilet water so as not to corrupt my clean sink with toilet water funk. Apparently our toilet had a very powerful flush and created a vacuum like affect in our bowl because it sucked my rag clean out of my hands. "Oh boy, that is not good." Two flushes later I came to the conclusion that I could not solve this on my own-I needed help. "Sis, sorry it's so late..I need help. No I didn't know it would flush! Are you going to help me out or not? Tomorrow, no tomorrow morning I have to fix it tonight." Lucy arrived with several strategies none of which worked. Hangers, plungers, hands, nothing was able to get this rag out of the blasted toilet. It had approached midnight and Lucy and I were at our wits end. We had to resort to our lowest form of punishment--Professional help. It's amazing how valuable a plumber considers himself at 12:30 a.m. His time was worth about $15 a minute. I broke down and bought a toilet brush the next week it only cost me $75 ($74 for the plumber and $.99 for the brush). Dad still doesn't know about that one.
My brain is spasming with all of the stories I need to share with you involving Lucy and Ethel. I'll have more chapters to come and feed you only two or three at a time since I don't think my brain can handle more.
I have the greatest Sis in the world. She means the world to me and I would do anything for her. She and I have been through so much and find ourselves closer and closer each time. I need her to be around and always on alert. Ethel, after all, is nothing without her Lucy. We are adding pages and chapters to our novel of the novel life we have led.

Love you Sis.


Tracy said...

i bet you two heard "you got some splainin to doooooooo" a lot :-)
i absolutely love your stories. Perhaps you should write a book too - i'm serious - just as long as you keep bloggin mr w :-)