Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I caught the return throw. "I know. Can she really send us to bed this early?"
We were being baby-sat by our 16 year-old neighbor, Nancy. In a fit of irrational, most likely hormonal rage, she'd banished us to our room without probable cause. We hadn't been fighting, weren't making excessive noise, nothing. Yet at the ridiculous hour of 8:00 pm, here we were. Our friends were still playing touch football in the street, for Chrissakes.
I tossed the ball back to Eric.The doorbell rang downstairs, and Nancy answered it. We heard unfamiliar voices, so we assumed that she had invited a couple of her friends over to our house. Bottles clanking, music playing, it sounded like they were getting a party started! Nancy was the Cat in the Hat, and Thing One and Thing Two had just showed up. Mom and Dad could not possibly have approved this. Teenage subterfuge, right here in our own living room. We had to do something.
If we'd been a few years older, we probably would've come up with a more diabolical plan. But at the ages of 11, 8, and 7, this is the best we could do:
I got my basketball from the closet and gave it to Eric, still on the top bunk. As I held the door to our room slightly ajar, he balanced the basketball top, resting it between the door and the frame.
The old "Booby Trap the Door" trick.
"How do we get her to come up here?" Bobby asked.
"Simple," I said. "You guys pretend you're fighting about something."
They played it to perfection.
"Get off me, you jerk!"
"That's mine! Give it back or I'll punch you again!"
"STOP IT, ERIC! YOU'RE HURTING ME!"
"Quit crying, ya little baby!"
Jeez, isn't she coming yet?
"Quit it, you guys!" I yelled. "We're gonna get in trouble!"
"He's choking me, get him off!"
Finally, Nancy couldn't ignore us any longer. She stomped up the stairs. We heard her coming down the hall.
She was right outside the door.
"What the hell are you guys do-"
Holy crap, it worked to perfection. The ball conked her on top of her dome, knocking her glasses askew. Her face contorted in pissed off, Kathy-Bates-as-Annie-Wilkes-like rage.
And then Bobby doused her with the glass of water.
Nancy was ill-prepared for our pre-pubescent wiles. The combination of mild pain, crooked glasses, and freshly-soaked zitface left her momentarily speechless. Without comment, she stormed out of our room and went back downstairs.
That's what you get, you skanky wench! Send us to bed early? Have a party in our house? We think NOT. Victory was ours.
Temporarily. For two hours, to be precise.
At around ten o'clock, after Nancy had sent Thing One and Thing Two home, our parents returned. We heard angry-sounding murmurs from downstairs. The snitch was ratting us out. A whuppin' was coming our way, no doubt about it.
Bobby scurried over to the toy box and found my kneepads. He slipped them into the butt of his pajama pants, makeshift protection against the spanking-yet-to-come.
Let's pause here for a second so I can clarify something. Our parents never "beat" us, per se. We did, however, earn the occasional smack, thump, swat, spank, or backhand across the ass. Every once in a while, our mom would even find one of our Hot Wheels tracks to do the deed. Let me tell you, there's nothing worse than getting walloped with your own toys.
So anyway, we braced for the incoming wrath o' Dad. He pushed the door open.
"Nancy told us what you guys did. That is not acceptable." He didn't raise his voice at all. Somehow, that made it worse.
"But Dad! She was-"
"I don't want to hear it. She was very upset, and you broke her glasses. And who hit her with the water?"
Bobby giggled from under his blankets.
"Well, let's get this over with," said Dad. I was first up on Your Hit Parade.
Dad had a rule. We got spanked until we cried. Two swats, and I was blubbering like a colicky infant.
He walked across the room. Eric fired off a pre-emptive cry of anticipation, but it didn't help. Dad had apparently decided upon a two-swat minimum.
And then came Bobby's turn.
Bobby tried to stifle a chuckle.
THUD! THUD! THUD! THUD!
"What's in your pants?" Dad asked.
Bobby was laughing uncontrollably now. Clearly, he lacked foresight.
Dad grabbed the back of Bobby's pajama bottoms, giving him a sort of "mini-wedgie". He reached in, grabbed the kneepads, and flung them into the corner.
SWAT! SWAT! SWAT! SWAT!
Dad walked out, turned off our light as he went, and left us alone with our diminishing sobs and whimpers. Eventually, all was quiet on the bedroom front.
"You guys okay?" I asked.
"That was kinda worth it, though, right?"
"Did you see how her glasses were all crooked after she got hit with the ball?"
We laughed till we fell asleep.