Sunday, April 02, 2006

 

In Which Scrappers Show Their Scars...



As you know, my parents are in town, which means there's always something going on. Saturday morning, it meant that Her Lovely Self and I mother were off to some greenhouse at some ungodly hour, while the Brownie and Thomas watched cartoons with my dad, who is as early a riser as the kids.

This translates into one crucial fact for me: I got to sleep in.

Not for very long--just an hour, really. But what a treat. I might have slept longer, but my kids are generally loud and rambunctious, especially on Saturday morning and this morning something odd caused me to wake up.

It was quiet. Too quiet.

I staggered off down the stairs, already sniffing fresh coffee, when I began to hear some signs of life: a TV, the Brownie laughing, and a couple of voices holding a murmured conversation. A conversation that erupted briefly in an exclamation.

"Are you shittin' me? Detention? For trippin' somebody?" my Dad exclaimed. When he gets excited, he often forgets to curb his profanity around the kids. Did I say often? Make that always.

I sat down on the stairs and went into eavesdrop mode.

"I have to eat lunch and stay inside for recess all week. Did you ever have detention, Papa?"

"Me? By gorry, I guess the hell. But if they'd a given me detention for every time I tripped some kid, why I'd still be there right now, sittin' in Mrs. Pelletier's class, clappin' erasers or some goddamn thing."

"What did you get detention for?"

"Holy-O Jesus, what DIDN'T I get detention for? Mostly the usual. Fightin' and what-not. I was a little runt in school, the shortest kid, even shorter than the girls. I always had someone picking on me." Then there was a wistful pause. "But most of em--the ones with half a brain--they only picked on me once."

"McGruff says you have to help your friends get away from bullies. Did they have McGruff at your school?"

"Nope. But you always stood up for your friends. And your family. My sister--your great-aunt Brenda--she used to get picked on sumpin awful. This boy in my class pushed her in the mud once, ruined her new dress. We didn't have much money growing up so it weren't like we had a lotta nice clothes. I still remember that little pud-knocker laughing, right up til I jumped on his back and smacked his forehead into the side of the school building a couple times."

"Was that the worst fight you ever had?"

"Oh hell, that weren't even a fight, that was just a reminder whose sister Brenda was. This was a long time ago, Thomas, and while you weren't supposed to fight then, teachers and principals and whoever knew when to turn a blind eye and leave you alone to work things out. But I had some dillies in my time. One of the best was when I got in a fight during a detention."

"What?"

"Ayuh. I got in trouble for talking in class. This fella Larry Worthen took all my pencils and he thought it was funny that I didn't have a pencil. But we had a math test that day. And I was hissing at him to gimme the goddamn pencil case or else, and then Mrs. Pelletier says in her stuck-up voice, 'Mistah Man, you are talking during a test. Do you wish to fail?'"

"And I said. 'No, ma'am. But I can't take the test til this sumbitch gives me my pencils back.'"

"Well, everyone laughed, but she rapped me with a ruler and said I had to stay after for swearing. So there I was, after school, sitting there, one arm as long as the other. Mrs. Pelletier left to go to the office and I heard someone laughing over by one of the open windows. I look, and there's Larry. And he says, 'Hey, here's your goddamn pencil!' And he threw it right through the open window as hard as he could. Hit me right here in the forehead. See that gray spot? That friggin' pencil stuck right into my head and broke the tip off. Never got it out."



"See that gray spot?"


100_1720



"Well, before you could say 'assholes and elbows,' I was out of my desk and muckled onto Larry--got him right by the collar--and yanked him off the ground and up through the open window. He was bigger 'n me, but I weren't no weak-knee. He could whale on me and he did, but I got a hard head. He bloodied my nose and boxed my ears, but he couldn't knock me down. I waited til he got wore out, then I lit into him. I weren't tall, but I was strong. I grabbed him and threw him over Mrs. Pelletier's desk. He hit the wall and broke the chalkboard. Then I just tipped the desk over on him and started jumping on the desk--with him under it--til he threw up."

"Did you get extra detention?"

"Hell I guess so. Mrs. Pelletier squawked and carried on sumpin awful when she got back. She was more upset about the broken chalkboard than all the spew on the floor and on her desk. I clapped erasers the rest of the year and I spent a lotta weekends cleaning the school, waxing the floors, to pay for the chalkboard and the desk I broke. Larry helped though. He had to wash the storm windows and mow the grass. But he never took my pencils again."

"Wow."

"Yessuh. Different time then. And that weren't even my best fight. My best was probly the time Bradley Butcher jumped me in the boy's room and I flushed his head in the toilet--"

I'd heard enough. I started making loud throat-clearing noises and I came down the stairs. I heard my father and Thomas making shushing noises to each other, although Thomas was giggling.

"What's going on?" I asked as I poured myself a cup of coffee.

"Nuthin'" they said simultaneously, Thomas still trying not to laugh.

"Yeah, right." I looked at my dad. "Please don't give him ideas. It's one thing to stand up to a bully. It's another thing to flush his head down the john."

When you're 7, some phrases are just funny, and the ideas of flushing someone's head in a toilet is one of them, so Thomas just lost it then and started laughing.

"I guess," my dad said sheepishly. He winked at Thomas. "But sometimes we scrappers gotta keep our secrets."

"Yeah!" said Thomas. He looked at me. "Dad and I have all kinds of secrets. Like not telling anyone about how he set himself on fire."

My dad was having a sip of coffee himself when Thomas sprang this one on him, so his response was one that many of you have admitted to having while reading this blog. "What?!?" he sputtered, not sure whether to laugh or cry.

"Oh it's true!" the Brownie cried, tearing herself away from the TV to tell Papa the whole sordid event.

"But we put him out, didn't we?" Thomas said, looking at his sister.

The Brownie nodded emphatically. "We threw snow all on Daddy and hit him with our shovels." Then she paused and uttered what will probably become one of Jason's Quotes of the Day.

"But then Daddy said he still had a hot place in his pants, so he took my shovel and beat himself off," she added.

There was no spit-take this time. My Dad simply dropped his coffee cup and slid out of the chair and lay there under the breakfast table, a 63-year-old man emitting great donkey-brays of laughter while my children, ever the masters of the innocent double-entendre, watched him in puzzlement.

You know, I think I should have just let Dad tell the story about flushing the guy's head after all.

Yours,
From Somewhere on the Masthead


Comments:
Hoo boy, did I need that belly laugh. Your dad is a hoot, as are your kids. (I've been checking back all weekend for more on the detention thing, but this was even more precious!!)
 
Dear lord.

That is awesome.
 
Oh my god. That is priceless. Absolutely priceless. She is awesome.
 
I have been a devotee of Stephen King since I was about 13. I have no more favorite author, no writer more revered. His book "On Writing" should be required for mastery before graduating high school.

Mr. Man, you are as entertaining as he is. I earnestly urge you to write a novel.
 
Oh!
Oh!
Oh!

I can't breathe, from laughing so hard!

I'm under the table with Papa, laughing my *ss off...

T. :)
 
Hawesome!

That is all. i can't type for the giggles.

Thank you Brownie. :)
 
I can just picture that sweet face saying those words. Awesome.
 
Hope I didn't just wake up the neighbors laughing. Not just awesomely funny, HAWESOMELY funny. Got any self-portraits to see how red your face turned after Thomas' remark there, MM? :)
 
Er, sorry, I meant to say the BROWNIE'S comment. Give credit where credit is due.
 
How did you know? Sweet Jeebus, HOW DID YOU KNOW?!
 
I love it when your folks come to visit.

It really takes a shovel to get the job done? Hahahahahaha
 
that so totally made my day. HA!!! by gorry.
 
I haven't laughed this hard at work in a long time.

Somehow I don't think your kids' comments would've ended up on the Art Linkletter show...

Thanks for sharing!

Ignatz
 
This is just great stuff, MM.

I have some idea of what your Dad feels about having a grey spot on his forehead. I was stabbed in the palm of my hand, with a pencil, while in grade school. To this day I have a grey spot on the palm of my hand.
 
thanks for the laugh, MM. I really needed it today.
 
Thanks for the huge laugh- I can always count on that here. I usually just lurk, but think you should know that we all really enjoy your stories. And, I second the "write a book" plan- that's a definite MUST! Still laughing, Lizardmom
 
Thanks be to the Brownie then for the best laugh I've had a good while.
 
Hahahahahaha. Freaking brilliant. When I was about 7 I asked my dad when we were going to "Bed, Bath and Behind," and he couldn't stop laughing about, and I had no idea why. But of course it's not anything like what Brownie said, because it's not like I unknowingly called it "Bed, Bath and Blowjob," which might be a more comparable scenario.
 
i hate you
 
it's me again, still hate you
 
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