Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 87: The Best Summer of My Life

          At ten years old, I knew literally no swear words.
          ....which was probably a good thing, because if I had known them, I would have used them, especially at this point.
          "You okay?" my brother Nemesis inquired.
          "I twisted my hand!" I yelped, performing a small dance of pain and clutching the injured member with melodramatic relish.
          "Careful when you get through the beam," Dad cautioned. "The drill can catch and twist your arm around pretty good if you don't watch it!"
          This was a rare treat for us kids; not the errant drill, but the fact that we got to help build our house! Dad had let us in to help him drill holes for the electrical work, or rather, to let Nemesis and me drill and to let Quill and Squirrel, my sisters, hand him nails and suchlike. As we appreciated the opportunity to let ourselves make a tremendous ruckus and dirty ourselves without reprimand, we gladly "helped" in any way that we could. It was great fun indeed to run through the unfinished walls and scurry up and down the ladders and scaffolding with all the agility of tiny monkeys, minus the tails. (We did, for a time, tie jump ropes to our shorts in an effort to pretend to be monkeys, but that was soon discarded as the tails tended to get tripped upon a lot in our more wild games, such as tag.)
          Once we had perforated the walls with holes for electricals, we left Dad to his own devices and adjourned to the huge dirt piles out in front of the house and spent a happy morning indeed bombarding each other with dirt clods and racing each other up and down the hills that rose steeply into the air well above our house. After a time, one of us suggested that we break out the baseball bats and "help mow the field," so we distributed the bats and the wooden swords accordingly and went out into what would one day become our front lawn.
          Our house was being built on the back end of a small cornfield, so corn accordingly grew randomly from the spilled seeds of the last harvest. We kids loved to go out and whack the stalks down with bats and wooden swords, using up the energy we normally would have expended in hacking at each other. We pretended that we were doing everyone a big favor by "keeping the corn from overrunning the place," but we knew (although we pretended not to) that the bulldozers would one day take care of this job; and now and then we had a hope, that if we lived and were good, Dad would permit us to ride them!
          Mom visited the site too on occasion; usually before the other workers came or, even more preferably, after they had left and we kids were worn out (Mom was not a huge fan of noise). Mom tended to be a little more strict than Dad about things such as scaffolds, especially after a small joke perpetrated by Dad.
          Dad had been showing Mom around their new bedroom ("..and we can put the bed here, and we have the ceiling fan here,") when he suggested to me that I go get Mom a drink of water. Now, we were on the second story, and Dad knew full well how I liked to descend to the water jug located down by the garage, so he was not at all surprised when I took a running start and hurled myself out the unfinished window.
          To say Mom was surprised was putting it mildly. At her yell, I popped my head back in the window to inquire, "What happened???" (I was secretly hoping that she had seen a mouse, as I had wanted to catch one.) I was standing on the scaffold that was conveniently located right outside the window, and which Mom had not been able to see due to the fact that the platform was a good couple feet below the window ledge!
          Mom, who was recovering from the minor heart attack that I had given her, and not helped at all by my dad's unsuccessful attempts to keep a straight face, sternly ordered me to "GET OFF OF THERE!!" I obeyed with the alacrity of one who knew that if he hung around any longer, Mom might rephrase the order to "THROUGH THE WINDOW!!! Get off of there and back in here!!!"
          Naturally, this led to a ban issued by Mom on all scaffold-related activities. Just as naturally, this was tantamount to encouragement for us youngsters, and led to all sorts of games whereby we had to sneak from floor to floor ONLY by means of scaffolding and attempting to evade the ever-watchful eye of the more terrified one of the parental unit, who was convinced that we would one day fall off. (We usually opted to DIVE off if we could not move fast enough to avoid Mom's glance, preferring potential death to the certain punishment that would be meted out should we be caught.)
          Sadly, all good times have to come to a close, and at the end of the summer, the scaffolds were packed up, the dirt hills leveled, and the family established in their new house in the country, which was sadly bereft of the secret passageways we had urged Mom and Dad to install, but which we somehow managed to do without. That summer was firmly established as the best summer of our young lives, and life went on peacefully in our new dwelling...
          ...until a certain boy discovered the latches on the window screen of his bedroom and ventured onto the roof with his brother to yodel down the sewer vent pipes in the hopes of scaring those in the kitchen below...but that's another story.

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