June 6th, 2006 – A Day in the Life
I order. “Mocha Frappacino, venti, please. Yes, put all the unhealthy stuff on it. Oh, and I’d like a banana muffin, too!” I casually extend my arm from the window with the Starbuck’s card held jauntily between my fingers. The kid at the window makes a grab for the card, misses it and the thing goes flying out of my hand and under my car. UNDER MY CAR.
I am dressed up: skirt, blouse, high-heels, and my hair is just so. I open my car door and look down. No card. I step out of the car and kneel down. Still I cannot see the card. Of course the heel of my shoe has caught on the hem of my skirt. I lose my balance and topple into the car, leaving a clean spot on the driver’s door. Luckily most of the grime has landed on my hands and my arms which — thank you, God — are wash and wear.
I step back into my car, put it in gear and backup about 12 inches. I might have backed up another two or three inches, but the fellow in the bright red SUV behind me was honking his horn and yelling, “Stop! Stop!” I am not sure why. There were still three or four inches between our bumpers. Maybe he thought I didn’t see him?
Anyway, I get out of my car again and there is my Starbuck’s card, just peeking from beneath the edge of my front bumper. I grab the card and turn to present it to the kid behind the drive-thru window. He says, “Keep it, Lady. This is on me.” Darn, I think as I’m driving away. I should have ordered two muffins.
June 6th, 2006 — The Grownups Wanted Us Dead
The Swing Set
The daily injury report from the swing set ranged from paltry half-inch blood blisters to gruesome compound fractures complete with protruding bone and gore. I suppose the swings themselves were not really dangerous â€“ but, oh, the things we did with them!
Playground swings no longer seem to exist, so incase youâ€™ve never seen one, hereâ€™s a description: ten foot high steel frame; two sets of tripod legs, between them spanned a four inch steel pipe; suspended from the pipe were pairs of heavy steel chains; each pair of chains was connected to a thick, black, rubber seat.
The Winton School swing set had four seats. Four seats â€“ if youâ€™re a kid you know that means at least a dozen kids can play on the set at once. But sometimes â€“ sometimes someone would get greedy â€“ heâ€™d want a whole swing for himself. One kid I remember in particular who did not like to share the swing was my cousin, Rumble.
I donâ€™t know why I always competed with Rumble; whenever I tried I always lost â€“ spectacularly. For instance one day we left Gramâ€™s house â€“ Caution, Rumble, Angel, Smiley, Tattle and I â€“ headed for the playground. Somebody called dibs on a swing, I donâ€™t remember whom, but they were echoed by five other voices. We went from walking to rushing, to running and shoving in three seconds flat â€” because every child knows that calling dibs doesnâ€™t mean a dang thing unless you can enforce the claim.
Caution was the eldest, had the longest legs, and naturally was the strongest runner. He was going to win. Tattle was the baby and she was going to win because we didnâ€™t want to hear the whining and the crying (from the grownups) if she didnâ€™t. That left four kids and two swings. Angel and Grin headed for one. Rumble and I headed for the other. I have no idea how the girlsâ€™ race went, but Rumble and I were neck and neck, arms outstretched, until we were just a few yards from the swing.
Now, I donâ€™t know if it was because Rumble was taller and his arm a little longer than mine, or if heâ€™d pulled just a millimeter ahead, but I realized his hand was going to grasp the chain just before mine could; so I did the only sensible thing â€“ I jumped.
So what if Rumble had the chain? If my body occupied the seat, obviously the swing would be mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!
I launched myself into the air; arms outstretched, and flew like Wonder Woman. Guess what? Linda Carter Iâ€™m not. Rumbleâ€™s fingers wrapped around the chain and he pulled. The swing lurched drunkenly to the left and, instead of doing a spectacular swan dive into the seat of the swing, I did a beautiful belly-flop into the dirt and gravel beneath it.
Twice in my life I have had the wind knocked out of me. It is not an experience I recommend. However, if you have the great, good-fortune to have Rumble as a cousin you are truly blessed. He abandoned the swing immediately and came to stand over me â€“ in fact, all of my wonderful cousins did â€“ and they made such helpful suggestions; things like: â€œBreathe!â€ â€œTalk to me!â€ and, â€œStop turning blue!â€
Tattle asked, â€œIs she dying?â€
If I had had the breath I would have answered, â€œNot until after I kill Rumble.â€