I really underestimated my father. How could he have arranged for the Girl Next Door to accompany us on our vacation? Not just a one day vacation, but almost a whole week! I’ve never even seen her mother, let along her father. I tried to ask her once about them, but all she said was, “It’s complicated”. She was rather complicated before I even thought about her parents being even more complicated, which made me think that I should leave well enough alone, not complicating matters any further!
My father said that we’d rent a large cabin with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and an inside bathroom. I mention the bathroom as sometimes women seem to get all bent out of shape when saying that the bathroom is outdoors, or over in them thar trees!
My mother would be ready with a comment, almost before the last statement was made. “If the Good Lord had meant us to go to the bathroom out in the woods, then he would have equipped us better to deal with that! My word, it’s hard enough visiting the ladies room at the local gas station knowing about the habits of those grease monkeys and their wanton ways of cleaning the restroom for the rest of us. Many is the time, when I’ve needed to give those “mechanics” a piece of my mind, telling them how things should be done! Your father has joked and said that we are the only family who has been banned from using any bathroom on the Interstate within a radius of 100 miles!
I’ve half-expected to see my mother’s face on a wanted poster, warning everyone about the dangers caused by her and her standards for filling station restrooms.
“I’ve seen her”, said a man who just rode into town on his Appaloosa. “She was visiting the ladies room at the first filling station before town! People threw themselves off the stage, fleeing for their lives! “She’s mad, I tell you. Stark raving mad! With her painstakingly clean white gloves, running her right index finger along the top of the towel holder. “Clean! I’ve seen cleaner things in a slop kitchen! Did your mother raise you wrong? Don’t try to deny it, I’m armed you know…..”
It’s just not like when we real guys go into the forest! Every tree is our bathroom, and we know it too! I figured it probably was better to keep those kind of thoughts to myself, knowing how My Friend probably would react, her being a woman and all.
Dad just started throwing things in a pile, no matter whether he expected to take them on our trip, or if it was just because with my mother gone, it seemed like a really reckless thing to do. “Have you checked if we still have any beans in the cupboard?” he called out to me, even though I winced at the thought of eating more beans. “No, sorry, we’ve eaten them all, and the man at the grocery store said that they won’t be getting anymore in stock until next week sometime.” That was a white lie, you know? I really thought that he would get the picture, if I made it as hard as possible to fill the car up with non-existent beans and all. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to eat steaks and fried chicken instead!” sending me a wink, making me jump up at his statement and give him a big hug.
We talked about leaving early the next morning, getting up with the chickens, if we had any that is. My mother always wanted our food to be fresh, but not by having chickens run around the yard, clucking, and digging in her flower beds and all. “But Mom, we can build them a coop with running water and everything. A sort of Chicken Penthouse!” Mom just looked at me as if I had been some wayward Canadian, who fell of the first truck, headed for the promised land. “First it was a ladybug in a jar. Then it was talk of a dog, now you want chickens! I was not born yesterday, you know? I see, what all of this is leading up to! It is some sort of a plot to get chickens for your own pets.”
Fresh eggs, Mom!” That’s what they all say. I won’t have foul fowl ruining my suburban lifestyle.”
Foul Fowl – Ha! Mom made a funny, she would just never know it herself!
I went next door to my friend’s house to make sure that she knew about when we were leaving, so we wouldn’t run into any problems like when we went to the movies. Her house looked just as forlorn as usual, with no sign of life anywhere to be seen. I knocked on her door and waited. I half expected to hear the TV in the background, or the sounds of a dog on the other side of the door, whimpering and barking at the sound of strangers outside. Nothing. Nothing at all.
I was about to go home again, when the door opened a crack. “Oh, it’s you. What is it Poindexter? Have you gotten lost, and couldn’t find your way back home again?” I wish she would be nice and pleasant when I came by. I wish her eyes would light up and look as if she were glad to see me, because it was me. I wish she would tell me that she was the luckiest girl in the world, because someone like me liked someone like her. I wish that….
“Oh. Don’t mind me, she said breaking me out of my thoughts. I guess, it is more interesting to be in Dream Land then to talk to me?” Her head disappeared back into the house, and the door slammed with a fury, that I thought a tornado had hit our neighborhood.
“Grab the kids and the dog” my father yelled through the screaming wind! “Down into the shelter!” Things were swirling around our heads like being in a Waring Blender. I would have wanted some fresh-squeezed orange juice instead, but that would have to wait until later! The car suddenly began to rock from side to side. “Wait a minute!” my father screamed. “I forget to set the emergency brake!” and with that he left us to fend for ourselves, and jumped into the car, fumbling around, looking for the brake handle. Suddenly the car was lifted up over the rooftop and carried away! “Dad!” I cried, even though it was too late. Not even Dorothy and Toto could have helped him now.
The door opened once again. My friend’s hand appeared and knocked on my head, like it was a coconut. “Hello. Hello in there! Are you going to stand there all day? You are making a scene! Get off my porch, Are you listening? Try to wake up, and smell the coffee!” What. Coffee. Porch. Wow, where was I? I looked around me and realized that the tornado had gone, but I was still worried that my father had gotten blown away. “What is it, I’m busy packing for the trip, so I’m not late tomorrow morning!”
Women! Just when you think you have them figured out, they go and do the reverse once again. “Uh, I. I just wanted to see if you knew when we were leaving, but I guess you do, don’t you?” She just looked at me like I was some sort of door to door salesman who couldn’t sell her any brushes, or steak knives. “Look at the edge of these knives. You could slice a piece of paper with one sweep of the hand. She took one of the knives in her hand. “Yep. Looks pretty sharp to me”. I don’t know, but I was worried to take this daydream any farther, lest she did something with that knife to someone, which made the police come and…. “When was the last time you saw her?” The Policeman asked while following what looked like a trail of blood through the house. “Oh, I’m not sure”, said while trying to wipe the blade while he spoke. I think it was a week ago Tuesday, or perhaps Monday, during the last Presidential Election?” “You look familiar”, said while slapping his pockets for the wanted poster of my now-missing friend. “It says here under known accomplices: Boy who lives next door. Constantly Daydreaming, Mildly Confusing, Most likely just as guilty as she”. I wish, I had a getaway car like in the Hardy Boys. One of those dark jobs which could whoosh through the city without being seen.
Someone was knocking on my head again. “Hello. Anybody in there?”. My friend didn’t seem to be the worse for wear. No blood to be seen, nor Brush-Knife Salesmen with a pale complexion, lying on the floor. “Uh. So I guess, we’ll see each other tomorrow morning. Don’t be late!” And with that I backed away from the door, making sure that the Cops were looking the other way, as I raced to my Roadster.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny as I rolled over in bed for another 40 winks. “Hey, Sleepyhead! Wake up! You need to beat those Chickens to the punch!”
I rolled over, and looked at the time: 5:30. 5:30 was she out of her mind? Stop right there. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. I might as well have hit the Go to Jail. Go Directly to Jail. Do not collect $200. Why wasn’t I allowed to buy Boardwalk and Park Place? Why did I not land on them, when there weren’t any houses, but managed to hit them when they had hotels on them? Why did I have to sell out of my Railroads, leaving me Connecticut, but not the other Blue Properties? I might as well ask, why the sky was blue. Rather a deep blue, if you are not used to 5:30am Blue?
I dressed as quickly as possible and rushed downstairs. Before she had a chance to wake up the rest of the neighborhood, I threw the door open and saw….
There she was. Sitting on a heap of this and that. Everything from Tennis Racquets to Pots with broken handles, and this and that all over again.
She just looked at me and said, “Good Morning Sleepy Head! Ready for our new adventure?……..”