Who doesn’t want to sit by the fireside on dark, cold nights, wizened and wise and eccentric, telling irreverent tales of your bad, mad, richly crazy days to a circle of gobsmacked youngsters who are not scared of you, or your peculiar smell?
I will raise my voice from a deadly whisper and, as small eyes get bigger and bodies lean closer, yell Hold it right there, Outlaw! I’ll sense (I won’t see, my eyes are bad) the nervous twitches and sweaty excitement.
Hmmf. I’d love to do that…if I can remember anything from the past two decades.
In the early days of motherhood I was a zombie. I wasn’t pushing up daisies when something raised me up. I was just fumbling to switch off the alarm, or getting a tiny, hungry mouth latched onto a nipple so I could go back to sleep.
To recall anything from those days I need photo flash cards to light up the synapses and then I go Ohhhhhh, noooooow I remember.
What about pre-motherhood?
In hitting the sweet spot of ‘lots to tell’ I understand I’ve crept into, and I’m digging in, the graveyard of childhood trauma. I’ve written it all before in a manuscript kept in a drawer. One day I’ll bring that first draft back from the dead and flesh it out, post by post.
In the meantime …
I’m going to spill the beans on one bad that isn’t so bad. It leans toward the classic bad of boys playing tok-tokkie; knocking on neighbors doors late at night, then running away to hide where they can see the backlit neighbor looking left and right, puzzled and cross, when the door is opened to nobody. It’s a mischievous bad.
Then I’ll spill the beans on one bad-bad. Only one. There are more, but not today.
No.1 Bad (Mischievous)
My best friend and I told a gullible, sweet, not-so-switched-on boy at school that I was the ‘hand model’ for an advert featured in a women’s magazine. When I placed my hand on the page it was a perfect fit. I think we might also have told him I was related to royalty. He was impressed, a true believer.
No. 2 Bad (Bad-bad, kind of)
Telling the daughter of my father’s next-door neighbor my dad had been in prison (true) and he tells lots of lies (true) and never knowing whether it was this titillating information that imploded his world.
I couldn’t keep it to myself. We sat on the wall near the swimming pool, swinging our legs. She was my ‘holiday friend’ and the holiday was giving me the heebie-jeebies.
My abridged tell-all was somewhat mind-boggling to an innocent, small town Upington girl whose father (I think he was a doctor) had a tinkling water feature in the entrance hall of his house. I doubt she kept my shocking, breathtaking confidences to herself.
In my defense, I was under ten years of age, indignant, and my dad treated his new, pregnant, terrified wife as badly as he had my mom.
He also went back to chookie (a colloquialism for jail) somewhere in the years following my clanger.
If my indiscretion had nasty repercussions, like my new step-mom leaving her new husband (which, I was later told, she did), I console myself with this soft thought: forewarned is forearmed, and she took back what would have been years of battering, bruises, fear, and financial loss.
Right, let’s put that skeleton back in the ground and cover it with enough heavy soil to keep it there.
And then please …
tell me a fireside tale.
P.S. In case you hadn’t noticed, I planted some music under the text because I realized, as I wrote, that I was inspired by Lord Huron lyrics. These guys are one of my favorite bands. I adore their music, and my sons love them too.