Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DEAD IN THE GUTTER

Here's one of my most recent articles for our local newspaper, which explains the references to specific people and such. I find that people LUV to see their name in print, or maybe that's just me. Either way, I find I LUV to see your name in print, so I do it. Hopefully, nobody thinks a libel suit is in order.


I was raised in a 1970‘s two story mansion—okay, maybe they weren’t so much “stories” as they were “levels”...as in bi-level. But it must have been over 2,000 square feet combined, which was unheard of at the time. Moving from about a block away, I remember watching all summer long as the plans came to fruition through the skilled carpentry of Clair’s dad, George Smedley. 
Before the finishing touches, we decided to have a sleep over on the bare floors. We brought in our 10 inch black and white television and dumped a bag of penny candy on the floor. One of us kid’s digestive system rebelled, and somebody—I forget who (Chris)—puked his guts out all over the sub-flooring. Though we cleaned and scrubbed, the stain was still evident. But we thought it was kind of exciting that underneath the carpet, there was a special “secret” that only our family knew about. I guess it’s not a secret anymore. But don’t worry, friends, it’s likely that only one of you is standing on that spot right now.
I’ll never forget moving in—I couldn’t believe my luck. The popcorn ceiling set aglow with sparkling diamond flakes. The not one, not two, but THREE “We must be rich!” bathrooms. And what impressed me most—the glorious shades of brown and gold sculpted carpet. I’d never seen anything so magnificent in my entire life. I’d sit and run my fingers through it over and over and over again, reveling in the rich textures and earthy color combinations. It was the first thing I showed my friends when they came for a tour, and they were just as dazzled.  
In our neighborhood, all of the backyards abutted, as fencing was too expensive and unnecessary. This made for great big softball games and dart gun wars as well as pea picking parties in the community garden of Pat and Pam Handrahan...whether or not they wished their harvest to be an exercise in socialism. As a side note, they were the very first to install a fence...which is really weird. 
Since we were one of the first houses built in our subdivision, we (me) used the holes and hills of the new construction sites to practice being bionic. I remember babysitting at the Graham’s, sitting on their back porch and telling Dane, who was two inches taller than me, that I was, in fact, bionic. He was unbelieving. So I think I may have done something like lift him by his armpits high above my head to prove it. And then I may or may not have refused to put him down until he admitted I absolutely was bionic. Which should concern all the rest of the families in the neighborhood who hired me to tend their children over the years, but what’s done is done, people. That’s what statutes of limitation are for. 
We wanted our street to look like downtown Farmington, so we planted the fastest growing trees we could find—cotton-less cottonwoods. Lie. They were cheap and tawdry, and our neighbors cursed us year after year as the 50 foot monsters dropped piles of dead leaves and yes, COTTON, on peripheral lawns. Still, they held tree houses and rope swings for a good 15 years until their exceedingly shallow root systems gave way and they all came crashing down around us. But we needed a new roof, anyway, so it was all good.
We spent summer evenings playing night games and flirting, and I told Kenny Stoker that I just luuuuuuved going jogging, too! So maybe he could pick me up along the way? 
Which he did. 
And about half a block later—gasping, doubled over and pretty sure I could taste blood—I waved him on, telling him to leave me behind and save himself...
...Which he also did. 
And that is how I fell out of love with him.
Anyway, I know what you’re thinking—what does any of this have to do with anything? The answer is: hard to say. Maybe to suggest that we were easily impressed and entertained back then? Or to bring back sculptured carpet and popcorn ceilings? Or  even just to call Kenny out for leaving me to die in the gutter. The important thing here is, I have access to a newspaper that will print these musings, which for me, is akin to giving candy to a baby—Simply Irresistible. 
 
And it is why I now say, GOD BLESS THE ISLANDER!  And it’s very permissive heart.

7 comments:

Jennifer Griffith said...

Don't forget those dangerous back balconies off the 2nd story kitchens with Indiana Jones bridge type stairways down to the yard. How many broken arms were there? But I did envy your back yard as it "abutted" (as you say) all your neighbors' yards. What a great sense of community that created. A real neighborhood in the true sense. Lovely article and musings, Lisa. Bless the ISLANDER's heart for being there to put you in print.

Amberlee said...

Haha ditto to everything, except Kenny. In my day it was Todd, and Ethan...

Just a bed of roses said...

Lisa, I'm doing a standing ovation for you...can you see me???

More. More. More. more often...Pulleeeze!

You WERE more rich than us...we built our first home in 76 with ONE bathroom. totally jealous now.

Islander is lucky to have you, for real.

Garden of Egan said...

Eewwwwww.. Vomit under the carpet.

My mom still has carpet like you are describing. And she has it on purpose.

Juli said...

Ha. We have the secret spot as well. Sadly we now have so many secret spots that we no longer hide them.

Which would make them, no longer secrets.

Stef said...

I love memories.

Mimi Sue said...

Sounds like a great place to grow up in your bi-level mansion! So fun seeing you at JABOR's the other day. I didn't burn the place down so I think it was a success. Glad you like the cupola and weathervane. Anytime you feel like it just come on over and sit on my porch. I'll even bring out the Dr. P. Mimi