This blog was inspired by Sweet Mother. Visit her blog and I promise you’ll have more than a few laugh-out-loud moments.
A blog of hers struck a chord with me, triggered a few childhood memories. How does our sense of fun get all cluttered up with distractions? I know, I know; work, job, kids (in my case two dogs but they ARE my children), paying bills and all that other junk that we fret and worry so much over.
But, it’s those moments in life that we can glean inspiration from. Memories are like mental photo albums. We can flip through them at our leisure and even during the worst of times, smile and remember.
Secret Agent Natasha Hossenfetter
I adored my older sister. She was three years older than me and I worshiped her. She was fearless. The rebellious one. My parents said she never stopped climbing and was “constantly into something” ever since she could crawl. I wanted to be just like her, but I was a nearsighted child who loved to draw, paint and read. Sister (that’s what we all called her and still do) was way more outdoorsy. She’d climb trees, dig in the dirt and ride a mini-bike in our backyard.
When I was in the third grade, I had to get my first pair of glasses and the boy (let’s call him Brown-Haired Mean Freak Boy (BHMFB)) I liked said to me: “You look like a ugly monkey. I don’t like you anymore.” I was devastated, heartbroken and had to go home early (very sensitive little soul I was). My Dad picked me up and took me for ice cream. I still had to wear the stupid glasses though.
Here’s how it went down the next day in the schoolyard between Sister and BHMFB
Sister: “Hey, you!”
She grabbed his shirt collar and bent down so that her face was just an inch away from his. “If you ever call my sister a monkey again, I’ll find you and I’ll beat the crap outta you. Now you tell her YOU’RE SORRY.”
BHMFB: Whimpering, “I’m sorry.”
She let go of his shirt collar and punched him in the arm. (She was Rebecca De Mornay Hand That Rocks the Cradle scary). She stomped away, giving me a wink when she passed me as I leaned awkwardly against the monkey bars. He never said a mean word to me again.
That devilish nature of hers was always seeking a victim to torture and one day it was me. I was out in the backyard in a swing, reading. I was eight, she was eleven. She walked over to me and said quietly, “Brigitte, come into the storage room. I want to show you something.”
I gladly trailed behind her. I loved it when she’d play with me. Usually, she have her own friends over and totally ignore me. This day I was her chosen one — oh lucky me!
We had a garage with a room on top of it. It had a jukebox, pool table, refrigerator and some small furniture. The garage opened to the driveway and on the back side of it was what we called the storage room. The storage room had the stairway that led up to the room on top, which my parents always kept locked. It was dark and dusty with a concrete floor. You had to step up and over to get into it. There was a hanging bulb from a string in there — that was all the light there was. A small metal chair sat in the middle of the room. Sister told me to sit down. I did and she told me to put my hands back around the chair and she tied then together with an old rag.
Me: “Sister, stop it. I know you’re not a secret agent and why would anybody want to watch me anyway.” I laughed and twisted around in my seat moving my hands around, trying to get loose. She’d tied the bottom part to the rungs of the chair and my fingers couldn’t reach the ends.
Sister: “If you tell anyone my identity, I will kill you. Don’t risk the same fate as your Sister!” She paced back and forth as she said this and pointed her finger at me. “My company believes you may be involved in some shady dealings. Unfortunately, your sister got in the way and had to be eliminated.”
Me: “I’m going to tell Mom on you. Untie me and stop it!” I was starting to believe her just a little. I was very gullible. GUL – A – BLE.
Sister: “I’m going to leave you here until you’re ready to talk!” She pulled the string on the lightbulb and started walking toward the door.
Me: “I am so going to tell! Don’t leave me here! Don’t close the door! It’s dark in here!” I was almost crying.
Sister walked over to the door and opened it. She turned, silhouetted against the bright outside and said menacingly, “When you’re ready to talk.” She stepped up and over the doorstep and creaked the door almost closed, leaving a precious line of light. I heard her giggling.
Needless to say, she did eventually let me out (seriously, it was probably all of five minutes). When she untied me, she said she saw a girl running away that looked just like her. Maybe Natasha Hossenfetter was in Tennessee at one time. Who’s to say?
My Short Career in Ventriloquism
When I turned nine years old, I was finished with dolls. They were suddenly of no interest to me and when November came around, we all made our lists of what we wanted Santa to bring us. That year, I wanted a Charlie McCarthy doll. I don’t know if I saw a ventriloquist on television, in a catalogue or what, but I pictured myself as a successful ventriloquist. I would master it, become famous, tour the world.
Santa brought Charlie that year. He wore a suit, hat and patent-leather dress shoes. He had a monocle on his face that was attached to his suit and his face had a dent in it that kept the monocle in place. His eyes would shift around, his head would turn and his hinged mouth would open and close at my bidding. I began practicing as soon as I woke up Christmas morning and found him sitting on the couch beneath a sign I’d taped on the cushion that read “Brigitte.” We all did that, each of us claiming a space with our names on signs so there was no confusing Santa as to what went where.
I sat Charlie on my lap and starting talking to him. I’d practiced talking through my teeth way before Christmas so I thought I had it down pretty good. So with Charlie on my lap and my hand up his back, I turned his head over to my sisters. His eyes rolled from side to side.
Charlie: “Hello, girls! Did Santa bring you everything you wanted?” I looked at Charlie as I said this, smiling through clenched teeth.
Sister: “I can see your mouth moving.”
Charlie: “No, Brigitte’s not talking, it’s me! Charlie McCarthy!” His mouth clicked open and shut, not matching his talking. My little arm was inside his back and I’d try to work his mouth with my thumb on this little lever-thing. His eyes required another lever-thing. It was really hard to do everything at one time.
Younger Sister: “I can see your mouth moving too.” She sniffed loudly and picked up a doll. “It’s stupid, Brigitte.”
Toddler Sister: “Bad!” She penguin-walked over to Charlie and slapped him, his monocle falling off his face. She tugged on the string, tore it off and threw it across the room.
Me: “Stop it!” I picked up the monocle and stomped into kitchen telling Mom and Daddy they were all making fun of me. I could tell they were trying not to laugh. They told me to practice more.
I half-heartedly tried to improve, but when I’d sit him down at night, I’d wake up and see him staring at me. I’d get up and stuff him into the case and put him in the closet, but then I’d feel bad about that. It was weird, he seemed real. My sisters all started calling me Charlie instead of Brigitte and I did not want to go through life with that namesake.
A few months later I went up to our attic. It was unfinished and there was a space between the floor and the wall. I threw Charlie down into that space. Poor Charlie, he haunts me still. May he rest in peace.