The author and her younger brother, John.
Kids, don’t try this “hot” act at home – My little sisters decided to re-enact the “Wessonality” oil commercial of the 70s one boring afternoon.
Perhaps you recall the ad where Florence Henderson shows a square piece of deep-fried bread, looking golden and crunchy on the outside, fluffy and white on the inside. These two little darlings decided that they wanted to eat a piece of bread like the one in the commercial (after they applied a thick layer of the peanut butter chosen by choosy mothers).
What they failed to comprehend was that deep fryers are dangerous. They let the oil heat up until it was hot enough to melt steel. Then they dropped in the piece of bread. Luckily only the curtains and walls suffered slight charring. Mom was suspicious at the time that “something happened” in the kitchen. I’m not sure if anyone ever informed her of the details of the incident.
Pajama Party Pranksters – How many pajamafied preteen girls does it take to get your little brother to wet the bed? At least six – two to hold the bowl of warm water, two to hold his fingers in the bowl of water, and two more to act as giggly guards on the lookout for intruders who might wonder what all the hubbub was in Junior’s room at 3:47 a.m.
Let the record show that this prank never worked, at least not on either of my little brothers. Although come to think of it, I may have seen my youngest brother smiling while his hand was under water. The only prank that really worked well at any of my slumber parties was a mean trick my so-called friends played on yours truly. I guess it was my punishment for falling asleep before they did.
Somebody conceived the great idea of applying a thick line of toothpaste across each of my closed eyelids. I began dreaming that a crazed pyromaniac was practicing on my face by setting my eyes on fire.
I awoke to deafening laughter as my assailants realized the fruit of their labor.
The main thing wrong with this prank is that they used a little too much toothpaste and years later there were serious problems when my eyelids tried to grow back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. To this day, my eyes sparkle and smell clean and minty.
Miscellaneous Bathroom Mishaps:
younger brother snacked on the chocolates he found in the bathroom, which unexpectedly became his favorite place for the next three days while the Choco-Lax worked.
Another brother found my bottle of Cramps-Be-Gone in the medicine cabinet and sold them to his friends as speed.
A little sister wanted that squeaky clean feeling and poured a bottle of drain cleaner across her thighs while seated on the potty. This mishap burned her skin, but she has never had any problems with clogged urine.
At age 3, my other baby sister discovered that Daddy stored his haircutting kit under the sink and proceeded to give herself a lopsided crew cut. Luckily it was close to Halloween, so we didn’t have to buy her a costume that year.
Early Head Banging – There isn’t much to do in Western Pennsylvania when you’re ten and it’s January, so you and your friends are forced to think up new and unusual things to do. Like playing “Dare.” A few decades back when I was growing up the “Truth” part of the game hadn’t been invented yet.
One such afternoon while several of us congregated across the street at my second best friend’s house, she dared me to jump from the fourth step of her living room staircase. It sounded like a reasonable request, so I successfully carried out the challenge.
Everyone was impressed. In fact, it was such a well executed stunt that someone dared me to jump from the fifth step up. Riding the victory wave, I brazenly climbed back up the steps to number five. This time as I soared gracefully down the stairs, and the magnificent sense of being able to fly permeated my exuberantly youthful realm. I landed with ease on the carpeted landing at the bottom of the steps.
“Wow,” remarked my friend’s older brother who was never impressed with anything. “I’ll bet you can’t do that from the sixth step.”
Full of misguided self-confidence, I ascended to the sixth step and looked down at my friends, who were so tiny that they looked like ants. I jumped, springing upward in my descent. That’s when the unforeseen mishap occurred. What I had failed to take into account was at this elevation there was an obstacle to contend with – the upstairs wall.
A split second after takeoff, my forehead crashed into this small fragment of unexpected wall. After the hit, I fell straight downward and landed in a crumpled heap on the floor.
“Are you okay?” I heard my friend ask from a distant cloud.
Shakily, I rose to my feet and shook off the injury, thanking the powers that be that there were no adults in this part of the house. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Whew,” said her big brother. “We were worried.” He shook his head with mock concern. “Seeing’s how you’re okay, I dare you to jump from the seventh step.”
Operation: Grandma’s House – When my little brother was three years old, he developed a hankering to visit Grandma’s house on the other side of town.
After Mom told him we couldn’t go, he made the decision to go to Grandma’s house on his own. Without letting anyone know, he slipped out of the house and proceeded down the highway. Literally.
A short time later, my mother noticed that the house was “too quiet.” This caused her to notice that one of her brood had moved on in search of a better place. She called Dad at work and then scoured the neighborhood shouting her son’s name until her voice was hoarse. She interviewed neighbors and called the police.
Three hours and two boxes of tissues later, the National Guard located my brother several miles away. He had made excellent progress for such a miniature pedestrian, crossing dangerous intersections and busy streets.
Upon his safe return, my mother hugged him and asked, “Junior, how did you manage to cross all those busy streets without getting run over?”
He smiled triumphantly and announced, “It was easy. Whenever I came to a street and started to cross, the cars all stopped for me!”
Peachy keen – I probably shouldn’t print this in the unlikely event that my mother might fire up her computer and peruse the internet, but I’m feeling frisky today. This confession involves the ultimate stupid thing I ever did.
When I was very young, I was in love with all kinds of fruit. Nothing made my day complete like a mouth-watering slice of juicy watermelon, a hefty serving of frozen mushy strawberries on my corn flakes, or a tangy fresh peach.
Wanting to take this fruity adoration to the next level, I fell victim to a cruel prank. My trouble-making teenage uncle told me that if I swallowed watermelon seeds, a watermelon would grow inside of me. Rather than feeling repulsed by this concept, an idea sprouted, and I decided to tackle a fresh new project. I decided it was time to grow my own fruit in the garden otherwise known as my tummy.
Shortly after he revealed this erroneous information, I began swallowing watermelon seeds in an effort to start the homegrown process. But to no avail. No matter how many seeds I swallowed, I did not burp up any of the luscious green melons.
So one sunny afternoon, I decided to try a different approach to creating my own orchard. I deduced that watermelons were too big to grow in my child-sized stomach, so I opted to try a more realistic, smaller fruit.
I removed a delicious looking peach from our crisper drawer, took it outside behind the garage, and devoured it.
My little-girl chin dripping with peachy juice, I studied the pit, knowing what I needed to do to get the job done in a “fruit”ful manner.
I bit off the sharp edges, then put the pit in my mouth, and swallowed it.
I grew a little nervous when the pit got stuck in the middle of my throat, so I started rubbing my neck in an effort to get it to go all the way down. Eventually I did manage to swallow the pit, and I danced back into the house, smiling with confidence at my secret accomplishment.
Yes, I know now that I could have, might have, and probably should have choked to death that fateful day when I decided to grow peaches in my tummy. Nobody knew I was out there, sneaking around in the shadows of our yard, trying desperately to create my own inventory of fruit.
But miraculously, I didn’t choke, and I never did get any peaches to grow. These days, I have a thriving cherry tree in the backyard. Just in case my kids get any outrageous notions, cherry pits are nice and small.
To this day, I’m still trying to figure out how I survived that pit-swallowing event.
It just goes to show that survival is a family characteristic. Unless, of course, my Mom reads this memoir and cuts my lifespan short.