Monday, April 30, 2007

I should have known better than to play with matches....

We were pretty in polka dots. Kimbies and I. She, tall and Indian dark, French braids cascading down her neck. Me. Toothless. With my dirty-mop colored hair chopped off to match my Barbie doll. Our mama dressed us in identical little dresses so we could swirl and smile and impress the masses… “the company”.

I cringed. My knotty little knees were always dirty and scraped from crawling in spaces and places best meant for cats, my fingernails were frayed and fringed, not from nail biting, but dirt digging. I liked to dig in the dirt. Kimbies just smiled. Like a good child should. I grinned. And showed off that “I yanked it out myself” toothless overbite . There aren’t a lot of pictures to back up this story…….

Our parents partied. They had cook-outs and poker games, they drank cocktails and champagne, they danced in the living room. And they had “company”. People that came to visit in long black cars. People that smelled good. Tanned women with cleavage. Men with cigars.

We were allowed to smile…..

And never, ever interrupt……

The “warming” was on a Saturday. The unveiling of the massive addition to the back of the house….the den with its hand carved bar and baroque antique cash register, the “guest rooms”….

I was getting out of it. Only had to wear the pink velvet empire waisted dress for about 20 minutes. While the “company” arrived. Then I could go…

I flew back to my bedroom, peeled the scratchy thing off my bony body and tried on my Trainer. Mama had brought it home for just this occasion. I adjusted the tiny little triangles. Tugged on it a little. Perfect. The elastic straps flopped from my shoulders. Yup, that’s the way it’s supposed to fit.

I grabbed my plastic Brownie pocket book and put the price tags from my very first Bra in it. Keeper. Pulled the uniform over my head, plopped on the floor in my "Saturday" underwear and yanked on the dirty brown socks and a pair of filthy Ked sneakers. Grabbed the musty ole sleeping bag from the corner of the room, borrowed, not bought for the occasion, and started to lug it all out of the house…..

“Sweetie, could you turn the bacon wraps onto low?” my Mama purred at me, as I passed. ’Course! I plunked the stinky sleeping bag down and reached up and counted the little white push buttons. Hit the one next to the red one. OFF!

“It’s almost time for the camp-out, Mommy” I hollered into the empty part of the house. Voices, laughter, cigar smoke, billowed back at me. But not Mama.

I grinned. Drug the dirty sleeping bag out the kitchen door and kicked it down the drive way. Waiting on my ride. I sat on the concrete, legs unlady-like, and waited. Scribbled elementary graffiti onto the bleached white surface with a stick. Chewed my feather-like fingernails. Every time I heard a car engine, I jumped up. Waited. Plopped back down on the concrete. It was taking FOREVER to go on my very first Brownie camp-out ever!

The cigar smoke was getting thick. It sort of crawled out the kitchen door. It was yucky and black. I got up and trudged up the slope to SLAM the kitchen door.

And then I saw it. Felt it. Heard it. The flames. Orange and alive. Licking the kitchen cabinets. Snapping, crackling, making Jiffy-Pop noises. Painting pretty psychedelic designs on the curtains. And it was hot. Really hot.

I ran fast, without tripping once, to our pretty-in-pink bedroom and bellowed at Kimbies…. "The damn kitchen is on fire!” Her brown eyes, like frozen chocolate donuts, pasted themselves onto mine. Her dark little fingers dropped the perfect Barbie with her hair still in the plastic sleeve into the little pink convertible and…..

We ran.
Fast.

And stared.
At the fire.

And then we tiptoed through the new French doors. Holding hands. Past the bartender. And the lady with the big boobs. Out the back door into the moonlight. Where the “company” was in full swing. We searched the hemlines and toe rings (yup, our Mom had one of those), the wing tips, and sports jackets….the voices in the night air…..for Mom or Dad.

We found him first. Flocked by three handsome “Are you a movie star?” men, engaged in hearty conversation. We tugged on his pant leg. He rubbed my chopped off hair. I did that thing with my legs that I did when I was gonna wet my pants in exactly twenty seconds. They kept blabbering.

Finally…….

With that woo-you voice, he bent down and tenderly took both of our chins into his massive hands and whispered “My dearest, darling daughters, what can I do for you?”

And we yelped and welped and jumped and leaped …..

“THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!”

22 comments:

Bardouble29 said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! How well behaved, but I would have been whooping and hollering!!! Course I have never been good at being all lady like.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Lol...Never, ever interupt the 'company'! I can completely imagine everything you describe.

Scott from Oregon said...

Blame it all on the cigars. Heck I would have...

These are some really nice snippets you got strewn around here...

I sure like what hippies get up to...

Spadoman said...

As I read about your life, I think about mine. I haven't gone way back, back before I graduated high school, in a long long time. There was a whole life back then. You inspire me. I'll write. I wanna do it too! Like you do it Singleton. Your stories are great! We all have em'. Just gotta tell em'. I like to puff on a really good cigar. Father-n-law started the kitchen on fire after he put mastic on the wall for tile as Mother-in-law lit up a Pall Mall. Thanks.

singleton said...

Bardouble...LOL! We hooped and hollered,too! We just waited! And once the house burned down, that pretty much so did away with "children are to be seen and not heard" rules, and, oh yeah, the matching dresses!

SLB....LOL! Wonder why?

Scott...You're onto us! Saved the "I dunno. Must be the cigar smoke"....alibi for a little later in life, sometime after the Brownies....

Sweetspado....Light up that cigar and bang on that keyboard! It's funny, how now, I see so many of those little moments of innocence twined into the things that happen today....BTW, I'm glad I don't smoke Pall Malls, I would've blown up this house a long time ago!

Blue the Spa Girl said...

Your writing is incredible. I love it. Words fail me. Your stories are fantastic. This one really painted a picture of childhood that I had long blocked out or forgotten, yet you recall it, like it was yesterday. Way to go.

Fuzzylogic said...

Another beautiful post. I love the way you string the words and give the memories its life Singleton. Beautiful!

she said...

i might be able to give up chocolate if i keep reading your stories

-they are that delicious ")

wreckless said...

You really ought to pursue writing. I have my own fire tale, but I wish I had you to tell it. I am just too cut to the chase writer. Thanks for being an inspiration!

singleton said...

Blue....I should probably have blocked this one out too! A little too much pyromania in my background! LOL! If only this were the ONLY firestarter story!

fuzzylogic....sometimes the memories give me life....thank you

she...nah! Keep indulging on your bon-bons, I'll keep drinking Michelobs, and we all just get a little fatter telling stories!

wreckless...do share! do! I knew I was in good company!

JR's Thumbprints said...

This is exactly why children SHOULD be seen as well as HEARD.

just me said...

Wonderful story, and wonderfully written!! Now, what happened next??

singleton said...

JR....yup! :)

just me....TY! they moved the party into the street, the firetrucks and all that hoo-hah came and I missed my very first camp-out ever! Oh, and for the most part, the house burned down.....Crazy!

JustRun said...

I had a very similar experience when our fence was set on fire as a kid. I was not allowed to barge into a room, ever and had so much hesitation (5 minutes seemed like 5 hours) even though THE FENCE WAS ON FIRE!

vicci said...

Holy shit! What happened? I can just picture it! I think your parents must be Saints! Your writing is the BEST EVER my Dear! :-)

Anonymous said...

Sister...I love you & am missing you sorely. Am counting down the days & trying to find some pennies to save ...do you think the Tiki Spot will let me pay in rocks? GLIYSVM
SLB

Orhan Kahn said...

Aw, where is the rest of the story! Not impressed :(

You paint yourself as one very free-minded child. That in itself is beautiful.

singleton said...

justrun....Are we related?

vicci....LOL! I was thinking WE were the Saints!

SLB....Silly girl, hiding behind the mask...Of course they will! How else will we pay for beer?

Orhan.... "To be continued..." :)

Shrink wrapped scream said...

Powerful. You sucked me in with the first line.. and I still want to whisper, "What then?"

I'll be back!

singleton said...

Shrink wrapped....Well, you've done the same. Scream....whisper....in the same breath! I love it!

The Butterfly Bar said...

You pulled me in, too! I forgot what wonders were to be found back here in the past...

You were free, and yet you observed the do not interrupt rule to a T.

I hope it all was straightened out...

singleton said...

Oh Eric, it all worked out, half the house burned down and we had to move to the beach for the summer.......When we came back, Mama wouldn't sleep there, and so....off we went to North Hill....where we lived our childhoods....! And yeah, I'm still not a cook!