Friday, August 23, 2013

Clara, don't do this.

A short piece I wrote about my childhood was published in the 2013 Summer issue of The Southampton Review.  Reading it makes me remember at how much trouble my sisters and I got away with as children and in hindsight, it’s all extremely funny. But then I tallied  up all my bad kid karma points and  wondered when my “what goes around, comes around” karma will come back to haunt me.

And then it hit me.  Clara.

She’s a kid, like I was a kid.  I have been witness to the mischievous glint in her eye as she toddles over to the nightlight and contemplates pulling it out of the socket. Looking at me with a sly smile that seems to say: “You lady, just look over there for a minute, will ya’?” 

All I ask is that Clara waits a few more years before discovering how awesome matches can be.

Here’s the  story from my childhood. (Clara…don’t do this)

Water Bombs
By Jeannine Jones

A friend made on the other side of the building first introduced us to the thrill of throwing something out an open window.  Katherine would glob up a giant wad of toilet paper with her mother's Noxema face cream and throw that hellish snowball out the window onto unsuspecting passerby on Broadway. From her eleventh floor apartment we could occasionally hear the faint cries of outrage as Katherine's Noxema Bombs hit home.
            Back home in our ninth floor apartment, Becky and I lacked the courage to throw anything out the window that might actually hit someone.  Lucky us, our dining room overlooked a nearly-always empty courtyard.  The (almost) sure knowledge that no one was ever down there proved an impossible temptation to resist.
            Our weapon of choice began small - the foldable sandwich baggies we used to pick up our dog's poop up off the street, due to the recently passed Curb Your Dog law. One small baggie filled with water, dropped out the window made a satisfying PLIP. This was soon followed by two, then three, then even four at once - increasing the PLIP to a CLAP as the water made contact.
            Friends invited over for playdates and overnights would marvel at our daring.  Weren't we afraid of being caught?  The answer, simply, was no.  Located conveniently one apartment below us were two brothers, close in age, whose parents got regular visits from the doorman complaining of water bombs in the courtyard.
            Over the years, the sound of small, water-filled baggies striking the ground was no longer novel.  We graduated to plastic produce bags (THWACK!) and even to the larger bags our groceries came in (WHUMP!).
            One night, inspiration struck. I ran to the kitchen to get a trash bag.  Not one of those wimpy white ones for small apartment trash cans, but a HEFTY Lawn and Leaf bag.  With the help of my friend Rob, we filled it as far as we dared in the bathtub. Double knotted and too heavy to carry, it undulated across the floor like the Blob as we pushed it towards its demise.
            It hung there a moment, suspended in the sill, as if deciding which way to go. It slowly gained speed, oozed out the window and sailed into the night air. Endless seconds of silence passed.  Then - like a cannon firing off a shot we were greeted by a reverberating BOOOOOOOOM that rattled windows in their frames.
            We stifled screams and hysterical laughter and hid beneath the Dining Room table - safe in the knowledge, that in a few short minutes, the boys who lived downstairs would be getting a knock on their door.  I would like to say this was the juvenile act of a child.  I was 19.

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