In a quick post I did yesterday for Facebook, I made mention of my first boyfriend … he still doesn’t know that’s who he was to me. We were five or six, for heaven’s sake. Then, as I thought more about him, memories began to fill my mind and I couldn’t help but laugh.
Jerry’s family and my family were close friends. His grandmother worked as my dad’s secretary at church, he had two sisters, one was older than us and the other was my sister’s age. We all kind of fell into friendship patterns and when we moved away from that little town, we all moved on with our lives. Short, little opportunities to reach out over the years, but nothing much occurred. I had sweet memories of the boy who dared me to suck the ink out of a pen in first grade. That’s a taste I will never forget and a mess that remains forever etched in my memory. It was that day I realized why we were only allowed to have pencils in the classroom. We were definitely not prepared for such great responsibility.
While our parents stayed in touch throughout the next years, we kids had transferred our allegiances to other friends and new schools. If we thought about former friends, it was with the gentle touch that memories give us.
Ten years or so later, though, the family came to visit us in Sigourney. It was great fun, but as only a fifteen year old girl can do, I remembered my elementary crush on Jerry with embarrassment and feared that I might let something slip and humiliate both of us during that meal. I was such a foolish girl, but all of my polite training came in to play and I was pleasant and conversational. He was still pretty cute and that made it worse. Did he ever think of me that way? Would he again? Why did I even care? He was going to leave soon and I would probably never see him again. Oh, could I be any more silly.
The good news is that my mother had all of my embarrassment covered. Oh, she took care of it that day for all of us. In that wonderful old parsonage on Jefferson Street (it was torn down in 1977, saddest days of my life), they had built a bathroom just off the kitchen. There really wasn’t room for a regular door, so they had installed an accordion door. It worked just fine, but you really had to make sure you heard the click when the latch caught or it would slowly slide back, just far enough that it looked like the room might be unoccupied.
I do not know what that woman was thinking. No one used that bathroom when there were guests in the house, we all went upstairs. Jerry, however, had quickly gone in there while we were in the living room. Mom was finishing up a few things for dinner and for some reason or other, she saw that the door wasn’t latched closed and … opened it … on him. He was ready to die, she was … well, she was as ornery as any young man who knew her then remembers.
She had the decency to gasp and slam the door shut, but of course it didn’t latch and with the extra effort she had exerted, it simply pushed itself back open. By this time she was laughing out loud and the poor boy wanted to crawl out the window. They managed to shut the door and when I realized what had just happened, I was fairly confident that if I’d ever had a chance for dating my old crush, it flew out the window before his dignity found the latch.
We made it through the meal and said good-bye and then as mom told us the complete story, our family crumpled onto sofas and chairs in laughter. It was just another day at the Greenwood household … but a memory seared in my mind forever.
Many people ask where I get all of my stories. Some of them have happened to me over the years, some I have observed in other’s lives, and many of them are simply made up as the main story unfolds. But our family was always about the story. Nearly forty years later, I still laugh at what happened that day. The worst thing was, Jerry wasn’t the first boy mom had walked in on in the bathroom and wouldn’t be the last. Rather than be destroyed by it, the event became a story.
Even now, when something happens to one of us, we know that on the other side of everything, whether it was a good or bad occurrence, there will be a story to tell. The best way to tell the story is to find the humor and maybe even the moral in it, then laugh and move on with life.
Because there are a lot more stories to tell when you’re having fun.