My first morning of second grade starts with my Mommy Gah doing the “nudge-and-a poke” shuffle; my Daddy-O following with the “are you gonna sleep all day” spotlight; and my brother pitching the “you’re going to miss the school bus” speech.
I begin my day like most other days; brushing my teeth with my brother’s toothbrush, shuffling my feet until I reach the door on the right, falling back asleep on my white water bucket next to my swimming pool, listening to my Mommy Gah preach her morning sermon about doing better and helping more around our house. She keeps telling my brother and I to be nicer to one another and to quit hitting each other for Pete’s sake (Pete’s my Daddy-O’s nickname, so this always made sense to me)
Her morning hymnal “I mean it” is playing every five minutes and I’m beginning to sink into my morning haze of staring in my half eaten cereal bowl of milk when Mommy Gah throws her hand in the air and yells (like my Ma-maw’s guy friend who lives in the big blue room and who is always throwing his hand in the air asking for help),
“The bus is here!” and like my Ma-maw’s friend, no one in my house is getting up to see what Mommy Gah is yelling about.
And just like Ma-maw’s friend in the big blue room, Mommy Gah raises both hands even higher and screams,
“The buuussss is here, huurrryyy!!!”
I board my big yellow bus to find one of the Darling sons from The Andy show in my bus driver’s chair.
“Where did Miss Vicky go”? I ask the fat man with the snarl and overbite like the catfish who swims at my Daddy-O’s favorite hushpuppy restaurant.
“she went to work somewheres else”, the catfish tells me
“where’d she go”? I ask
“hey is that your house up yonder?” the catfish replies
I’m suspicious of the Catfish’s question because my Aunt Patti is always telling me not to talk to strangers even if I think they are helping me. So I decide to walk past the Catfish’s question only to find the Catfish will not easily be ignored.
“hey is you Pete’s boy?”, the catfish ask with a softball wad of chewing tobacco and a fountain of spit dripping from his whiskers.
You see, after the unfortunate haircut “accident” of 1976 where Julie, the welsher, neighborhood enemy of mine refused to pay me my negotiated dollar she bet me even though I sheered my scalp within an inch of my life, I’m not very trusting anymore. After all, it was Julie’s fault I began my career in “stories”.
Until the “Ice Storm of 1976” hit, I was your typical six year old cutie pie little girl named Michele Peterson. But since the unfortunate or fortunate (depending on how you look at it) haircut accident, I’m now known as “Michael Peterson”, my brother’s blond, short haired twin and my nemesis is the men’s bathroom door.