My Mommy Gah’s yellow Volvo station wagon pulls in my driveway just as I am finishing my daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich snack.
My Nonnie yells, ” your mother is here, run for your lives!!!”
My wise Appalachian grandmother, who knows trouble loves company, told my brother he is in trouble too.
Earlier that afternoon Nonnie explained to Chistopersteinavinsky,
he got the scissors from the house, so he has skin in the game too. I love my Nonnie so much, because it is her way of keeping the brother/sister, male/female dynamic in check, and alive and well in the Peterson household.
My brother, “the brain”, is sitting next to me eating his peanut butter sandwich explaining to me why Mr. Munster is laughing so much,
“Why do he keep laughing”? I ask my brother,
“does”, my brother replies,
“Why does he keep laughing”, I ask again, not understanding what difference it makes
“Because”, my brother replies
And just as my brother is going to explain the meaning of Mr. Munster’s laugh, my Nonnie yells, “ruuunnnnn for your livvvesss, you little turds, ruuunnnn, your mother is home,”
And like the jumping fish in the creek behind Nonnie’s cabin at Bear Waller Holler, I jump up, climb over my brother’s peanut butter plate, new ‘do in tow and run out my back door, only to find my Mommy Gah staring straight down at me with the glare of horror, dismay and resonating dissatisfaction,
“what happen to your hair?” she bellows out, so the whole neighborhood knows she is not pleased with her six year old little girl.
I hesitate, thinking I will be able to out maneuver my creator and I slowly begin inching toward the back door, when all of a sudden Mommy Gah counter blocks my move, grabs the top of my arm and drags me back into my TV room.
And just like my epiphany, that brought “The Take” and “The Walk”, I turn around to face my Mommy Gah, I plant my heels, I lock in and fall to the ground yelling,
“I pulled it out, I pulled it out”, hoping and wishing to protect my brother somehow from the wrath of Mommy Gah and hoping my explanation will help Mommy Gah understand the constant stress I feel trying to keep up with my ever evolving world around me.
“you tell me the truth”, she yells back while tightening her grip on my forearm suggesting a sense of urgency,
But this is my truth I thought.
I was tired of the constant brushing, ponytailing, sit-stilling and waiting that came along with my “blondies”. I had grown frustrated with my brother always being first to the car; first to the bus; first to the grocery store; first to Church.
It seems every woman in my life, except Nonnie and me, is always concerning themselves with how my blondies look.
I just want to beat my brother for once without having to worry about how good my blondies look at the finish line.
My Mommy Gah yanks me up like a weed with no roots and carries me to the bathroom, straining and asking;
“you tell me the truth, what happened to your hair”, she pleads with ever increasing anguish.
And just like that, “A Storyteller” is born,
I scream back, tears streaming down my face, as though the louder I say it, the more true it’ll become,
“I was walking down the hill, Uuh and uhh and uuh and uuh a frog jumped out in front of me, Uuuuh, and I stepped on it,uuh and I rolled down the hill and I hit a rock and it all fell out”!
As I stare into Mommy Gah’s eyes I see a flash of what I will later refer to in my life as “The Bite”. I see Mommy Gah thinking and delaying her response as though my verbal drop shot caught her off guard and her eyes are trying to catch the backspin of it.
I then go for the gold, “That is true, I promise!”
“No it’s not, now you tell me what really happened”, she says back to me, slower and slower as though she is trying to coax the truth out of me and the ice thawing from around her deep blue-green eyes.
My brain pushes into overdrive, thinking and trying to come up with something that will bring us back to what my Mommy Gah and I had before she left for work this morning. I do not like the disapproval I see in her eyes, I have never seen these eyes staring down at me before today.
And as my Mommy Gah waits patiently, I put my thumb and pointing finger to my lips and slowly move my blue eyes down to the crystal clear water of my current residence and I think,
How can I explain to Mommy Gah my growing determination that I knew I could cut my hair earlier because I really wasn’t afraid of her or my Daddy-O or my brother or anyone for that matter. How can I explain, though my blondies were pretty, they were constantly being used against me. How can I explain to Mommy Gah that every time my brother and I get in a fight he pulls on them.
How can I explain to my Mommy Gah that every time we go to the Store, I see the other Daddys starting to look at me differently from my brother, with a look of dismissiveness and yet a smirk of happiness, as though they know something I don’t know.
How can I explain to my Mommy Gah that it seems the longer my blondies get, the less important I feel to myself and the more it seems my brother is taking center stage.
How can I explain to my Mommy Gah that when the short hair boys at school pick me last at kick-ball or dodgeball, there is a feeling of anger inside me that makes my outer shell turn bright red, makes me kick the crap out of all the short hair boys picked before me and I feel bad for doing so.
How do I get Mommy Gah to understand that when the short hair boys realize I am better than they are, they start to tease me, make fun of me, pull on my “blondies” and push me around when the teacher’s not looking.
How can I explain to Mommy Gah, that even though my family gets mad at me for not settling down, for punching my brother too hard, for always talking when Daddy-O’s favorite TV show is on and for terrorizing my neighbor’s cat; that my family comes back to me with hugs and kisses, with forgiveness and with absolute approval of who I am.
How do I explain to my Mommy Gah unlike all the neighborhood kids and the kids at school, I really believe I am superman.
I really know that no one can beat me at anything, and that no one can understand what a constant burden of proof this is everyday.
And though Julie, the welsher girl’s Daddy is a policeman and policemen scare the crap out of me, I think I can even beat him too.
I slowly move my eyes further down the now cold water of my bath and try to think of something I can say to my Mommy Gah that will make her understand who I am and how I feel about things, but when I raise my eyes up a few minutes later, I find my Nonnie standing there instead of Mommy Gah saying with a grin and a
” you really pulled a doozie today, you little shit, but she’ll get over it, in about a year or two, and she might not speak to you for about a month but you’ll live to fight another day”.
And with that said, all my troubles were washed away, or were they….