Friday, August 3, 2018

The Closet, the Banister, and Just Flip it Over Really Fast

"Who's watching me tonight?" Having three older brothers meant never having a babysitter, just one of them taking their turn. And whatever that evening might hold.

There was the time Paul was watching me and rain flooded the basement. I didn't think to tell him. Instead I just kept playing with my Barbies in several inches of water until my mom got home. When Michael was in charge, he rode his bike into an iron gate, and an ambulance driver that just happened to be in the neighborhood knocked on our door to inform the rest of us that he was taking our brother to the ER. When it was Jimmy's turn, he forgot he was filling the bathtub, went outside, and all of that water rained down on our kitchen. Then, there was the time I call "the closet, the banister, and just flip it over really fast".

My parents were at one of my cousin's weddings, and Michael was watching us. A bunch of neighborhood boys came in and played an all house hide and seek game. My sister Vicki and I were happy spectators down in the living room. Just as whoever was counting called, "Ready or not, here I come!" there was a slow motion rumble, and a huge grunt from upstairs in my mother's closet. The entire contents of the closet's top shelf and double pole of clothes collapsed onto our neighbor John Stewart. Laughing, I did tumblesaults back and forth in the living room while Vicki went up the stairs to slide down the banister, but her foot got tangled. She tumbled over the side and landed on her arm at the bottom of the stairs. Hide and seek was over.

As she lay there surrounded by Michael and Jimmy and all of the other boys, she told them that she couldn't move her arm. "Just flip it over really fast." John Stewart instructed her while he demonstrated, turning his arm over. "My cousin had that happen and he flipped it over really fast and it was fine."

Vicki protested that she couldn't flip it over, so they rang the doorbell of our next-door neighbor Pauline because she wore some kind of medical uniform. But she couldn't help. Then, they called our Aunt Julia who came with our cousin Jimmy who worked at the local hospital. I don't know what he did there but I had seen him in his scrubs. Jimmy and Aunt Julia engaged in a little argument, where he said there was nothing he could do at the hospital, and she insisted that if he went in and told them he worked there, they would motion him in with open arms. Somewhere in all of that, they left with Vicki. My brothers and the other boys switched to playing cards in the dining room.

Meanwhile, Pauline and her husband were having a party. She invited me because she felt sorry that I was sitting in a house full of boys. I was actually fine with all the boys but didn't want to waste an opportunity to hang out with my very young and hip neighbors. Her friends showered me with attention and at one point one of them said, "Look at this poor thing! She looks so tired!" I proceeded to purposely look more tired for the effect. Pauline took me up to her toddler daughter's beautiful girly bedroom and offered to let me sleep there. I had never been on a sleepover and this looked like fun, but I got nervous and said no. Back at my house, I laid on the living room couch and watched Oliver! even though I thought it was creepy. I woke up to the sight of my mother and Aunt Loretta in full length dresses finding out about the "just flip it over really fast" arm. The next morning Vicki had a brand new cast on her broken arm, and my mother had a closet to rebuild.

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