Every family has its own individual lunacies, though my own family seems to have a few more than most.
Number One Son was due home for a visit, a few weeks back, and I spent a happy couple of hours cleaning his room in anticipation. Though he’s 25 now, it still looks much the same as it did when he was a small boy: shelves burdened with books, bunk beds, paint in two shades of blue separated by an under-the-sea wallpaper strip, deep blue carpet.
Vacuuming that carpet always brings a grin to my face—it’s never been quite the same since the chicken incident.
It was a long, hot August afternoon, 1994 or thereabouts. Christopher, my older son, was 6, and just out of first grade. He had made a good friend at school that year, a little guy we’ll call Calvin. Christopher had Calvin over that afternoon, and they were up in his room playing quietly. Erik, just a year and a half, still took a good afternoon nap most days.
It was a perfect opportunity, and I was on it like a duck on a June bug: I retired to the shady porch swing with a murder mystery and a pitcher of lemonade. It was something like an hour later I realized things had been far too quiet for far too long.
Going upstairs to investigate, I found Erik still asleep, and I was actually congratulating myself on my well-behaved sons when I opened Christopher’s door.
What met my eyes was a mess. Not just any mess, mind, but a king-sized, ring-tailed, sockdologer of a mess: a huge, lumpy pile of sticky white stuff. The miscreants looked up at me with hemispheric smiles, and Christopher proudly declared, “We’re making a chicken, Mama!”
Indeed, they were. They had managed to nick a reasonable amount of frozen chicken parts and pieces from the chest freezer in the basement for the bulk of their creation, and stuck them together with most of a pint of white glue. The resulting horror had been liberally coated with what had been the contents of a feather pillow. What glue hadn’t adhered to the chicken was fast soaking into the carpet, ground in by the diminutive Frankensteins’ knees.
When the red haze cleared and my power of speech returned, I sent Calvin home in ignominy. Christopher was relegated to the naughty corner, and the next several hours went to removal of the monstrosity. Despite repeated scrubbings, the carpet remained resolutely sticky, eventually drying to an unpleasantly crunchy texture not normally found in soft furnishings. At that point, I was so exhausted I made a dreadful mistake: I phoned my mother for sympathy.
After hearing my tale of calamity, she calmly reminded me of a similar long, hot afternoon in the summer of 1965. That afternoon, a small friend and I had decided to beat the heat by ice skating. Lacking both a skating rink and the ability to ice skate, we decided to improvise, using a hardwood floor and a pound jar of Vaseline. It worked a treat, too—at least, it did until my mother caught us….
If anybody tells you karma doesn’t work, feel free to tell ‘em they’re a liar—and you can tell ‘em I said you could.