The neighborhood kids often failed to abide by Marys Rules. Rule number one: ‘Don’t make me mad’.
Unfortunately for them, I did not believe my displeasure should be suffered in silence.
Kathy wanted to play freeze-tag. I wanted to play hide-and-go-seek. Another battle for neighborhood domination loomed on the horizon.
“Let’s vote on it,” said Kathy.
“We should talk it over first,” I countered. Based on previous comments by the other kids, I knew Kathy’s idea would win. I preferred to continue brow-beating them to side with me.
“We already talked it over. Let’s vote now,” said Mikey the Betrayer. “Whoever wants to play freeze-tag, raise your hand.”
David and I kept our hands at our sides. I’m not sure if he really preferred to play hide-and-go-seek, or if he didn’t want to spend the rest of the day looking over his shoulder.
“That’s okay, go play with Kill Kathy,” I said, cleverly reversing her first and last names.
“Well no one wants to play with Mary Nor-Ton,” she replied, with the emphasis on ton.
“That’s stupid,” I shot back. “Anyone can see I don’t weigh a ton.” Her comment pressed my anger-button. The fact that I started the name calling; a minor detail.
“Mary Nor-Ton, you weigh a ton,” repeated Kathy.
“Kill Kathy, Kill Kathy,” I yelled at her retreating back.
Kathy, Connie, Mikey, Deedee, Janie, and David played tag. It looked like fun, but I sat on our porch ignoring them.
At lunchtime, our front yard became quiet when everyone, except me, went inside. I was mad. In case that fact escaped anyone’s attention, I felt obligated to enlighten them.
The Kill’s mailbox stood next to ours, in our front yard. I walked over and filled it with grass clippings from our lawn and crushed stones from the side of the road. Hmmm, not quite adequate.
I ran inside and got scotch tape. I secured their mailbox door with yards of tape and cheerfully walked down to LaCross’s. Their mailbox received the same treatment. I returned to our yard and headed up toward Vail’s.
“Mary Barbara, come inside for lunch.” Mom stood on the front porch waiting.
I climbed up our cement-block steps and went inside. I was out of scotch tape anyway.
After lunch, I sat in a corner of the living room, singing along to my collection of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans records. Mom sat on the sofa reading.
I sang extra loud, so Mom could see how talented I was and that I knew all the words. “Come’n git it, come’n git it, happy hungry chuck-wagon song. News for Bill, and news for Roy, his wife just had a baby boy. Oh she’s pretty and good look’n, he’s the one that does the cook’n.”
The phone rang, taking away my audience.
Mom’s voice sounded perturbed and I got a sneaky suspicion the other kids had gotten me into trouble again. “She did what? I don’t know what possesses that girl. I am so sorry. Yes, I’ll send her right down.”
Mom set the phone back on the cradle, and it immediately rang again.
“Yes Eunice, I know. Irene just called. I am at my wit’s end with her. I don’t know what to say except that I’m very sorry. She’ll fix it after she goes to LaCross’s.”
Mikey and Deedee watched from their picture window, while I picked at the sun-baked scotch tape with my fingernails. I was halfway finished when they came outside.
“Mom said we didn’t have to help, but we wanted to see what you did,” said Deedee.
I crossed them off my bad list. Boy, would I give anything to be Santa for just one year.
I walked up to Kill’s mailbox. From across the road, Kathy, Connie, and several younger brothers and sisters watched from their picture window, laughing. So I left a little tape stuck on the outside and a few stones inside. I marched across our lawn and stomped up the steps to our front porch. Mom met me at the door.
“There better not be one piece of tape, one blade of grass, or one stone left.”
I sighed, and headed back to Kill’s mailbox.
Lesson learned: He who laughs last, laughs best, isn’t fun unless I’m last.
Now it’s your turn: What non-traditional item did you place in your neighbor’s mailbox?
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