Friday, February 25, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise!

I was furiously searching through a trunk full of the flotsam and jetsam I have hoarded collected through the years...and I found this...a story written by my dad. I never did find the photo I was looking for.   I have no clue where it came from, why I have it, or how it survived the fire.  I don't remember the circumstances that led me to having this piece of paper.  I have a poem he wrote because I gave a copy to someone, but this is a complete surprise.  I want to record it here in case something happens to it.  I got a good laugh out of it, I thought you might too.

"Very early in my life, about age two, my father was in prison.  My mother was young, for the time, to be trying to be a single parent, and my grandmother went to court and won custody of me. So, until my twelfth birthday, I was raised by my Grandparents, and my Uncle. Mom would come to visit, but often, it was with a boyfriend, or to take me to a movie theater, when she would tell me to call her "sister" so the guys wouldn't know she had a child.  Well, I usually fixed that with a "Mommy, I mean, sister...".
Grandma was a strange person.  She used to say that grandpa raped her three times, and she had three children.  He should have walked.  She said that Jesus was her lover.  She prayed almost constantly. I remember her praying one time, and asked the Lord, "What should I do with Jimmie? How can I get him to mind? Well, she must have gotten a message from Hell, 'cause she started switching me some with limbs from the plum tree.
I washed a cat once.  Well, how does a kid under six know that a cat doesn't like water?  I just thought he wanted to be dirty. I remember him well, or was it a her?  Anyway, ti was a grey tiger, and just did fit into the bathroom sink.  Barley.  I found the cat in the alley.  It wasn't too hard to sneak it into the house and into the bathroom.  I sat it down on the toilet seat and petted it a little, just to get it to relax.  It curled up and lay down to  sleep.
That's when I went to work.  I plugged the sink, sprinkled in some bath powder, some flowery smelling stuff Grandma used, smelled like Lilly of the Valley or something, and began to fill the sink with hot water.  About that time, Grandma smelled a rat, or some flowers, and asked what I was doing in the bathroom.  Now, I ask you what kind of question is that? What would a four or five year old boy be doing int he bathroom?  I shut off the water, and said "Washing my hands, Grandma." She was curious, but not yet quite suspicious, "Hurry on, now."  That was how Grandma talked.  She was always saying "Be careful, now." or "Don't fall, now." Now? How about later? In any case, I had to hurry, very soon she'd be asking me again what was going on.
The cat was beginning to look a little strangely at me by now, knowing the door was shut and all.  As I reached for it, it seemed to sense something and just began to jump off the toilet when I caught it, both hands.  Head in left hand and bottom in right.  The legs safely extended between my fingers.  You see, cats were not my favorite friends.  I was a dog person.  Cats would bite me.  OR scratch, so, I'd learned how to hold a cat safely sometime before.  Safely for me that is.  Now, this cat was no dummy.  Just about now, it was figuring out I wasn't about t carry him to the kitchen or something. Squirm as it might, I had a good hold.  By the time I got to the sink, I had hold of a frantic, screaming mass of fur and points.  Sharp points!
Grandma was banging on the door, "Jimmie, Jimmie! What's going on in there?" What would you say? "Nothing Grandma. I'll be out in a minute." I had to hurry. I plunged the ball of hell through the clouds of suds, and into the scalding water, and started to scrub.  At that instant, time seemed to stand still. I saw the cat's face.  It looked surprised.  Well, more that surprised.  It was more like unbelief, shock, and frenetic all wrapped into one.  To say it's eyes were open would be an understatement.  Like saying the sky is blue. "Oh, really?"  This cat's eyes are OPEN.  I was holding with my left hand, the one with the head, and rubbing like crazy with my right, all over it's body, sudsing it really good.
Of a sudden, a sound began to radiate from the cat. It began at the level of a  fire siren, and went up from there.  The cat began to scratch.  Now, or sink was porcelain.  If you don't know what porcelain is, it is a glass-like finish, baked onto a cast-iron base.  These sinks were made to last a lifetime.  Well, apparently the cat was loosing one of it's lives.  That cat dug in with both front feet. and began to try to dig a hole in the sink to get out.  Chips of glass-like porcelain began to fly, and I let go.
Now, I've made mistakes in my life.  Really, I have.  This one was one of my first.  Don't ever let go of a wet cat in a small, closed, bathroom.  It never saw the floor.  The first stop was the door, head-on.  Then, a left turn sent him along the wall over the toilet.  Around the wall that cat went, screaming all the time.  The cat had so much momentum, he just kept going around and around, never slowing a bit.  Grandma got frantic.  "JIMMIE!!!" I tried to unlock the door, but with her pushing on it, and the cat making a round every half-second, it seemed like I just couldn't get it done.
Finally, i got the latch pulled, and Grandma opened the door, just in time to make acquaintance with my new friend "wetcat".  He hit her with all fours, right on the chest, took one look at her, and she at him, then off again to find some means of egress.  Ol' Trigger, my street mutt was on the dining room and was hardly touched, but up he came!  Tail up, ears up, and off he went, in hot pursuit!  This was just too much.  That cat went straight for the screen door, and went right through it. 
IT wasn't often that Grandma was at a loss for words, but this was one of those times.  She stood there, int he doorway, staring at me.  Never being a child to miss an opportunity, I slowly inched by her and went hell-bent for the closet.  We had an interesting arrangement with the closets in our bedrooms.  It was possible to pass from one bedroom to another without leaving the closet.  When I was in trouble, I'd head for the closet, and listen or watch Grandma looking for me.  As soon as she would look under the table and start for her bedroom, I'd scoot under the table.  She never thought to look under the table again.  I learned a lot about leaf-table construction in this manner before I was six." -J. Ridenour
I love this story.  It just goes to show that Miah and I come by our mischieviousness honestly.
I want to say that I typed this exactly the way it was written, and though the first paragraph could have been cut, I didn't.  I don't think that it was really important to the story, but censoring my dad is not something I an interested in doing.  Everyone in this story has passed away, so there is absolutely no reason that anyone should be offended on their behalf.  I leave it as he wrote it, fairly sure that his memory was accurate, and he said what he said for a reason.  I hope you enjoyed his story.

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