I couldn’t leave things alone when I was little. I couldn’t sit still and I couldn’t quit thinking and asking questions. So, yeah, ok, maybe I was a bit hyper. I guess the Cricket moniker was appropriate. I am so not like that anymore. I would be a female Richard Simmons (???) if I had continued on with my hyperness. And yes, “hyperness” is a word because I just made it up.
During the warm to hot summer months, the Mendenhall kids played outside about 98% of the time. It didn’t lightning and thunder in Woodland Estates because my mom forbade it. She also had power over the ice cream truck that drove into our neighborhood every afternoon during our nap time. The nerve. Mom somehow stopped that too. He came later, after we were refreshed after our nap or pretend nap. She pushed us out the door, back outside, money in hand for an ice cream cone.
So, I had plenty of time to take in the sights and the sounds of every neighbor and every child on a three block radius. We lived on the corner of Crystal Lane. My bestest friend, Ramaine, lived on Crystal also, at the end of the street. LeeAnn lived next door to Ramaine. So, since I walked down the street all of the time, I knew everything about the neighbors. One lady scrubbed the street in front of her house almost every day. We called her Bungy. Maybe that was her name. I don’t think a woman would be called Bungy, but who am I to judge. I lived in a family with crazy names, such as Orpha, Elwood, Wilma, and Zella. Bungy was normal.
LeeAnn’s brother, Ralph, was in a league all by himself. Can’t explain him, but I did get a chuckle with the things he did on a daily basis. One day, for no particular reason, he put rocks in everyone’s mailbox. And then put up the flag. That was brilliant.
Fernwood Drive was a long road that ran right the other side of my house. There was an empty lot across the street that my dad once had a big black barn on, but that was later torn down. I think we still owned that property and the creek and woods that ran down the street across from the houses on Crystal Lane, so the world was our playground. And believe me, we went on adventures daily.
We decided to make a cabin in the woods one summer. Oh, it wasn’t really built with wood. Girls don’t need a real live cabin. We just pulled weeds around the little locust trees and made “rooms.” The trees were the walls that separated the rooms. Girls have such a great imagination. So, we would then give ourselves new names, like Mabel and Ethel, and begin living in our cabin. Until some little shit neighbors came upon us.
I don’t even know who these little rugrats were. They had to be visiting grandparents who wouldn’t play with them or something. OR, they were not from the two block radius. Which would be unacceptable. And these strangers wanted to play with us. It was like the story, The Little Red Hen, all over again.
Who will help me gather the wheat? Not I, said the pig. Not I, said the duck….etc. etc.
Who will help me play in the cabin? Oh, we will, said the little urchins from outside the neighborhood perimeter.
Yeah, I may have only been about eight or nine, but I knew a sham when I saw one. They waited until all of the work was done, and then strolled on in to play. Not going to happen.
Now, you have to understand that in order to build a cabin, you needed to cut stuff and dig. So, most of my mom’s butter knives and spoons were at the cabin. I did try to remember to sneak them back into the house right before dinner, but my mom somehow noticed the utensils in the sink. And believe me, there were always dishes and stuff in the sink to be washed.
“Vickie, why is there dirt on these spoons?” Damn. I only had half of a brain.
“I dropped them on the floor.”
“Vickie, my floors are not dirty. You took my good silverware outside to dig with again, didn’t you? I know you did it, so don’t lie.”
I don’t know why I was always the one that got in trouble.
But, let’s get back to the strangers. We were getting ready to play restaurant when they came upon us.
“Can we play?” they asked. We all looked at them. And then we looked at each other. It’s like they read my mind.
“Sure!” we all exclaimed.
I explained to them that they would be the customers. They sat on tree roots that came out of the ground and gave a great seating area in the cabin. I can’t remember who was going to be the waitress this particular day, so I will just say it was my sister, Cheryl. Ramaine, LeeAnn and I would be the cooks. Yes. The cooks.
Since I can’t keep my hands off of anything, I was always smooshing or taking apart plants and weeds when I was playing outside. I’m still pissed that I can not whistle through a blade of grass. Damn thing gave me a paper cut on my lip one time, however. Never did that again. I knew where the berries were and wild pears, if there is such a thing. And I knew where the pepper was.
But, the dandelions were my favorite. Dandelions morphed, and I liked that about these flowery weeds.
Now, there are parts of a dandelion that can be picked apart and they look like great pretend food. So, a dandelion would be great for our cabin in the woods restaurant. Of course, how would we know that most of the dandelion can be eaten nowadays.
Ok, so, the menu was limited at our restaurant. We had creek water, pears with pepper sprinkled on top, dandelion and several types of berries and mushrooms. Thank God we really didn’t feed them the mushrooms as I would probably be behind bars today. Hell, we didn’t know some mushrooms were poisonous.
Everyone should have this book if you plan to have a restaurant in the woods.
So, in the end, the kids ordered dandelions and pears with pepper sprinkled lightly on them. And this is the part I really remember, because Ramaine and I were laughing so hard when we watched that one little girl bite into a wild pear with pepper. Now, you have to understand that in the past we ate everything we played with. I tried a wild pear. I tasted the white milky crap that came out of a dandelion, and although I cursed the briar bushes as they raked the shit out of my legs as we macheted our way through them, I tasted the berries too. And we still lived.
So, what the hell is the problem with having a kid eat a wild pear with some dirt sprinkled on it?
I mean pepper.
I never got in trouble for that one because I told the kids my name was Ethel. And I was Ethel when we were in the cabin. Or Mabel. Can’t remember. They didn’t ask where we lived because we told them we just moved into the cabin.
The moral of the story is to never leave your two block radius unless you are prepared to eat dandelions and pears with pepper lightly sprinkled on top.
It’s just our way to welcome you to the neighborhood.