Archive for April, 2009

Growing up years Behind me now


2009
04.13
In this day and age we think nothing of getting online to pay bills, but do you remember how we paid the paperboy back in the “olden days”?  Our paperboy was a super nice kid named Chuck. Secretly I had a crush on him. He had a mop of dark hair, a spray of freckles across his nose, and moreover, he was very responsible and dependable. I’ve always found that attractive in a “man”, even when that man was all of twelve years old.Chuck delivered the Des Moines Register and Tribune to our house. I wouldn’t know this from seeing him early in the mornings, but back when I was growing up the paperboy also came by our house in the evenings and did what we called, “Collect”.

Chuck would show up once a week with a hard-bound, steno style notebook. There were many pages in the notebook and each page was made up of perforated stubs which Chuck would rip off and give to you as you paid your weekly bill.

Our house was a 1970’s style home – a Split Level. Basically it meant that as you came in on the main floor there was a set of stairs that led upstairs to the bedrooms. As you went up the stairs there was a short hallway whose back wall was a floor to ceiling mirror. It was great for getting ready for school- just a quick glance in the full-length mirror and you were on your way.

One evening my mother was taking a bath and the doorbell rang. I ran to answer it and who stood there but Chuck with his Collect book in hand. My heart thumped with love for him.

“Mom, Collect!!!” I yelled. “Just a minute, I don’t know where my mom has her money. Mom!!!!!!!!! Collect!!!!!!!”

I invited Chuck to step into the living room and he stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking up towards the bedrooms. Mom charged out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her front half, expecting that no one would be standing there, certainly not Chuck.

As she stood there instructing me where to find Collect money, I noticed the shocked look on Chuck’s face, he was without words and his eyes were open wide. Mom’s lily-white, dimpled backside was completely exposed and reflected in the full-length mirror “behind” her.

More than twenty-five years later I wonder if Chuck has recovered from Collecting at our house. I hope the newspaper is helping to cover his continuing therapy.

Perhaps coincidently the Register and Tribune stopped their method of collecting payment. I don’t know if my mom had anything to do with that or not. I do have my suspicions.

Not to be outdone by my mother, I had a similar incident that I know traumatized two people.

When I was 19 years old I traveled to France to spend the summer in a French family. The parents of this family did not speak a word of English, their daughter, Regine, had been an exchange student at my high school and had invited me to spend three months with them in their home learning French.

When the time came for me to be picked up at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, Regine was unable to come for me because she had a summer job, so her parents drove the five hours to pick me up. This also meant that I had to ride in the car with them for FIVE HOURS on the way back to their home.

I’d like to think my French was good; after all, I had studied French in high school and one year in college. However, what I realized then was that all I really knew how to say were things like, “I have a blue pencil” or “Where is the bathroom?” That last phrase was important because I used it when we stopped at a roadside inn for a meal.

The inn’s owner directed me to the bathroom where I slid the bolt in the door lock and walked across the room to the toilet. I had just dropped my drawers to my ankles when the door slammed open and there stood Roger, my new French dad.

I can’t tell you how great it feels to flash your rear end at a strange French guy. Well, I guess we weren’t quite strangers after three hours of riveting conversation (from me) that went like, “There are many cows in France.” Roger quickly escaped the scene; I stood there thinking, “How can I ever face him again?” and, “There are not enough French words in my head to get out of this one.”

When I exited the bathroom Roger said to me in French, “In France, we lock the bathroom door.” Of course you do! We’ve never thought of that in the States. Well?! That was just great! How do you respond to that? “The door is closed” was about the best that I could respond with my basic French skills, and even that seemed somewhat lacking.

It took me an entire summer to learn enough French to tell him that I had locked the door! We still laugh about it to this day; I have visited France several times through the years and even though Roger got a good look at the business end of my anatomy, he doesn’t hold it against me, our French-American relations are good. However, you can bet that I make sure that the door is locked when I potty; I don’t need that lecture or drama again.

I guess the lesson learned here is you never know when your hind end is going to be hanging out for all the world to see. Rarely these days am I at a loss for words, and it turns out that if you dump me off in a foreign country I might flash my fanny to just about anybody. I learned my skills from the best…my mother.