Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Remember when people used to call diabetes sugar diabetes? It was sometimes shortened, but shortened to sugar. Yes, children, as in, "Have you heard? She has sugar!" Now we say "diabetes." I wonder when they made the switch.

Of course, cancer was occasionally called The Big C, as if naming it would cause it. For all I know, it would; everything else does.

I have five green plastic lawn chairs to paint, but the chairs are not new. I took them to the car wash yesterday to _____. Yeah. You fill in the blank. Gee, what do you think she did at the car wash?

Anyway, it was actually kind of fun. It was about seven at night, and I was hot and sweaty because it's Florida. When I'd squeeze the trigger, turning the hose into a pressure hose, the chair would go flying across the bay (not Tampa Bay, you understand). I'd aim it right down into the hollow legs of the chairs, so I could remove generations of minute critters. Naturally, they'd all splat back at me, which I found refreshing, even though Florida tap water isn't very cool. I drove home picking bug elbows out of my hair.

I also drove home without that Altoids box filled with quarters. I'd put it on top of the coin box because I knew a single two-dollar session wouldn't cut it. So what do you think? Do you think the box of quarters was still there this morning? It's been raining every day, so I would think the car wash wouldn't be all that busy, and it's very gloomy this morning. What say ye?

It's Canada Day today, so, um, go, Cannucks! I don't believe I know any Canadians, although I've been there, if course. I grew up in the Buffalo Snow Belt, so there were always Canadian coins around. I went to the World's Fair in 1967. I don't remember the name. Expo '67? Maybe ...

I took a train from Buffalo to Montreal in about 1976 or so. I went to AA's fiftieth birthday there in '85, just before I moved down here.

Yuck. And now I see something I don't like about blogging: It's too public. I know. Let's all pause for a giant DUH. Still, I always think my life is an open book, but apparently it's not. I mean, there are things I'd like to say about the World's Fair, but what if my family's listening? and about the first trip to Montreal with Carl Ham, but what if you respect me ...?

Well, about the World's Fair, my whole family except Jim, the oldest, went. We borrowed all kinds of camping equipment because we couldn't afford a hotel, of course. The rest of them wanted to go to a separate island at the fair that held the amusement park. Amusement parks have never amused me, so I stayed where I was. I promised to stay right there at a park bench, and except for a moment -- or could it have been an hour? -- when it started to rain and we went up under some trees, I did stay there.

Did you notice the "we"? I was sixteen-almost-seventeen and these two French-speaking boys started speaking French to me. I'd had two years of it and the one -- Camille, who hated his name because it was a girl's name -- spoke fairly good English. The other was Pierre, who spoke no English. We had to limit our communication to gazing into each other's eyes, which we did most vigorously.

When the rain quit, we went back to the bench, but my family never showed back up. I assume they all hated me by then. The park actually closed and it got to be midnight. The boys stayed with me, but I wasn't willing to leave because I'd promised to stay.

Finally, a park official found us and brought us to a subway or something, where my family was. I couldn't believe how upset my mother was. She was actually rude to the boys, which was mind-boggling. I expected everyone to just be fine with everything. It never occurred to me that perhaps I'd ruined their whole day at the World's Fair.

For some reason, Mom did the driving. She never drove when Dad was around, but she did this time. And she made a wrong turn. We didn't get back to the campsite till three in the morning. But the tent and everything was gone. It turned out that a fire had started somehow, and everything had burned to a crisp. As I recall, only a transistor radio (remember those?) was alive. All that borrowed equipment -- the tent, the sleeping bags, the cooking gear -- was burned.

We slept sitting up straight in the car -- six of us! -- for about three hours, then we woke up and Dad drove us to Vermont for breakfast, and then down to Plattsburgh to drop my sister off for college.

If anybody yelled at me about that day, I must have blocked it out of my memory.


Well, gee, Happy Canada Day!


beth said...

Ah, yes. I remember that day at the World's Fair. Mom & Dad frantic with worry that you had been kidnapped, raped, whatever (they never said those things, but that's what happened to girls who disappeared). Me? I was totally p--sed! We spent hours looking for you. Dad was going to take the boys and me back to the camp (we never made it) while Mom stayed to find you.
We had to buy tickets for some kind of transportation. Dad asked for 2 adult (16 and over) and 2 children. The kid selling the tickets said 1 adult and 3 kids? Heck, I was almost 18! And heading for college orientation! What an insult. But honest Dad did not take advantage of the situation. He insisted on paying for 2 adults.
We ran into some people from church -- yeah, go to a foreign country and run into people from Silver Lake. They told Dad the tent had burned. So we waited at the car for Mom & Barb.
The older of the 2 boys woke up early (he'd fallen asleep on the trip to the campground) and asked why we were sleeping in the car. Dad told him the tent burned, but J wouldn't believe until he went to look for himself.
Vacation ended a day early and I arrived at orientation a day before all the other freshmen.
Our family had 3 camping trips --- each one a disaster in one way or another.
Ya know, we coulda gone on more rides!!

Barbara said...

THREE? We went THREE times? What happened at the third -- a hurricane? I remember the flood ... Man, I'm so sorry for that Montreal thing!

Mark said...

You know Barbara, they say the devil is in the details.
I imagine an imaginative narrative, complete with petulant dialog amongst your siblings who were left to endure the worrying of Mom & Dad as the camp burns; meanwhile, off to christ knows where, you are dilly dallying with Camille & Pierre under a camouflage of rain and a canopy of leaves. That must of been one helluva French lesson those two Montreal lads treated you two, (you naughty girl).
The situation reminds me of things one might encounter in the pages of John Irving's work.

Steven said...

I think the next time you go to wash chairs at the car wash, you should sell tickets! Put me down for two!

My guess is the Altoid tin was gone - am I right?