When I got in trouble for mooning someone at a rest stop. Picture this. You’re seven. You’re sitting in a station wagon, at a rest stop, in the middle of June with your two older sisters and one older brother who’s probably sexually active at this point, and thus far too old to be going on seventeen-hour road trips to Disney World.
Our parents just went into the rest stop probably to buy a map, or maybe my Dad was smoking one of his Merit’s, who knows. My Mom was probably perusing the casino brochures outside of McDonald’s. Anyway, they were in there for like 5 whole minutes. That’s a really long time to leave four kids alone in a station wagon in the middle of summer, especially since we’d all finished listening to every NKOTB tape on our Walkman’s.
So my brother dared me to moon the guy next to us. I pulled down my elastic-waist shorts and planted my hauntingly white 7 year-old ass, complete with a birthmark, against the window for a good 2 seconds. I remember exactly what the guy looked like, he had a curly mullet and a wife; they were driving a sensible car, probably a Volvo. It was AWESOME!
But the bastard waited for my parents to get back to the car, and he told on me. And I got in trouble. Shame. Seriously, what would you have done in that situation? It was a dare. I had a moral obligation to do it, and plus, it was fun. I don’t regret it, only that I got caught. Let it be known — if a child ever moons you at a rest stop, PLEASE don’t tell on him. Just let him/her enjoy that blissful 2 seconds of uninhibited taunting.
The last 1/4 of the Slush Puppie. Being the youngest, cutest of my three older sisters and brother, I may or may not have been the most convincing of the group to get all of us something that we collectively wanted real bad. And being a bunch of sweaty kids in a giant, old station wagon in the summertime, stopping at a gas station meant one thing and one thing only: Slush Puppies.
One way or another, we scored them. We’d suck them down, ignoring the splitting sensation erupting behind our eye sockets, savoring the smooth, round ice pellets swimming in blissful, sweet, blue chemical liquid, letting it slide down our throats into our high fructose corn syrup -heaving bellies. We’d slurp and — so abruptly, without warning — nothing. Cruel, really. We’d tear the plastic top off the cup and peer inside. ALL ICE. NO MORE BLUE. WTF, Slush Puppie? You’ve been around like 47 years, and you still haven’t figured out a way to make the blue shit last through the end of the cup.
When I hit my best friend with a bat and got in trouble for it. I grew up as a self-proclaimed, and universally described, “tomboy.” I had a blond bowl-cut and sometimes pretended to be a boy named “Tommy” – more on that later. Years later, my mom told me she raised me as a tomboy because it was cheaper than buying lots of pretty clothes.
When I was about 6 years old, I was playing in the street with my two best friends, Krissy Grossimon and Michael Salvaggio. We were way into T-ball at that time. So I was carrying around one of those foam red bats with my last name written in angry magic marker on it in huge letters, “McCORMICK.” I was also “scooting” around on a skateboard, because I was 6 and I didn’t care if people thought I looked like an idiot.
We were in the middle of the street, in an intersection, which probably wasn’t very safe. Anyway, Krissy said something I didn’t like, and I nailed her with the bat. It wasn’t really that hard, I don’t think, and let me remind you that the bat was covered in foam. Needless to say, I hit a 6 year old with a bat and I thought it was funny. She cried. And told on me, and I got in trouble with my Mom. And realized you shouldn’t hit your best friends with bats, because it’s not funny. Or, it’s not funny to the other person.
When my grandmother convinced my parents that “Chores” were a good idea. My grandmother, Nan, babysat us one snowy weekend when I was 7. (Apparently all the worst parts of my childhood happened around age 7… I’ll bring that up to my therapist later.) All of us kids were playing outside in the snow, and my brother and sisters decided to climb on top of our pop-up camper. Come on, how is that NOT fun? I remember standing there and thinking it was bad but not really caring too much about it.
Later that night, my parents came home and my Dad found out there was a dent in the roof, due to us kids climbing on it. He was furious. I got in trouble because “You didn’t say anything, so you’re in trouble too” or something to that effect. Apologies that my sense of judgment wasn’t fully formed at the age of 7, Dad. Geez.
That night, we ate dinner with my grandmother at our big, oval dinner table.
“These kids are getting away with MURDAH,” said Nan. That changed everything.
I’ll never forget the way she said that, because I remember feeling extremely guilty for whatever my 7 year-old self had done that could be equated with slitting someone’s throat and throwing them down a well. I also remember these exact words because my family didn’t really have a heavy Boston accent like she did — well we did, but I think most of us grew out of it once we realized that it’s generally unattractive.
Nan left that night, and the next week my Mom posted a schedule of weekly chores on the wall, which would forever be resented. For years, YEARS I tell you, we would all stay inside after dinner sweeping floors, scrubbing chairs, vacuuming the rug under the dinner table, doing SLAVE labor while our friends would play Four Square outside without us. Even when my friends came over, they’d have to wait in the living room and watch TV while I toiled away. It was torture, I tell you. All because of a visit from my grandmother.
So there you have it, the four worst parts of my childhood.