Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Incident

If you're a parent, you know the moment.

Your kids have misbehaved in some shape, form or fashion, and what they've done has left you momentarily speechless. Your jaw drops, and maybe your eye twitches a time or two. There's a ringing in your ears that won't go away. You don't ever recall being this ... this ... "angry" isn't even a good enough word to fully encompass it.

My mom and one of the many, many cakes she decorated over the years.
That kind of thing doesn't happen very often around here, but there are times when I can't help but wonder what could possibly have crossed Adam and Jess's minds ... or if they were even thinking at all.

Adam turns a blind eye to any basket of freshly laundered socks and underwear that happens to enter the room. Place it in "his" seat in our den, and he'll sit in another without saying a word. Plop it in front of the door to their bedroom, and he'll step over, around or quite possibly right in the middle of it. Situate it on his bed, and he'd sleep in the floor.

Say anything about it, and he's got his alibi ready.

I didn't see it.

Drumming his fingers ... oh, man ... that's another Adam specialty. He's actually got great timing and rhythm, but one solo is followed by another. And another. And then an encore worthy of every great drummer in history. I honestly don't think he's even fully aware that he's doing anything.

Adam ... stop.

Stop what?

Drumming your fingers. 

Oh ... okay.

Peck ... peck ... peckedy ... peck-peck ... 

Adam ...


Please. Stop it.

I'm sorry.

Peck ... peck ... peckedy ... peck-peck ...


My 17th birthday cake, right after football practice.
And then there's Jesse. Born three minutes before Adam, it was the first race Jesse ever won and it will most likely be the last. Jesse has only one speed, and that's Jesse Speed. Whether it's a personality trait or a function of his Asperger's, the kid is never in a hurry.


The good thing is that he'll never have to deal with any stress-related issues, because he simply does not concern himself with moving any faster than he already is. Jesse is perfectly content to get where he's going in his own time, moving at his own pace all the while. That's just Jesse being Jesse.

While Jesse may never be stressed, the same can't be said for me when I'm trying to get him on the move. Counting to ten causes him to speed up sometimes, but only by a little bit.

Throw in the fact that both Adam and Jesse are just beginning their journeys as teenagers, and life can often seem like one small battle after another. Just when I think I've had it up to here with one or the both of them, though, I remind myself that while Adam and Jesse might not be perfect, they've never come close to the dumbest, stupidest, most misguided, ill-advised, ignorant and childish thing I've ever done.

My brother Doug and I just call it The Incident.

Our mom baked and decorated cakes. It was her outlet, a way of expressing herself in a way that others tended to appreciate. I seem to remember a formal wedding cake or two, but her specialties were kids' birthday cakes with as many bright colors as possible.

The occasion escapes me, but Mom had spent most of a Friday night on a cake. There were bowls of colored icing everywhere in the kitchen, and when she and Dad left to deliver the masterpiece, both the bowls and several nearly full tubes of icing were left behind. Because of that, I've got to think that what happened next was actually their fault, not mine and Doug's.

My brother and co-defendant in The Incident, with one of HIS birthday cakes.
I honestly don't remember who struck first, whether it was me or my younger sibling, but one of us picked up a tube of icing and tried to squirt the other with it. That, of course, elicited retribution with another tube. It was on from there.Two squirts of icing became ten, and then twenty. There was not the slightest pause when one tube was emptied, because we had plenty more in our arsenal.

If only we'd limited our battle to the linoleum-floored kitchen that would've been relatively easy to clean ... if only ... if only ...

Not content with the destruction of one room, we began chasing each other through the house with the icing tubes. There was icing everywhere ... on furniture, in the carpet, smeared on the walls ... everywhere. If it had just been red icing, it would've looked like the goriest murder scene in the history of crime, but this had been a special cake with lots and lots and lots of colors.

You know that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the black-and-white Kansas scenery is suddenly replaced by the mind-blowing Technicolor of Oz? Yep. That was our house that day. 

There came a point when I realized the gravity of what was taking place, and what was going to happen when Mom and Dad got home. It didn't matter, because the damage -- literally -- had already been done. We kept right on going, right up until the very end. I vaguely remember the sound of a car pulling into the driveway and the front door opening, but not much after that.

My first R2-D2 birthday cake.
Let's just say that Mom and Dad believed in corporal punishment, and practiced it to its fullest extent that day. They tag-teamed Doug and I ... when one of them got tired of wearing our hind-ends out, they tagged out and allowed the other to take over.

And, really, who could blame them? They were the closest to being perfect Christians that day than they ever were, and that's simply because they didn't kill us.

Tony Rankin was my role model growing up -- he still is, for that matter -- and he was getting married that day to his fiancee, Amber. I didn't get to go to the wedding, which is probably for the best. If either of my parents had dropped me off anywhere that day, they almost certainly would not have returned to pick me up.

What's all the more shocking to me today is that the date was June 4, 1983. I was fifteen years old, and it was the summer before my junior year of high school. I was old enough to know better, for crying out loud, but did that stop me from taking part in The Incident?

Noooooooooooooooooooooooo ...

So, yeah, we can deal with some unsorted laundry and a little slowness afoot. Adam and Jesse have absolutely nothing on their old man and uncle. 

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