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I dedicate this post in honor of…

May 26, 2011

Miss Kelsie Van Dyke.

Who had a birthday this week and is graduating from la universidad this weekend. I would like to tell a story from our childhood now.

I must add a picture here, to illustrate the fable.

When we were quite young, Kelp and I had a very active sense of adventure, usually culminating in one or both of us crying because we had gotten to the end of playing ‘Boxcar Children’ and to the point where Violet falls ill- and as sick and simple minded children, we asserted the truth that the story would have been better had she died. I frequently played Violet (including her violent and often twitchy death scene) and she the older sister Jessie with stuffed animals (usually the giant stuffed panda from my bedroom and a purple-haired Jem and the Holograms doll) playing our brothers, who we ignored as lesser mortals.

I digress.

We were playing pioneers (a favorite) on the front porch of my father’s house when the fated event occurred. We had laid out quilts and pillows and had a few candles in my mother’s wedding present silver candlesticks (which is what pioneers traveled with, of course) and were noshing on the food that we thought most likely to be eaten by our forefathers as they passed Chimney Rock and Fort Laramie, namely apples, krispy kreme doughnuts, a handful of old lemon and orange flavored starburst from Easter holidays and chunks of cheddar cheese.

It was with that small mountain of cheese that this story comes full circle.

Somehow, we got the idea that cheese would look quite amusing run over by wagon tracks, in the form of cars that raced down the country road in front of our campsite, ie, the porch. Giggling heartily, I (as the idiotically brave one) dashed into the road, which smelled of summer and the tar that bubbled up over the patches in the asphalt, and placed the chunk of cheese directly in line with where the ‘wagon’ wheels would be most liable to run it over. We waited eagerly, perched on the low stone steps that led to the road, until the first car came by- though my memory often gives me a discredit- which was a pale blue late eighties Ford-ish sedan with a dark fast back, rather like a delorean of Back to the Future fame.

It hit! We tittered excitedly, jumping up and down and peering out over the curb to see the marks left in the cheese. In a fit of hubris, both of us journeyed into the street to look at the blackened tracks that had flattened the cheese. We were doing something terrifying and adult- we were in the road, this much feared monster in front of our homes. I glanced up from my crouched position over the cheese (we were likely poking it with a stick by now) at the spectre of my grandparent’s house across the massive and assuredly lethal divide of the road. It was even my Grandmother who had devised the clever mnemonic phrase which she warningly called to me every time I left to cross the rift back to my safe home: ‘WTR,’ she would shout after me, meaning, of course, ‘watch the road’, but at every opportunity I would come up with an alternative, usually ‘woo the rat’ (I was exceptionally literate at the age of seven) or ‘warthog trouble rating’ or even more commonly ‘whistle the rhinoceros’ which made little to no sense.

I digress yet again.

We became drunk on our success. We had ventured into the road and lived to tell the tale. Pioneers forgotten, we were now bold adventurers, going where few had gone and returned in one piece. So, in the bright July light, two tow-headed children with a manner of assorted aprons, pioneer bonnets and potentially a hoop skirt from my fourth grade play where I starred (as in, was in a single scene which I continued to make more and more integral to the development of the plot) as Mary Todd Lincoln, mother of Abraham, which is a story for another day.

Taking matters (and cheddar cheese) into our own hands, we made a solemn pact that the next car to whiz by would receive a chunk of cheese in the form of a projectile. We were ready when the red truck came by, over the flat where York Ridge intersected Decker Lane and beginning the dip in the road just after my house. I do not remember who did the flinging, I would be tempted to say that I did, likely because I was the over-active ADHD one with a perchance to dye my hair with kool-aid and climb trees while singing songs from ‘Pocahontas’. It is possibly that Kels had, though, because I had to have been a terrible goad after our success with the running-over of the cheese.

Regardless, the cheese struck the side of the truck, namely the tiny back-seat window of the cab. It stuck. Our eyes bulged, our greedy little mouths dropped open, showing the remains of the starburst candy stuck in the clefts of our molars and we goggled at our success. For a brief moment, everything was right in the world: we had conquered it with one deft throw of the cheese. I am tempted now to say that Kelsie had thrown the cheese- she has much more coordination than I, who had been politely asked to quit the tee ball team when I spent an hour and a quarter trying to learn how to hit the ball off of the tee with a whiffle bat.

Then, as immediately as Violet’s illness set in, our small world built of gold and fromage crashed down around our scuffed little keds. At the next house down the road, the truck pulled in and executed the world’s fastest three point turn. We were rooted to the spot. Having not made this sort of mischief ever in our pathetic little lives, we didn’t have the foresight to even run and hide behind the sticky holly bushes. The truck grew nearer and aghast, we watched him drive on the wrong side of the road to pull up to where we stood.

He stated the worst of all things: he knew our parents. In an oddly authoritarian way, he pronounced that he wouldn’t tell him if we… and that’s where my memory looses itself. Never did it again? What do you say to two third-grader refugees from Antebellum? Likely  in all possibly worlds, he was nearly peeing himself to keep from laughing, as he actually didn’t know our parents.

With one look at each other, my brown eyes locking on her blue ones, we made a silent pact to never speak of the incident again.

Which we didn’t, for more than a decade. We spoke for the first time about the monstrous indignity of the Cheese Throwing Incident at dinner with my father after  I had gone off to college. It seemed that a taboo had been spoken, and I know that I was more than a little discomfited.

I find it awkward to this day to think of, and have a sickening feeling that the man in the truck will be here momentarily to punish me for the deed.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kiki permalink
    May 30, 2011 12:08 pm

    What a wonderful trip down memory lane…ah, the cheese incident!

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