I Should Have Kept The Receipt
Last week, I wrote my husband’s inability to find the shaving cream. Although it wasn’t exactly hidden.
And several people commented. Many said that they absolutely could have written this, since it appears we all have exactly the same spouse.
But quite a few also commented that it’s not only men who can’t find anything. Kids are non-seeing beings too.
And that triggered a very old memory.
I was one of those kids. Actually, all four kids in my family were one of those kids. According to my mother anyway. And she is pretty nearly perfect, so she is probably right.
Her favorite expression was: “What? It didn’t jump out and yell ‘Here I am’?”
“It” could be just about anything. A sneaker, the peanut butter, the scotch-tape, a prayer-book. We never knew where anything was, mostly, I guess, because the missing little bastard didn’t jump out and yell, ‘Here I am!”
In 1967, when I was sixteen years old, I did not get a summer job. My sisters needed their summer jobs to earn money for college, but I wasn’t in that situation yet. My mother worked, and my brother was not quite eleven and a bit too young to stay home during the day by himself. So my mom increased my allowance in the summer, so I would stay home with my brother.
I can’t exactly say it was hard-earned money. My brother was an easy kid to take care of. We had a shallow brook in our backyard. That’s an endless source of activity for a ten-year-old boy. He played in the brook all day. At noon, I’d call him to the kitchen door and handed him a hot dog. He ate it back at the brook. He had a hot dog every day. And I read books and watched soap operas.
But I didn’t exactly earn a lot of money either. When I said my mother doubled my allowance, I mean she gave me eight dollars.
Well, one summer day she called me from work.
“I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer,” she said. “So take it out now so it will thaw for supper.”
“Okay,” I said, and went back to my soap opera.
But during the next commercial, I went to the fridge to take out the chicken.
And there wasn’t any.
I took everything out of the freezer. I put everything back. I took everything out again. I sorted it on the counter. No chicken. No whole chicken. No chicken pieces. no chicken livers. I put it everything back.
I had visions. I could see the scene clearly.
My mother comes home from work, and opens the freezer, and pulls out the chicken and says, “What? It didn’t jump out and yell, ‘Here I am!’?”
I knew that chicken would appear for my mother. And we wouldn’t have anything for supper. And it would be my fault.
I went out to the brook, and said to my brother, “I have to go to the store. Do you want to go with me, or are you okay here for an hour?”
My brother assured me he’d be fine and went back to his pollywogs.
The nearest market was Washington Superette, a small grocery store exactly one mile from my house. I had no car. Shit, I didn’t have a driver’s license.
So I walked to Washington Superette and bought a chicken. With my allowance.
And it was on the counter, all defrosted (it had never been frosted) when my mother came home from work.
And I never told her.
But you know, I’ve been thinking about it.
There was NO CHICKEN in that freezer. My mother made a mistake. And I spent my allowance which I truly earned because my brother did not eat worms or knock his teeth out or jump off the roof that whole summer.
And even though it was forty-eight years ago, I think I deserve a reimbursement.
When I see my mother next week, I am going to ask her for three dollars and seventy-four cents.