Hallooooo, dear readers! I hope you all are having a wonderful week so far–and have been able to put the pen to paper at least a few times. Here is my response to prompt 8; prompt 9’s response will be along early next week. Enjoy, and feel free to peruse my other responses:
8) Describe a routine or holiday ritual, using first person, present tense verbs.
So many times in our lives, we find ourselves performing certain sacrosanct rituals, year in, year out, despite the fact that there is a very good chance that not a single person involved in said ritual even enjoys the event in question anymore—even those that initiated the damn thing in the first place.
When I was growing up, that ritual was the annual Sunday-before-Christmas open house at my father’s sister’s home. Now, as a rule, this was pretty much the only time we actually saw Aunt Sandy, Uncle Wayne, and my three cousins, Kelly, Kim and Koral (those are their honest to goodness names; we always said them as one word: KellyKimandKoral) each year. And, when I say “Christmas open house,” I use the term loosely, as there was absolutely nothing “open” about their house; one cave-like, sweltering little room led to another, finally dead-ending in a cubicle-sized living room that housed an obscenely large wood-burning stove. This rabbit-hole floor plan made travelling from one room to another all but impossible with a houseful of people, and my siblings and I inevitably ended up in the “Koala” room, which housed my aunt’s vast collection of said marsupials of all shapes, sizes and format.
One year in particular stands out vividly in my memory as the year I actually looked forward to the open house…
Walking through the sliding glass door into Aunt Sandy’s steamy kitchen at the stroke of one in the afternoon, I’m already counting the minutes until I can sneak away with my siblings to “go play outside” (a ridiculous notion at this point in my life; once one reaches 14 years old, the “play” evolves into activities of a different nature), and then head off to my rendezvous point to meet my new boyfriend under the Route 3 overpass.
My three younger siblings are already privy to this whole scenario and have been sworn to secrecy…but to my horror, as we are preparing to exit the sweltering family gathering in order to allow my clandestine meeting at the prearranged hour, my cousin Pam announces to all and sundry that she, too, would be joining us.
While of an age with me, Pam and I don’t have much in common—she spends her time with the marching band and her studies, and I spend my time wondering who I’ll see at the roller skating rink on Friday night, and what I’m going to wear to school. Something about the nature of these differences brings out the worst in Pam, and she finds it necessary to ridicule me at any opportunity about being boy-crazy and shallow. So, you can see why this new development causes me concern.
Despite my best efforts to convince her otherwise, Pam insinuates herself into our expedition. Almost as if she knows I’m up to something, I think to myself, gritting my teeth. We make our way down the street to the overpass, and I can see Tony waiting there for me in the shadow of the bridge. My next-youngest sister Jen, who is thirteen and understands the situation clearly, does her best to distract Pam while I attempt to slip away…but alas, no.
My hard-fought-for romantic moment with Tony under the highway became a parody of what I had imagined: as we try to lose ourselves in each other’s eyes—as only love-sick teenagers can do—and possibly sneak in a passionate kiss or two, the insistent and derisive sounds of Pam making smoochy, slurping sounds from just outside the reaches of the underpass shadow make the entire experience into something out of a comedic sitcom. All that’s missing is the laugh track…although, I assure you, nothing is even remotely funny to me at the moment. As a matter of fact, it feels as though the world is ending, and that this is the WORST thing that has ever happened to me—again, a feeling that only a teenager truly experiences.
Later, on the way home, my father asks us what we did when we were outside, and I freeze for a moment, as do my brother and sisters. I assume Pam dropped the dime on me, and the question is a test; when I respond with a noncommittal and vague reply (“Nuthin’,”), I breathe a sigh of relief when the conversation ends at that. But, I can assure you, I will not rest easy for quite some time, as I’m sure Pam will gleefully dangle this potent piece of information over my head like a hangman’s noose for as long as possible—for she knows as well as I do that my father does not take kindly to his daughters taking part in such activities prior to the ripe old age of 16.
Being as boy-crazy as I am, I’ll be lucky to make it to that age without being banished to my bedroom for all time, a modern-day Rapunzel.