I always liked school. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the classes I liked so much but being with my friends and all. Whenever I was sick and had to stay home it was fun for a while but it wouldn’t be long before boredom would take over. The only thing I liked better than school was when summer vacation rolled around. No more rushing around in the morning getting ready to meet the bus and making sure I didn’t forget this or that; time was no longer an issue and watching the clock, a thing of the past.
I was lucky because I had an older brother so if my friend’s weren’t able to come over to my house or I to theirs, I always had someone to do stuff with. Most days I would start off the day by walking to my friend Gary’s house and just hang around until we came up with something to do. Gary had a tree house so we almost always climbed the tree ladder and ducked inside to plan the rest of our day. Some days we would walk down the block to another friend’s house that had a garden as big as a small farm. Steve was his name and his mother always allowed us to go into the garden to look for frogs, toads, garden snakes or grasshoppers. Steve’s mom always told us not to kill the frogs, toads or snakes because they were good for the garden, just how we never could figure out, but the grasshoppers we could have our way with. Once we captured a baby mouse and couldn’t decide if it was on the “don’t kill list” or not, so we decided to let it live. Now it wasn’t that we tried to kill any of them, except for the grasshoppers, they all just always seemed to wind up dead after we played with them for a while. As for the grasshoppers, we usually plucked the big hind legs off them and watched the legs keep jumping even after having been detached. It sounds kind of gross, I know, but after all they’re just bugs.
As much fun as it was to have the summer off from school and although there was a lot to do, sometimes I’d get bored anyway and go in the house, whining to my Mother, “I’m bored…there’s nothing to do.” Mother would respond the same way almost every time, “Don’t you know it’s a sin to be bored, I’ll find you something to do.” What that really meant was she would find some chore for me I didn’t want to do, so being bored didn’t seem so bad after all. After one of those whining sessions, my brother and I went back to moping on the stoop outside the back door until my brother said, “I’ve got a good idea, follow me!”
We ran into our dark and kind of scary garage that was even kind of scary with light on and the big door open. That was probably because there was always an ample collection of spider webs almost everywhere and the big black spiders that made them. Now my dad had a lot of tools and a work bench with a very large metal tool called a vise. It was like a giant pliers bolted to the bench which my dad used to hold stuff when he was working them, like when he was sawing something. He’d put the piece of wood in its jaws and turn the crank until it was tightly held in place and then saw away. My brother’s idea was that we would use it to crush stuff, what kind of stuff you ask? Well, we started out with rocks, acorns, grapes, bugs, apples and when we got bored with that, we went in the house and brought out small toy’s we didn’t care about and crushed them. We put some firecrackers and caps in the vise and cranked them down, but nothing happened. We even got a hard-boiled egg out of the refrigerator and put it in the crusher, which was pretty cool. Then I went into the back yard and picked up one of the many bones that were lying around that belonged to our dog, Lady. We didn’t like Lady much because she didn’t like us, so we surely wouldn’t feel guilty destroying one of her bones. But much to our disappointment we weren’t able to make much progress in crushing it with the vise. Then we got an idea that would not turn out the way we’d planned.
My dad had come home from work while we were crushing stuff in the vise and of course parked his car in the garage, paying little or no attention to what we were doing. We got the idea that that it would be cool to put the bone under the rear tire of my father’s car and see if when he backed out of the garage in the morning, the car would crush the bone into a million pieces. Now the one we chose was a sharp pot roast bone, not one of those smooth round ones. We would find out in the morning why that was significant choice. After placing the bone under the right rear tire we went in the house and decided we would go out in the morning and watch my dad pull out of the garage when he went to work and then examine the remains of the bone. We even talked about how Lady would like it when we gave her the bone back, already chewed into pieces.
It’s important to know a little about our dog, Lady before you find out the rest of the story. Lady was a Black Cocker Spaniel with a very bad attitude much of the time and one of those times was during and after she had her dinner. If you got anywhere near her while she was eating she would growl at you and no one, not even my dad, could pet her or even get near her after she’d had her dinner. Lady just wanted to sleep after eating and if you got near her, she would growl; so it was best if you kept your distance. I don’t think even my mom and dad had much affection for her when she got that way.
Well, at breakfast we watched the clock, anxious for 7:00AM to arrive so my dad would leave for work. When the time finally came we followed him out the door and waited on the stoop to witness the crushing of the bone. What happened next we never expected or had even considered. As my dad put the car into reverse and started to back-up we heard a muffled popping sound, followed by a long hissing sound and to our horror we watched my father’s right rear tire go flat as a morning pancake. My father also must have heard the sound and jumped out of the car to find out what had happened. When he saw the flat tire he said something I can’t repeat and returned to the car to pull it forward off the gravel and onto the concrete apron in front of the garage. This time when he got out of the car he saw the bone lying on the ground a few feet in back of the right rear tire and yelled, “Where’s that darned dog, she’s going to get it!” Lady was laying in the grass only a few feet from the car and as my dad reached to grab her by the collar to give the spanking of her life, so we thought, my brother and I both yelled, “Stop…don’t hurt her, it’s not her fault!”
Dad immediately stopped and turned toward us with a face I’ll never forget. Now we’d seen our dad plenty mad before, but never worse than this fateful moment. He replied saying, “What do you mean it’s not Lady’s fault?” As we explained our plan for crushing the bone, we could see the anger drain from my father’s face until we could even see a hint of a smile in the corners of his mouth. Dad said, “That is probably the dumbest plan I’ve ever heard and although I’ll have to call the office and tell them I’ll be late getting in, and probably have to buy a new tire that we can’t afford right now, I’m proud of both of you.” I then asked what both my brother and I were thinking, “why are you proud of us for giving you a flat tire?” Dad replied, “I’m not proud or happy with you for putting the bone under my tire, but I am proud of you for admitting it and before I punished the dog for something you both did. Just for that you can help me change it and when we’re done, maybe mom has a few more of those blueberry pancakes for us.” Well changing the tire was anything but boring and what could have been a terrible morning, instead turned out to be one of the best of the summer. Dad took the rest of the day off and we went with him to the gas station to get a new tire. Dad told the man at the gas station the whole story about how the tire went flat and they all had quite a laugh. When we got home, dad showed us how to do more productive things with the vise than crushing stuff; we sawed a few boards and cleared out all the spider webs we could find.
What does the story have to say about having a brother or sister, telling the truth, being bored, respecting animals and about trusting your mom and dad no matter hard it might be at the time?