Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Too Small...

The summer before my 13th birthday my parents and I went back to Iowa to collect a few antiques that belonged to my mother. My grandfather had recently died and my grandmother moved in with my aunt and uncle when the farm sold. So we were going to get the pieces that belonged to mom now and bring them home. It was a massive road trip and ended up being a bit of a disaster for the antiques when the closed trailer that was supposed to be waiting to rent was an open trailer with a tarp. But that's another story.

This is a story about a stop on the way. 

My father's middle brother was living in a small town (I think it was call Pierson) with his current wife and her kids and we stopped to visit with them for a day on the way to Osceola. My cousin Dulce was about my age and we hit it off right away. So as kids did in those days we took off on our own. We went to the local playground to hang out and do what ever it is we were going to do. I think pretty much just swap stories. 

We were swinging and gossiping when a loud whistle blew. Dulce stopped and said, "Let's go."

"Let's go where?" If I had been older I might have panicked thinking it was a tornado siren, but I honestly had no idea what it was, aside from loud.

"It's time for lunch."

Seems the whistle let everyone know it was lunch time. Hunh.

We headed back to the house, "Does that blow everyday?"

"Yeah, lunch and dinner."
"You all eat your meals at the same time? Like everyone in the whole town?"

Dulce looked at me like I was crazy, "Yeah..."


We got back to Uncle Robert's house and sure enough lunch was spread out on the table. I told my parents, "They blow the whistle for lunch every day."

My parents just smiled and nodded like this was something totally normal.

After lunch we headed back out again. This time with a shouted, "Wait for me!" from Dulce's little brother. On our way back to the park his friend joined the group. 

To say that this kid was a brat would be to insult bratty kids everywhere. He was the worst. He tried to butt in to every conversation, he tossed pine cones at us as we swang, he shouted and yelled so we couldn't hear each other talk. I suggested to Dulce's brother that they both go play somewhere else. Then THE EVENT happened.

The friend asked why I wanted them to go away. And I told him. "Because you are annoying."

"I'm not annoying, YOU are annoying!"

"Then go away."

"No. I don't have to. I live here. YOU go away."

"I will. Soon. But right now you are annoying me and I wish you would go play somewhere else where your annoyingness stops bothering me."



So I told Dulce we should go back to her house and play in her room where annoying people couldn't join us. And so we left. With him following along the whole way saying we couldn't do that. But of course we could and we did. 

When the whistle blew for dinner we headed over to the only restaurant in town.  Which with my mom, dad, me, aunt, uncle and two cousins and then the family that owned the restaurant eating with us we shut the place down apparently. Which boggled my brain a bit. It seemed like if they were joining us for dinner it wasn't so much of a restaurant as just going to someone's house for dinner and then paying them for the invite. But what did I know right?

Anyway we get there and my cousin's annoying friend is the youngest son of the restaurant owners. Oh great. We have to eat with the punk. As we are getting situated at the table he is smirking. Hmm...

His mother looks over at me and Dulce, "Did you girls need to say something before we start?"

I'm thinking she means grace, and usually dad handles that so I say, "I don't think so, no."

"I think you need to apologize for the event this afternoon."

Now I'm confused. "What event?"

"Didn't you call (cannot remember his name for the life of me) annoying?"

"I did."

"He was being annoying."

"I think you should apologize."

"I just told you why."

"No. You just said what I said. I wasn't wrong. He was being annoying."

"Well I don't know what it's like where you are from but around here we raise our children not to call names."

I look over at my parents because even at 12 going on 13 I realize that she's just insulted them and questioned their parenting and I'm sort of waiting for them to step in. Now looking back I realize that they probably thought the worst thing they could do to her is let me keep going on my own.

"I didn't call names. He was being annoying and I told him so. I described his behavior. He asked why we didn't want to play with him. Should I have lied to him?"

"You should have played with him."


"Because that is the right thing to do."

"Screaming at us and throwing pine cones at us doesn't seem like a fun game to me. It seems more annoying. Where I'm from people raise their children not to be annoying." 

Looking back I also realize that at that point that was probably not true at all because she was clearly annoyed.

"He was trying to engage with you girls and you were ignoring him."

"We were ignoring him because he was being annoying."

"Did you ask him what he wanted to do?"

"No. I wasn't visiting with him. I was visiting with my cousin. He just tagged along. I didn't care what he wanted to do. He's 8."

"Nine!" annoying kid yelled.

"Fine, you're nine. I don't want to play with a nine year old. I wasn't there to play games with a nine year old. I wasn't there to be yelled at or had things thrown at me."

"If he was throwing things at you, you should have told me about it instead of calling him names."

"I don't know you. You weren't there. And why? You didn't need to know he was being annoying, only he did. You weren't involved with any of this. It wasn't your business."

Which of course made her really mad!

"Not my business! You called him a name of course that was my business!"


"Because he is my son and I have a right to know."

Then I saw the line, looked at the line, and vaulted over the line, "Then I guess you should get used to people telling you he's annoying."

At this point my Uncle Robert clapped his hands and said something to the effect of we should probably eat before the food got cold. 

I never apologized. 

I also didn't eat dinner there that night. I might have been raised in a place where kids aren't taught right, but at least we were taught not to touch the food if you've pissed off the kitchen staff. 

When we got back to my aunt and uncle's house my aunt made me a sandwich. She also said, "You're right, he's pretty annoying." Which made my cousin laugh so hard she peed a little. 

It was on that visit that I decided there was such a thing as a town too small. And one where the whistle blows to tell you when to eat, is too small. 

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