When I was a boy I got into a lot of mischief. I like that word, mischief. It has an innocent sound to it. Sometimes I got in trouble for the mischief I did. Sometimes I didn’t get caught. Other times I got in trouble for things I didn’t do. Sometimes I was blamed for things over which I had no control. Some days my life just took an ugly turn and one bad thing led to another like falling dominoes.
One afternoon I was sitting on the toilet after school in the privacy of our own bathroom. I finished my business and rose to leave. I looked up and there conveniently in front of me were two handles for the metal wardrobe that my mother used to store cleaning supplies and clean linens and towels.
When I pulled myself up the door came open and the cabinet started to tip over. I didn’t have time to pull my pants up. With my pants around my ankles I pushed the cabinet back into an upright position. Then I bent to pull my pants up. What I didn’t know is that the cabinet was resting on the base molding and when I let go to pull up my pants the cabinet door opened and the wardrobe started down again. This time things began to spill out and crash into the toilet.
My sister Melony heard the commotion and took it upon herself to whip open the door, whereupon she began to scream loudly. She didn’t come in and help. She didn’t go out and shut the door. She just stood there and screamed while I struggled with my pants around my ankles to get the cabinet back into an upright position and dodge the cans and jars and linens that were falling into the toilet.
This was forty years ago, but what was fresh in my mind was the thing that bothered me most was not the mayhem in the bathroom but my irritation with my sister for standing there screaming while my pants were down. I try not to be bitter but when I think of that to this day it troubles me. How could she do that to me knowing that if I bent to pull up my pants the cabinet would fall over, and if I didn’t I would be exposed and publicly shamed? That’s a heavy burden to carry for four decades.
My mom was talking on the phone. I could have told her that once the kids are home trying to talk on the phone is probably not a good idea, but since I was only five she wouldn’t have listened. Mom came in and saw the toilet full of towels, linens, broken furniture polish and other things.
The first thing she said was “Kenny, pull your pants up!”
I tried to tell her that for the last five minutes pulling my pants up was my one object in life but she didn’t want to listen. She just turned and said, “Get out of my sight.” I did. I have been trying to stay out of sight as much as possible since.
The other day my mom and I were having a laugh about this incident. It’s good to remember that when everything is coming unraveled in your life and no matter how hard you try you can’t get your life together, and when all the bad things you have ever done are catching up to you at once, that one day you will be able to laugh about it. Trust me, you will. You will laugh some day. In the mean time it might be a good idea to get in the habit of locking the bathroom door when you use it.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
December 1, 2003