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me: Rain, curly hair... totally busted.

Issue Date: Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007

I told this story to my husband for the first time* the other night after telling him about getting in touch with John and Mike (old friends who moved back to Georgia during high school – in Mike’s case – or shortly after high school – in John’s).

*I probably told Mister this story before as I have a habit of repeating myself and as a bonus he has a habit of not remembering shit.

I was young. Like 6th - 7th grade young and I had this habit, nay... compulsion to sneak out of my house. I was up anyway (read: please note the frillion times I have mentioned that I currently drug myself into a stupor to get to sleep, insomniac, any sentence that begins with 3 am... ect.) so why not be productive. Right? I couldn’t watch TV as my mother was a light sleeper, same with reading all night. I would turn a page and hear my mother getting out of bed to check on me.

I slept (ha.) with a fan on 365 nights a year to act as white noise. It would help mask the sound of a cat slinking past my window outside, my sister yelling at whomever she was mad at (at that moment) in her sleep. “NO!” “mumble mumble” “I WILL NOT!” Traffic three streets over. My father turning over in his sleep. So the fan masked noise for me, but I still had to be careful because it didn’t mask other noise around the house and my mother was as light as a sleeper as I was.

I don’t think she slept through the night from 1970 to at least 1990.

Twenty years, no sleep. No wonder she took (and still takes) cat naps for like 5 minutes; in car rides or in her chair at the house; and awakes fully refreshed and happy, eyes blinking with maybe a small stretch thrown in. Those five minutes naps were probably all the sleep she could get with my sister and I in the house.

So for some reason I decided that it would be a smart move to start sneaking out of the house.

For the first year or so I would just lift my floor length window (that was on the front of the house), quietly pop out the screen, lay the screen up against the house for easy retrieval when I got home, crawl out, close the window and be on my merry way.

No biggie right? I was going for a walk, or to meet friends under the bridge on the bike path, or whatever. Who knows why I decided to just leave in the middle of the night. I wasn’t up to any kind of trouble, other than the whole being outside walking the streets of my neighborhood during the witching hours at like twelve years old. (Seriously, install an alarm.)

There was another insomniac in the neighborhood and she lived right across the street. One night I came home and my parents were up waiting for me. The neighbor had called my mom. I can just hear that phone conversation. “Yeah, I just saw her sneak out of her window about 5 minutes ago.” The next day my father planted a holly bush right outside my window.

Pointy.

I was long limbed, but not long limbed enough to clear a big ass holly bush and be stealthy quiet, and not get caught by Miss Neighborhood Crime Watch lady. So, my little outings stopped for a bit.

Not long though.

I was normally grounded for most of the school year for “Not Meeting My Potential” and or just slacking off on homework. I would ace tests, but if the homework wasn’t done, I wouldn’t pass that portion. I kept up a passable (sometimes even good) average that way, but the teachers were concerned with my general “don’t give a shit” attitude. I was always polite, that is what they didn’t understand. I was always truthful, I... just didn’t care.

teacher: Susan, I don’t understand. You’re test was impeccable, but you have yet to turn in this week’s homework. You know that the homework counts as ___ percentage of your grade, right?
me: Yes ma’am. I apologize, I know that my grades to reflect the homework that is missing. I will be sure to complete the work that is assigned next week.
teacher: Please do.
me: Yes ma’am.

And because my mother was in the school system as a sub-teacher almost daily** she knew of my occasional*** slip ups. And then this conversation would happen.

**My mother was more popular than I was.
***Totally not occasional, more like incessant.

momma: Susan, I spoke with Mrs. History Teacher today, she said that you failed to turn in your homework.
me: Yes ma’am.
teacher: Do you have a good reason for not doing the work that you were assigned.
me: No ma’am.
teacher: What is wrong with you? You have SO MUCH POTENTIAL... and yet you are letting it all just pass you by just because you are lazy.
me: Yes ma’am.

Sadly, this is where I would most likely be nodding in the correct places and making “I completely understand your disappointment in me” noises but I was really planning on what eye shadow would go with my outfit the next day.

When I wasn’t grounded for my grades or procrastination or not applying myself I would be grounded for sneaking out.

So, therefore I was grounded for about six years out of my high school education.

The no privacy rule, no closing the door rule, no lock on your door rule, and you are taking WAY too long in the shower rule, you are grounded and not allowed to watch TV, talk on the phone, go out with your friends and anything that has to do with contact with another human unless it is at church probably drove me batshit insane with desire to just fucking talk to someone without being under the thumb of one parent or another. And Yes... I do realize that I brought most of this on myself with the whole not doing my home work and my sneaking out in the first place but come ON.

Vicious cycle. I know. Whatever.

I stopped sneaking out of my bedroom window and started checking on the windows throughout the rest of the house. Couldn’t go out any doors. There were three. The front door and the back door (to the porch area) that both made this sucking noise like you were pulling a vacuum cleaner hose off of a cat, and the other door was to the garage. I couldn’t go out any doors. So... I was like a freaking mime trying to open the invisible window that wouldn’t make any sound.

I struck gold one afternoon. There was this window that was in the den. It led to the patio. The patio was surrounded by windows. The whole house was surrounded with windows, but my folks slept with their door open to their bedroom and could probably see me with the eyes in the backs of their heads.

OMG, remind me to tell you about the WaterGate phone my mother had in her bedroom. (THE RAGE!)

Back to the window: this was a quiet window. The only downside was that it was on the patio. The patio had patio furniture. Do you see where I am going with this? The patio furniture consisted of a glass table with 4 chairs, a chair with a poofy cushion that was waterproof and a matching couch. The furniture; four table chairs, the table, poofy chair and the couch all had iron frames. The iron framed poofy couch was pushed up against the quiet window.

Can you hear the screams inside my head from like twenty-two years ago?

I was bound and determined to make it work. At least one more time.

It was the summer, I was 13. I was dating my first serious boyfriend. His name was Michael. He had black parachute pants and liked Stryper. I was in lurve. We went to the same church and the same school and he was a bad boy. He was hard rock (Heh... Stryper) and looked a little like Stephen Pearcy from RATT. All tight jeans and dark hair with these piercing green eyes and eyelashes that made you want to punch him in the neck. I think he even wore black eyeliner once... and he pulled it off.

Our parents were scared shitless when we were together.

They should have been.

For some reason... well, let’s just go on the record and say that Mike was experienced. How you get an experienced thirteen year old boy, I am not sure, but unless he was totally faking it, and I bought it... he was experienced.

Lord, I am on page four and I haven’t even gotten to the part where we snuck out.

So, it was summer, the whole church group was going to Six Flags the next day as a fun thing for the kids. Most of us had season’s passes and were at the park several times a month. Michael called me and asked me to meet him behind the school at like midnight or something.

Also? The bike paths were a dream if you were a kid who needed to get somewhere and you had your bike, your feet or a skateboard. As our mom’s drove, Michael and I lived about three miles from each other. As the crow flew, and as the bike trails permitted, we lived about 1 and 3/4 miles away.

So I decided to use the window to the patio. I was reluctant to go out an not because I was tired or needed to get rest for the big day at Six Flags the next day or because I thought it would be stupid to go. I was hesitant because I knew that there was a chance of rain. That afternoon after I got out of the pool I went and took a shower, shaved (my legs pervs), went the whole nines on my hair so it would be ready for Six Flags the next day. But then Michael called. I was worried that if I went out and it actually did rain that I would be busted like a dingo in a daycare facility.

What does naturally curly hair do when faced with humidity? Or God forbid rain? Fro! I would get fro hair. I knew it would be a dead give away because there would be NO way to talk my way out of that one. “Susan, didn’t you go to bed with your hair done? It looks like you let it dry naturally. Or you are trying to imitate Dianna Ross. Did it rain in your ROOM SUSAN!!?!???!!!” Gah.

So, yeah, I wasn’t all on board with this plan for sneaking out. But what the hell, I decided to go. I waited until the house was quiet. I put on sweat pants and a t-shirt or something, some socks and some grey and pink shoes (I Know.) that I could hide if they got muddy or something, (Why sweats in summer? Not sure. Again, thought I could hide my “fat” under baggy clothes.) and headed for the quiet window.

I opened the window, popped out the screen, left it laying between the outdoor couch and the wall and then looked at the approximately 6 inch gap left to squeeze through between the top of the couch (that was squishy – except for that pesky iron bar that made up the frame of said couch) and the top of where the window opened.

I turned to the right in a crouch and braced myself against an end table and the window sill. I stuck my left foot, then my left leg though the small space. I pushed off with my right leg and got my ass and torso through and like some sort of contortionist I pushed myself the rest of the way between the 6 some odd inches left from the top of the iron couch and the bottom of the window... quietly. That is the operative word... quietly.

When I was through the gap, I leaned over the back of the couch and closed the window. QUIETLY. I froze, crouched on the couch, and tried to slow my heart rate so I could listen to see if I had awoken the slumbering parental units in their room.

All was clear.

I tip toed around the perimeter of the pool, back to the where the pool equipment was and scaled the fence. Once I was in the alley I broke into an easy trot to make it to the school and behind it in a few minutes. I met Mike there and we crossed the pipe, talking quietly the whole way. We were on our way across a field when the first sprinkles of rain fell. Not a lot, just enough to make it really humid and BAD for me.

me: Shit.
Michael: What’s wrong?
me: Rain, curly hair... totally busted.
Michael: Can’t you just take a shower and fix your hair when you get back?
me: A quiet shower... with a quiet blow dryer.... ?
Michael: Sorry. Yeah, you’re screwed.
me: [::heavy sigh::]
Michael: Well, since you’re already busted, want a smoke?

He pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and bent over a lighter to light one. He offered it to me after making sure it was fully lit.

me: [::shrug::] Sure, now... what do I do here?
Michael: Well, when you put it to your lips, suck in a little bit, not too much, then when you take it away from your lips, breathe in a little. That’s called inhaling.

I did as I was told. I brought the smoke to my mouth, placed it against my lips, took a small drag and breathed in as I handed the smoke back to him. I blew the smoke out as he was taking a drag and watching me closely.

Michael: You didn’t cough.
me: No. Am I supposed to?
Michael: Maybe you didn’t inhale. Here, try again.
me: Alright.

So I went through the same motions, this time taking a bigger drag and letting the smoke out slowly. Again, no cough.

Michael: Hmmm, maybe you were just born to smoke or something.
me: Whatever.

We walked along in companionable silence for some way, just walking and smoking as we worked out way into a neighborhood. There were new houses being built almost as fast as people could buy them and our suburb was growing rapidly. Michael had come by an open house earlier in the day, just before he called me, and unlocked a window on the side of the house. He thought we could use the house as a hang out for the evening.

We walked around to the side of the house and he slid the window open. The house next to us was completely dark but a yippy dog was going ape shit so I asked him to hurry so the dog wouldn’t wake the family. We used the air conditioning unit to boost ourselves over into the window ledge and left our shoes outside on the A/C unit so we wouldn’t get the house and its’ new carpet muddy.

We slid the window shut and he said, “In here.” And led me into a small bathroom. We sat on the floor and just talked for a while. Then he kissed me and told me that he wanted this to be a special night. He reached into his pocket and brought out a condom.

Hi. I was thirteen. The thought of losing my virginity, even though I was completely in LURVE with this bad boy was enough to make me so nervous that I seriously thought I was going to hurl. He tried to calm me down but just as I was about to seriously throw up (How cool was I?... SO very cool. I know. You’re jealous.) I looked up into the small window that was set up high above the tub/shower combo and saw the blue and red flashing lights of a police car bouncing off the neighbors’ house and the one we were in.

me: Mike, we gotta get out of here... Now.
Michael: Everything will be fine if we just go slow.
me: Let it go man, it’s not going to happen... and we are just about to get busted by the cops.
Michael: WHAT!?
me: Look up at the window. Either the neighbors and their yippy dog called the cops or we tripped an alarm.
Michael: Shit.
me: No doubt. We don’t have time to go out that window. I’m going out the back door.
Michael: But what about my shoes!? They are my new Reeboks!
me: To hell with your shoes. I’m out of here.
Michael: You’re right... right behind you. See you tomorrow.

We bolted out the back door and into a muddy back yard that thankfully hadn’t been fenced in yet. He ran to the left and I hauled ass to the right. I ran in my socks over streets and fields and into alleys and across drain pipes. I got back to my house and I was covered in sweat, I smelled like a cigarette, my socks were destroyed, I had blisters on my feet from running on concrete in wet socks and my hair was HUGE. But, my virginity was in tact, I was home and I didn’t get busted for breaking and entering... even if there was no breaking or damage involved. We snuck into a home that we were not supposed to be in, it could have been worse.

I took off my socks and hid them under my sister’s window, slipped over the fence and tip toed around to the patio window. I froze, thinking something was wrong but I couldn’t hear anything. The house was still dark, the screen was where I left it and the window was still unlocked. I lifted the window, slid back inside between the teeny gap, slowly put the screen back on the window with a teeny “snick”, lowered the window and locked it. I was just standing up to let my eyes get adjusted to the dark of the house when my mother said from a corner chair, “Have fun?” I jumped (because she scared the shit out of me) and I answered truthfully, “Not really.”

momma: We’ll talk about this in the morning. Of course you are grounded and are not going to Six Flags, and I am sure Michael’s parents won’t let him either.
me: Michael?
momma: The two of you were together weren’t you?
me: ...
momma: [his mother] called me. He walked out the front door.
me: ...

And I will go ahead and give you two guesses on who got to go to Six Flags the next day. That is right, Michael. And the last time I saw him, in GA in like 1988 or 1990, he was still razzing me about his freaking Reeboks. “Those were eighty dollar (or whatever) shoes!” “I wasn’t the dumbass that wore new shoes to sneak out in when it was clearly muddy as hell... EVERYWHERE!”

Since it’s been like 17 years, and we are back in touch, he is married with twins we are having a blast getting caught up on everything that we’ve missed. But we made each other a deal, I won’t sing him any Journey songs and he won’t even allude to those freaking Reeboks or he is dead to me. But... I never promised that I wouldn’t out him and the story of the freaking Reeboks on the internet.


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And because of said comments he sent me my very own dream turtle in an email titled wee gift with these words attached, “my purple monkey is booked solid so i ordered you a tangerine turtle. hope he proves helpful.”

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