I looked forward to weekends. That’s two days of peace away from “those meanies”. It was also when we headed up north to see family. Since I didn’t have any brothers or sisters I substituted my many cousins in place. A lot of them went out of their way to include me and entertain me. From them I learned that there was a “good” kind of teasing and joking.
There was one summer where Dave & Paul made me recite “Little Miss Muffet” over and over while they howled with laughter. At the time I thought it was because it was silly to be afraid of a spider, but later learned it was because I was mispronouncing “curds and whey” as “turds and way”. Then there’s the time Michael would throw in a W whenever he asked me to spell my name. “It’s T-R-A..” I’d begin, “W!” he interjected. “No! It’s T-R-A..” I’d start again. “W!” He’d throw in again. This would go on for several minutes until one of us got distracted.
Then there was the incident that I paid a heavy price in my later social life. It happened at a family Christmas party at my grandparent’s place. I was about four years younger than most of my cousins there. There were about ten of us in the basement playing. Being teenagers, with the exception of me, they decided to play “Spin the Bottle”. They pulled out the portable bed away from the wall and put one side down, for the “matches” to go behind. We all sat in a circle and spun an empty pop bottle. I watched each pair go behind that bed for a few minutes, come back out and everyone would giggle. Finally the bottle spun around to me and Danny. We went behind the bed, kneeled on the floor across from each other, and rested our stomachs and elbows on the mattress, our faces several inches apart. Danny leaned in close, “So you having fun?” he whispered. “Yeah”, I whispered back. “Are you excited for Christmas?” he asked. “Yeah, I can’t wait!” I whispered excitedly. “School starts again in a few weeks?” he continues, “Yeah” I respond, “What grade?” he asks. “Grade Five” I answer.
“Okay great, let’s tease the other cousins. When we go back out there, you tell them we kissed” he tells me. “Okay” I agree. We got up and rejoined the circle. “What happened back there?” Sharon asks me. “We kissed” I giggled. So whenever it was my turn, we just sat back there and chatted. Now fast-forward five years. I’m in high school at a sleepover at a girlfriend's place with a group of girls. “Let’s play Spin the Bottle” one girl suggested. Which I thought was stupid because we were all girls, so what was the point, “Oh that’s boring!” my hands flurried before I could catch myself. The rest of the girls gasped and glanced at each other. “Oh you easy open legs” one girl signed to me. I tried to explain what goes on in my “version”, but it was too late, the rumors flew around the school the following week.
When this group of cousins got older and got more independent and interested in other activities, I turned my attention to my younger cousins. They were at least five years younger than me. Jennifer, Rosemary, & Jason lived across the street from our grandparents and we often ended up in Papa and Nana’s basement to play. One game we played often was what we called “Alley Oops”. We pretended we were kids living in an alleyway. The basement room we lived in had a sofabed along one wall, a portable bed across from it, a Formica topped table along the wall to the right of the sofa, and various sizes and shapes of chairs side by side all the way around. We’d pop open the sofabed and the portable bed, and we’d walk all the way around the room on the chairs and table without touching the teal colored carpet. This was because in our game the alley was flooded. Pretty much a different version of the popular "Lava Floor" games. There have been times where Papa would come down, open the door and catch us climbing off the table or climbing to the next chair. We’d freeze in mid stride like a deer in headlights. Papa would scan the room, mutter something in French, and close the door. Papa and Nana’s phone was on a party line. So if the phone rang, you would have to wait for three long rings and two short rings to identify that the call was for this house. They had an extension phone down in our playroom. Whenever the phone rang, Jennifer or Rosemary would pick up the phone, cover the mouthpiece and we’d all listen in. The girls would be giggling and whispering about what was happening, but for me it was just sounds. Much like Charlie Brown’s teacher on the Peanuts cartoons, “Wah Wah Wah Wah” was all I heard.
Wintertime meant SNOWMOBILING!! I loved riding it, so much that I started driving one by myself at eight years old. Yeah the nearly blind kid on a powerful 1960s skidoo.....lookout! Christmas and New Year family gatherings at Papa & Nana's meant several cousins bringing their own skidoos to ride around the big two acre backyard. After dinner when it was dark out, the "gang" decided to do some driving around. I wanted to ride along so Danny took me out on his. I "always" sit behind the driver and hold on that way, but Danny insist I sit up front. I tried protesting, "I'm not used to that!" "Get up front or get off!" was his answer. So being a young kid not wanting to miss out on the fun, I slid up front. Our old skidoo helmets were made for half the head, much like today's bicycle helmets. After bouncing around for several minutes, I don't know if Danny didn't see someone, or something under the snow, but he crashed. My face smashed into the engine block panel in front. I must have blacked out or been dazed enough not to remember, because the next thing I know I'm in Nana's kitchen with my mom and all the aunts surrounding me and I'm screaming in pain. Turns out I chipped a front tooth.
Well that didn't stop me from driving them, my Dad would go out and make tracks around Papa's yard severl times, give me the snowmobile, then I'd drive around following those tracks all day. Until I rebelled and started making my own tracks, much to the dismay of my grandfather. He'd open the back window and scream "Stay out of the Garden!". I thought he was crazy! I later learned it was because he didn't want his dirt packed down and have more work for his tractor. I usually went "full throttle" too! I don't know if skidoos have a "Govenor" to control the speed, but man I felt like I was flying! Probably freaked my mother out Heh. I drove that old skidoo right up until I was sixteen, when the damn thing just died. Nothing Dad could do to revive it. The newer snowmobiles were way too expensive, so I just gave it up and pursued other interests instead.
There's still days when I look out the window at the gentle snow falling that I wish I had one to rip around in.