One day, when I was about ten, I was playing with two of my older girl friends. And while we were playing, one of my friends dropped the “F” bomb.
This was the first time I heard the word. And not wanting to appear like a total dweeb, I just pretended to know what it meant and continued to play. All I wanted was for wanted these older girls to like me and keep inviting “the kid,” as they nicknamed me, to keep hanging out with them. In kid years a two-year gap is HUGE. It was a big deal to get invited to play by older kids. So I was not going to risk blowing it by acting like a baby or a dork and ask my friend for the official Merriam-Webster definition of the “F” word – because I didn’t have an ‘F’ing clue.
My big mistake was going home and yelling: “Hey mom, what does “F” mean. Yup…that was big mistake. Because even though my mother was a large gal, when I said those words, she shot out of her chair like a rocket ship and pinned me against the wall like I was a gnat. I knew then that I was in big trouble and got my first inkling that I was going to end up as toast.
And with the cold finesse of a master Gestapo interrogator pointing a gun at a prisoner’s forehead – in a split second my mother, Himmler Jr., got me to rat out my good friend for dropping the “F” bomb, confess to the Lindbergh kidnapping, admit to being the second shooter on the grassy knoll and to burying Jimmy Hoffa in our backyard. I was just about to confess to something else when I realized my mother was no longer listening to me because she had what she wanted. She had gotten me to sing like a stool pigeon and to name names. And that’s when I knew I had just “F” upped and could kiss my friendship goodbye. I was totally and completely screwed…and my friend would soon be too. I had fallen right into my mother’s trap. And the toast was about to get burned.
In less than a fraction of the time it takes Santa to zip down the chimney and back, my mother, who had all the diplomacy of a Sherman tank on steroids, was on the phone to my friend’s mother, THE most devout Catholic woman in town. (This lady was so pious she made the Pope look like a slump.) And it should not be a huge surprise to anyone reading this that Ms. Pious did not believe anything so vile could come from her daughter’s mouth. So one of the nicer things she cursed at my mother in Italian was she “hoped all of my children would be born with hoofs.” Which, as a horse lover, I didn’t think sounded all that bad. But my mother did not take this particular piece of information all that well. And that was the exact moment in time when two families, that had been good friends for many years, swore never to speak to one another again. And they where true to their word. They never did. A friendship forged over years was thrown in the trash like yesterday’s news.
What is tragic about this story is up until I opened my big, fat mouth and my mother placed that – my kid is an angel and your kid is guilty as sin phone call – our families had been very close friends – like family really. In fact, our whole street was. One of my favorite childhood pictures was taken in the Pious families den. It captures the first man walking on the moon. All us Drummond Road kids are sitting on the floor in front their little black and white TV watching history together. All of our parent’s were crammed in that tiny little den too. And that is the way we did stuff back then, together, like a big extended family.
But because of that one phone call, the closeness of Drummond Road would never be the same. Over the years, other family splits would occur too over equally dumb stuff – always caused by us kids who lied like sin, but, looked like little angels…yeah right.
And what is so ironic about this true tale is that when my friend committed her sin, it’s not like I was sitting at the craft table that afternoon coloring in pictures of baby Jesus and a little lamb when she dropped the “F” bomb corrupting sweet, little me. Truthfully, I don’t remember what I was doing. But knowing me as well as I do, I would bet whatever I was doing it was JUST as bad if not worse as trying out new cuss words. There is a very strong possibility that I was playing with matches, making crank phone calls or ringing someone’s door bell and running like hell. Little Laurie-Ann was no saint. I was just a normal kid. And normal kids are in all likelihood guilty of something. Looking back now at all the wise ways my mother handled kid’s stuff, I’m surprised she did factor this in BEFORE picking up the phone and irreparably damaging a friendship.
For added giggles, my grandmother told me that when my mother, “Little Millie,” was the same age of as my now ex-friend (the “F” bomb dropper), Little Millie was no saint herself.
In fact, my dear mother swore like a sailor in her youth. Little Millie had such a potty mouth, my grandmother nicknamed her “The Sailor” and ran through cases of Dial of soap hoping to encourage her to clean up her mouth. But my mother was stubborn as hec. And in the summer of 1937, my poor grandmother had to wash out my mother’s mouth so many times, the state of Connecticut almost ran out of dial soap! Thank God they were too poor for a telephone or my grandmother would have been run ragged by other mother’s calls. Little Millie was no angel. Not many kids are.