When I was a growing up I had a wee bit more energy than most. The term we would use today would be ADHD. Back then, the less politically correct but probably more accurate label was “Spawn of Satan.” Let’s face it, the sixth child of seven was not going to get a lot of supervision from parents or older siblings. Summers were spent running shoeless and chasing chickens in nearby coops. I had my fair share of scrapes with authority figures and near death experiences—all before the age of eight.
I think it was a family thing. I had four brothers who, even as young teens, were hauled into city hall on accusations of being a “gang”. Mind you, this town was nestled in Southeastern Idaho and had a population of roughly 300 people. Farm boys tipping cows was the closest this town was going to get to anything resembling the LA riots.
Our family lived in a religious town and were considered by the good church-going townsfolk as questionable (another politically correct term.) My father could cuss like a sailor and hold his liquor but would never be caught sitting in a pew. Mom went to church most Sundays, worked full time, came home to help my Dad on the farm, and managed to keep her brood of seven fed. So when it was all said and done everyone and everything was stretched a little thin. By the time my little sister and I came along the only thing that was left to trickle down to us was more freedom and less brains. And it was this combination that made the other parents a little bit nervous.
When I was seven I had a friend who lived across the street. He was a year younger than me and to protect the guilty we’ll just call him Kimothy Tershaw.
We were in the summer of free love and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In—TV’s gregarious show of the 60’s. It featured two men in tuxedos and bow ties, holding martinis, telling stale jokes while scantily clad women (and a very young Goldie Hawn) danced around them in a frenzied manner. The women even showed their [whispers] belly buttons. My other best friend—we’ll call her Wessica Jorrell—had a mother who forbade her from watching Elvis Presley movies for that very reason. I, on the other hand, loved Elvis Presley. I don’t think I could have told you what a belly button was. Anyway, I digress . . .
So growing up on a steady diet of Laugh In, the gyrating hips of Elvis, and bare belly buttons no wonder I was on a one-way, greased sled to hell. One day we were on Kimothy’s porch playing who-knows-what when I just got it into me to dance. I guess that is what you’d call it. Blame Elvis. Blame Goldie. But all of a sudden I started gyrating, wiggling, and jiggling like a possessed demon on crack. Folks, forget about the thousand and one devils wanting to inhabit the bodies of swine in the Bible. Here was a small seven-year-old girl with plenty of room and talent to spare. Maybe I was restless. Maybe I was just old before my time and knew that in the future people would be forwarding drippy emails that would read “If you’re not ashamed you’ll forward this” and “dance like no one’s watching”; because that is exactly what I did. I started dancing like no one was watching and without shame.
But someone was watching. And that is exactly why I think people should include the fine print in their “live life to the fullest” diatribe. If you really dance like that and someone catches you you’ll soon be wearing a new pair of rubber sheets and sporting a strange but spiffy retainer between your teeth. ALWAYS dance like you’re with your parole officer. It saves time, embarrassment, and a good witch burning.
Kimothy’s dad just happened to walk by and, when he came upon my spasmodic moves, he hid and peered through the crack in the door. I guess he was trying to give me the benefit of the doubt to make sure it wasn’t just because someone had forgot to medicate me that day. The next thing I know he is popping out from behind the door and pulling Kimothy inside. I was summarily dismissed from his porch. Dang. Where was my parole officer when I needed him?
The next day Kimothy told me his Dad thought it would be best if we weren’t friends anymore. I think I took it pretty well. At least I don’t have any memory of my head rotating 360 degrees nor spewing projectile vomit across the yard. I certainly took it better than the time my sister wouldn’t give me her money for extra candy. I kicked HER in the shins.
I now have my own porch and was able to make it through life without needing a parole officer. I still like to shake my bootie every now and then. I know I’m living life to the fullest because when I dance my teenagers start pulling curtains to hide the view from our neighbors.
But, the nice thing is, their dad still wants me on his porch.