(And when I say "everything they wanted," I feel like I should clarify that they didn't ask for much. A stuffed bear, a doll, some dress-up things. Nothing extravagant or crazy.)
I made a breakfast of biscuits and bacon and fried apples, like the apples my Granny used to make. I was so excited to share that with them - somehow, I've been a mom for almost 7 years and I've not made my kids fried apples? I waited too long, they both claimed it was gross and wouldn't eat. Fine, I said, more for me.
We eventually made it over to Mom and Dad's. We opened presents (they bought us too much, like always) and had a great lunch of Thanksgiving foods because for actual Thanksgiving this year we declared it Thanksdonnakah and had an Italian feast instead of the traditional meal and my Dad and brother were really missing Mom's homemade dressing.
We watched A Christmas Story while we ate, but after that was over, Dad pulled out the VHS-to-DVDs he recently had converted and we took a trip back in time 30 years. I saw my grandparents again and heard their sweet voices sing. I cried. We watched my brother's third birthday, and fifteen-year-old Natalie and Tabitha camping at The Property in July of 1995 - that was the time with Dad and the snake skin we all thought was a snake.
Brooke Hudson popped up in some videos from 1988 and 1989. Brooke was my best friend in an awkward stage of my life. She was a little older than me, probably 10 to my 8, but not enough for it to make too much of a difference yet. She spent a lot of time playing at my house.
Mom was upstairs in the kitchen when I was telling Geneva about Brooke. "What was her name?" Mom asked. I told her. "She was the one who lived just up the street here, right?" Yep. Then she said it:
"That's whose house me and Pam egged that time."
Mom: "Yeah. We egged her house. Well, her mom's house. We were just talking about that the other day. Why did we bring that up...?"
Me, incredulous, but already knowing the answer and not yet believing: "Really?! Why?"
Mom: "Her mom said something to you that hurt your feelings, I don't remember exactly. So Pam and I egged her house." Then, to make it okay, "It was Halloween."
I knew exactly why my mom had egged that house. I never in a thousand years would've imagined that my mom would have ever egged a house, much less in retribution for some mean thing some grown-up said to me, but I knew...
(This is where we travel back in time, to 2010, where I told a story from 1990ish. This next part is from a blog entry titled "I'm a little sensitive, okay?!" dated December 10, 2010. I apparently remembered a lot more details then than I do now about the incident in question.)
When I was a child, about 10 or 11 years of age, my Momma bought me an outfit from one of those fancy children's clothing boutiques. I can't remember the reason - if it was for a birthday or Christmas - or if I was with her when she bought it (I seem to think I was). I just know it was, at that point, the most expensive outfit I'd ever been given (as memory serves, Momma spent close to $80 on it), and I loved it.
It was a knee-length skirt (again, I was a kid) and a jacket made out of shiny black vinyl that I pretended was leather. The jacket had cool silver zippers and buckles and snaps that made me feel "tough" in a "I'm a pretty princess" sort of way. The shirt that went under the jacket was stiff, 3/4-length sleeved, and lime green.
I had the outfit for months before I finally wore it. The more I remember, it must've been Christmas when it was gifted to me - I think it was too cold to wear it at first. I remember it was a warm day in Spring when I finally pulled it out of the closet and decided "this is the day. I'm wearing this today." I was a, um...stout child. I wasn't fat, but I was never skinny. The outfit was a bit snug, and I really did recognize that my favorite closet-dwelling get-up was made of black vinyl, not leather. And I knew I didn't see a lot of kids out and about wearing black vinyl. But I felt SO COOL when I wore that skirt and jacket around the house. I had to show it to the world; I had to share it with the world.
It was a Saturday. I was brave, but not brave enough to wear that outfit for the first time to school. My best friend Brooke, who lived 3 doors up the street, came over to play. She loved my outfit. I beamed. The day progressed, and at one point we had to go to Brooke's house. Her mom was weird, and kind of a bitch, so I stayed outside rather than following Brooke into the house. Her mom came to the door to talk to me anyhow.
Brooke's mom (I can't remember her name, of course) was a big woman. The sort that if you hug you'll kind of sink into, but she wasn't a hugging sort of person; she used her size to intimidate. She always had a helmet of box-colored red curls always perfectly styled around her head - that remained the case until her firefighter husband left her a few years later, after which she would sometimes answer the door in her pajamas with half of those curls matted to one side, even at 3 in the afternoon.
So she came to the door to talk to me after Brooke disappeared into the depths of her home in search of her Ken doll so we could even up the odds back at my place or to get her My Little Pony board game or maybe to grab her electric razor because she'd forgotten to shave her legs that morning and suddenly realized it needed to be done RIGHT NOW. (Brooke was a year or two older than me, and she did shit like that. She was a little odd. She also had a missing tooth, with a fake on a retainer that she liked to take out and use to scare me.) The woman stood on the stoop of her porch, looking down on my 10-year-old self standing on the walkway below her, and she said,
"What are you wearing?"
I knew from her tone this was not going to go well. I willed her to not say it. "This is my new outfit. My Momma got it for me. Do you like it?" I'm chanting in my head now "Don't hurt my feelings, you mean witch. Don't make me cry. Please don't be mean to me." I'm just a kid.
Brooke's mom sneers. "It looks like a garbage bag."
My heart was crushed.
I laughed as if she'd made a joke. She said some more words about the material and zippers I was wearing. Brooke appeared from inside the house and walked back with me back to my house, where I quietly changed out of my skirt, out of my jacket, out of the stiff, 3/4 length sleeved, lime green shirt. I hung them in the closet. I never wore them again.
I felt guilt for years when I thought of that outfit. Guilt because my Momma paid so much money for it and I only wore it that one time. Guilt because she and Daddy worked hard to earn that money and it was only worn once and then hung in the closet to moulder for years before finally being donated to Goodwill. Eventually the guilt turned into anger. Anger at Brooke's mom for being such a raging bitch. Who says shit like that to anyone, much less a child?
I don't remember telling my mom what Brooke's mom had said to me. I am sure I didn't come home and cry about it, make a fuss. I was too embarrassed, ashamed. That woman had made me feel self-conscious in a way that no adult had ever done. I was used to being teased - that was par for the course at school every day. But to have an adult shame me, to make me feel small...that was a new experience. In my home, in my world, grownups said things like, "you are so smart" and "you're so pretty" and "you can be anything you want to be." Grownups did not insult your new outfit and then pick apart the things that made it wrong.
As an almost-40 year old, though, I know my mom must have noticed that outfit I'd been so proud of was hanging in my closet unworn. I know my mom didn't spend that kind of money on that outfit and not notice that it was hanging in the closet unworn. So I guess at some point the story came out - the why of why I wasn't wearing the special clothes I'd been so happy to wear.
And my Momma got retribution. That woman probably thought forever and always that her house was egged by rowdy teenagers; I'm certain she never knew that her house was egged by a couple of 30-something-year-old women pissed at her because she was a bitch who said mean shit to a little kid.
To my Momma and my Aunt Pam, I love you forever. I've always loved you, but this - this brings a whole new facet. From now on, all I want for Christmas is stories of shit you two did that you wouldn't tell us before because we were kids. Start writing.
Merry Christmas, Friends! May you all have an egg-throwing superhero in your corner.
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Please don't make me cry.