Tag Archives: Muskogee

The Time I Ate Ketchup from the Dump

I have had plenty of not-so-graceful moments in my life. I had a spell my freshman year of college that every time I saw this one girl Lonni I fell down. I’m not sure why she caused me to fall, but I’m blaming the fact that she was tall and statuesque and somehow altered my gravitational pull.

Me as a 1-year-old

I was a cute kid. I'm celebrating my first birthday in this photo. From here on out, I was an idiot.

One of my least-fine hours came when I was 4 or 5… I’m hoping more toward 4, because the older I was when this thing happened, the closer I am to being full loony.

My stepdad’s folks, whom I called Nanny and Papa, were wonderful people who lived in the sticks of south-central Oklahoma (Healdton, for you Okies) and they’d come to the Big City of Muskogee to our house every now and again. They always packed their own coffee (Sanka!) and have these adorable 1960s style suitcases that I loved.

During one of their visits, which were rare, we went to the county dump. I’m not sure why we’d take my Papa, a World War II vet who was in the third wave at Normandy, a fine man who worked for Mobil Oil and sang Hank Williams to me, to the dump. Not to mention my Nanny —  who cut all the peanuts out of Snickers bars for me (I don’t like nuts in chocolate now, and I certainly didn’t then), who gave me Honeycomb and grape juice every morning and always had snack-size Milky Ways in the freezer and made the absolute best biscuits I’ve ever tasted – why would we take dear Nanny to the dump?

We must’ve been looking for something, doing a bit of salvaging. My stepdad and Papa, as well as my mother, were builders who knew how to do everything. Papa was a carpenter and also knew machinery, and my stepdad was an electrician in the Navy who taught me and mom, and especially my brother Nick, how to do stuff we had no business doing.

Anyway, this fine Saturday morning we went to the dump. I remember being in awe of all the shit piled up everywhere. My mother, being the germaphobe that she was, of course instructed me not to touch anything. You think I listened? Of course not! I’m surprised I didn’t lick everything. I was a weird kid.

Which brings me to my point: I guess they should’ve fed me before taking me to the dump. I remember being hungry, and I remember I was wearing a cute top and wishing I could roll around in the dirt, but instead being restricted from rolling, or we wouldn’t go eat afterward.

A Heinz Ketchup Package

The object of my affection at the dump.

Well, they should’ve packed a snack. Because I saw a pack of ketchup from McDonald’s at the dump – on the ground, amid all the trash — and I picked it up and tore it open with my teeth and sucked all the ketchup out.

Yes, I did this. Yes, I realize I shouldn’t be admitting it. But I live to entertain you, and I’m sure every one of you did something dumb like this as a kid. Maybe not THIS dumb, but hugely stupid nonetheless.

My mom, God rest her soul, wanted to lay down and die that moment. She yanked my arm and slapped the packet out of my hand. My stepdad, the Master of Germaphobes, got this revolted look on his face. I remember starting to feel guilty and stupid.

My Nanny and Papa? They laughed, probably more at the parents than me. They knew I’d survive, that it was something all stupid kids do. But I’ll never forget that look of shame and revulsion on my folks’ faces.

And they didn’t let me forget it, either. I’m pretty sure we went home without going out to eat after that, and that was the saddest moment ever.


Filed under Childhood, Food, General Nonsense

The time I fell out a window and my parents couldn’t find me

The weather’s nice out today, which reminds me of my growin’ up times in Muskogee. My stepdad and mom built a house west of BFE, with all new stuff and rust-colored shaggy carpet. It was 1979 or so when we moved in, and I guess they didn’t think about me much when they built in the most remote area of Oklahoma they could find.

Kids weren’t plentiful in that area, which I credit for my special brand of … individuality, I guess you’d call it. I spent a lot of time by myself, entertaining myself, because my mom always seemed to be cranky about something and I could only help my stepdad on so many projects before he wanted to saw me in half.

I loved talking (and still do, which I know thrills my deskmates to no end) and my dad (who lived in Dallas, far, far away from my yakking) bought me a tape recorder with a microphone. I used to record my own news and variety shows, something I did well into my teen years. (I also used to type fake newspapers. I was doomed.) I got some good stuff on tape, and they’ve long since disintegrated, which is sad. I’d love to hear them again. I remember singing “Waiting Child,” the song about kids who need to be adopted, which was part of a segment the ABC affiliate here played to tug on those heartstrings. It worked. I was a liberal crying mess even at that age.

So  my parents build this house, and a year into living there, the air conditioning goes out. Or we never really had one and they lied to me all those years. I’m not sure. I just know that the parents in that house didn’t fix it until right before I moved out for college. My mom said she didn’t like AC; I swear they were torturing me. To this day, I break out in hives at the idea of my AC going out.

So one sunny, beautiful day, I’m sitting in my windowsill, windows open to get some sort of draft in that stale steamy house, and I’m, of course, yammering on into my tape recorder, talking some sort of irreverent bullshit, rocking back and forth and having a big ol’ time. I remember singing at one point.

I leaned back too far, and the screen popped out, and all 42 pounds or so of me tumbled onto the rock flowerbed below. My legs dangled over the sides of the sill and my head landed square on a rock. I was writhing in pain and eventually crumpled completely out of the window, coming to rest in a patch of geraniums.

I was screaming my head off, and the ‘Rents ran in my bedroom, looking for me, and I was nowhere to be seen. I was really hurt, but got up on my knees to look into my bedroom, expecting arms reaching out to grab me. They were running around like they were late to work and they’d lost their keys. They were also looking in the ridiculous places you look when you’ve lost your keys. I remember my mom looking between the bunkbeds, like I’d somehow folded myself  like a wallet and tucked myself between the beds. My stepdad was looking in my toybox, and yes, I could’ve fit there, but why would I be screaming? Finally, tearfully, I said in a little quiet voice, “I’m out here.”

They rushed to pull me in, and my mom scooped me up and I cried for a minute, then laughed about it, my usual way of dealing with my clumsiness. They laughed too, and it was one of those stories that still gets retold.

The hilarity didn’t stop there: The whole thing was caught on tape. Oh boy did my family have fun with that. They played back the tape in front of everybody (I don’t know who “everybody” entailed, I just remember being mortified) and even played the clip of me singing “Waiting Child” in my mournful 6-year-old voice.

I didn’t do anymore windowsill recording, and I was really quiet about all my recording, lest I be heard doing amateur traffic reports from my bedroom. My voice got all low and whispery, which is probably why I now have this deep Wolfman Jack voice now. Someday, I’ll upload a video of me doing my Barry White impression. It’s spot-on.

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Filed under General Nonsense