Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Forbidden Fruit: The Tale of the Stolen Mike and Ike

I never went through a stealing phase in high school; I was too fucking scared of my mother.  
      When I was 6 years old, I was at the mall with my mom and we were at a candy cart manned by someone; not like now, where you stick a quarter or however much money in and the candy comes out, but someone who was paid to man the cart and dole out the scoops of candy by weight. My mother was speaking to the candy cart woman person and I was...oh, you know, just eyeing the goods, surveying the inventory, when I spotted something I couldn’t take my eyes off: Mike and Ikes. Weighing the pros and cons to how badly I needed the red one, I decided to take my chances and go for it. I stuck my little midget hand in to the plastic case, and grabbed my red Mike an Ike: the forbidden fruit. As soon as my hand left the case, however, I knew I was donzo because it made a plastic clanking noise and my mother craned her neck from the other side of the cart where she was talking to the vender and said: MARGARET. COME HERE. I obediently did as I was told and stood next to my mother. OPEN YOUR MOUTH she instructed. What was I to do? If I opened my mouth I was caught, if I didn’t, I was caught. So I just shook my head no, I wasn’t gonna open my mouth. Look fear in the face, I say. Well my mom wasn’t having anything to do with my nonsense, so she forced my mouth open as you would a creaky old bulkhead door after being sealed shut from a long winter and hooked out the half chewed candy I had illegally taken and growled to the vender: HOW MUCH DO I OWE YOU FOR THIS. I could see fear in the candy cart lady’s eyes, too...and she said oh, don’t worry about it. My mother persisted and they settled on a coin amount of some kind. 
On the way home I felt so much shame I sat in the way back of the car and hung my head. I knew I was done for because my mom was going to tell my father, then the whole family would know of my illicit behavior, and a pox would be put on my head for life: THEIF. I saw it all play out, even with the tacky black and white striped jail outfits with those awful pill box hats I saw in the cartoons. That night, I avoided my family entirely, too fearful of their judgement. 
From that point on, I did not steal a single thing, even as peers around me began to have sticky fingers with Wet ‘n’ Wild because I knew Adrienne would find out and have more steam emit from her head than a Turkish bath house. My lessoned was definitely learned early on in life. Just goes to show you what a Catholic mom and some amazing guilt can do to the psyche of a young girl. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Three Strikes for Skiing

Growing up in the North East region of this country it’s practically mandatory that at one time in your life you learn to ski and participate in ski trips up north. I was part of this statistic, and have more or less been scarred in doing so.  
Skiing is one of New England’s joys--a rite of passage for all in the region. I was not immune to this hazing; I learned how to make a pizza pie down the bunny slope just like every other white person in the region. (I mean, it’s true.) On three separate occasions I have loathed this downward trending sport due to injury and worry. 
When I was 9, my family went up to Mt. Cranmore with friends of ours for a weekend; Yay! Group activities! The first full day of skiing, I was going down a slope with my father  and his friend, who happened to be over 6 feet tall and about 220-250 lbs. Half way down the slope, I didn’t know where my father was, so I did a nice neat little stop to look back at the trail to know his whereabouts. As I was curtly slicing the snow to a halt, my father’s friend Ed came barreling into me and literally skied over me. I didn’t know what the fuck had happened, all I kept on asking myself once I was embedded into the snow like an M&M in a cookie is if I could feel my heart beating; my rationale was simple: if I could feel my heart beating than I must still be alive.  I stayed on the ground skies already strewn down the slope, spread eagle with my head facing down hill, wide eyed looking at the sky. Ed came running back up to me asking if I was alright--could I move? Margaret--can you hear me? Ye-yes. I can hear you. I’m fine...I’m fine! And up I popped on to the hill. I didn’t want to embarrass my father and cause a scene (too fucking late there, Margaret). My father asked me simple questions: can yah move yah neck? yes. can yah move yah legs and ahms? yes. Yo-wah fine. Let’s get goin’! And on we went with our day. Skiing got its first strike against me that day. 
The next day, my father and I were gliding down a sweet little trail hugging the outside of the mountain; on the right hand side were rocks and trees, on the left a drop off descending I’d guess about 10-15 feet. So there we were skiing along, and my father, being the kind man he is, was always checking on me, looking back to see that I was alright. (I had, after all been skied over the day before). One such time, I was looking back at me and skied off the trail. As in, one instant I saw him, the next, *poof* he was gone. Just like that, I witness my father plummet to his death. DAAAAD! DAAAAAD! I yell. Mah-grett? Can yah he-yah me? YES DAD! I CAN HEAR YOU! A Boston accent had never sounded so wonderful. Mah-grett, I’m ah-rite...and just like that, a man that was behind us saw the whole thing and extended his pole and he scaled the monstrous cliff back to safety. I was so shaken up I began to cry--holy shit my father almost just was killed because he was trying to make sure I was ok. If that’s not guilt, I don’t know what is. Skiing now had two strikes against in my book. 
A few years later (I must have been 14 or 15 at this point) my father and I decided to spend a Saturday up at Gunstock in New Hampshire. Being a seasoned veteran of skiing my this point, I was confident, loved going through little forest trails and going over small jumps. As far as I was concerned, I was practically ready for the Winter Olympics. Everything was going swimmingly--my dad and I were laughing, enjoying the day, skiing, you know, the idyllic winter scene. On a perfect trail, I decided to veer off on to a small forest glade trail for a few moments; there was always a way to get back on to the original trail. So I ducked into the trees, gliding along, listening to nature--all that bullshit when I decided it was time to hop back on the trail. as I was about to take a left back on the trail, when right in front of me was a tree that wasn’t going to let me go. This was the kind of moment that you see in cartoons, when the nemesis realizes, eyes bugged out of their skull, that the plans they had will not really be working out, since pretty soon, they’re gonna be dead. (Think Wyle E. Coyte). A moment later, I was hanging upside down in that tree wondering what the fuck had just happened. It’s not a coincidence that I have had that thought more than once whilst skiing. Fortunately, there was someone behind me that witnessed me impaling myself into the low branches of the tree, because I remember having someone shout at me: CAN YOU OPEN YOUR EYES! CAN YOU HEAR ME! HOW MANY FINGERS AM I HOLDING UP!! CAN YOU MOVE YOUR NECK! The kind stranger helped disentangle me, asked me a couple of more questions, when I heard my dad farther down the trail yell MAH-GRETT! WHAT’S TAKIN’ YAH SO LONG! Oh, no big deal, dad, almost just died while you’re crying out impatiently for me to get down the fucking hill. Totally fine, my neck was almost snapped, but don’t worry, we’ll go get lunch. Jesus. 
Skiing: that was strike three, you asshole. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I’ve always had a knack for remembering phone numbers...I suppose it began in kindergarten when Mrs. Geany taught us to memorize the local police phone number: 631.1212. (pre 911). I filed it away in my brain in the ‘important things I should probably remember’ folder, knowing it could come in handy. 
A couple days later having just moved into a new house, I wanted to a) meet my neighbors and b) make a few bucks. I went straight to work creating works of art (crayon on construction paper, naturally) and as I was headed out the door, I shouted to my mother:  MOM! I’ll be back...gonna go meet neighbors! 
Off I went knocking on doors and ringing bells. I can’t imagine what people were thinking when they opened their door, looked out, saw nothing, then looked down to find me. Hi! I said. I’m Margaret. I just moved to 12 Locust Street with my mom Adrienne, my father Colin and my sister Hannah. Wanna buy a work of art? Despite their confused expressions, I pushed forward, explaining my desire to know the neighborhood hence why I was going door to door introducing myself. My neighbors must have thought I had a mental disorder. That, or wondering if they should call DSS on my parents. 
No house went unsolicited--I got 'em all.  Content with the .26 cents I had made and impressed with my keen business acumen, I trekked home. 
Upon entering our new house, I shrieked to my mom:  I’m home! I met our neighbors! (silence...) Mom?? (more silence) MOOOOOMMM. Silence. Crickets. Beginning to panic, I began checking closets, running up and down the stairs but she was no where to be found. I felt trapped, abandoned, scared. What was I going to do without my mother?! 
Suddenly, the numbers 631-1212 magically appeared in my vision and knew what had to be done. Call the cops. Yup. How could I not? I'd never been home alone before, and for all anyone knew, my mother was dead.  
Hello, Marblehead Police, how can I help you?, I’m home alone--I don’t know where my mom is...I think she left. Ok. We’ll send someone right over--where do you live? I told the operator everything and waited out in the drive way, nervously pacing when I saw the police officer come around the corner. He started asking me questions when, not 60 seconds later, my mom’s gold Ford Sable came screaming around the corner. Almost levitating out of the car before it was parked, she started screaming and crying probably wondering what the fuck a cop was doing in front of her house with her kid.
Turns out my mother didn’t hear my little pipsqueak voice as I left the house. After calling for me, threatening time-outs she frantically got in her car to try and find me. 
What did I do when I was a kid? Not much. Just called the cops on my mom.