Don’t Hide Under the Bed!

28 02 2010

Fond Memories

So, what was your worst moment as a kid? Most everyone can look back to their childhood days and recall a time or event they would like to delete if they could get a do-over.  Mine came during a visit with my mother’s cousin, Jeannie-Kay and her family.

Jeannie-Kay and her husband, Alfred, had about 40 children. I really don’t know how many kids they had; but, when we went for a visit and the family would come out to greet us I remember it was like that routine you see at the circus where this tiny car enters the ring and then a long procession of clown, after clown, after clown comes out. You begin to wonder where all the clowns are coming from and how they all got into that tiny little car. I think the actual number of kids was about 15 or so.

The family was dirt poor. I mean, we didn’t have much ourselves, but, they made us look like the Rockefellers. Alfred had only one arm and drove a taxi for a living. I don’t recall how he lost his left arm, or if I ever even knew, but I was always amazed to watch him do things that a man with two good arms would struggle to do.

My earliest recollection of Jeannie-Kay was once when I was four years old I can recall her sitting in our living room nursing one of her many children. Although I can vividly recall that, I don’t think I was scarred for life as a result of this experience. But that’s another story.

Hide (and Seek?)

One of my favorite games as a child was hide. Now most folks would call this hide and seek, which is a much more accurate name for the game. I mean, what kind of game is hide? How can you have hiders and no seeker? Everyone runs off and finds these great hiding places, but then there’s no one to come and find them. I can just see all of us kids scattered about hiding behind the garage door, behind the porch glider, under the stairs or in the bushes, and we just kind of sit there until our mothers call us in for supper, or we simply grow tired of sitting there and all eventually come out of our hiding places. That “seek” part is quite important to the fun of the game. But we southerners like to use short cuts in our speech so we just dropped that from the name and simply called it hide.

I guess the reason I liked the game so much is because I was so good at it. I took pride in being able to find the best hiding places. Behind the bushes or in the closet-that was for amateurs. I would climb up onto the roof of the house where I had a bird’s eye view of all the other hiders and the seeker, yet no one would think to look up to see me. Or, if playing indoors one of my favorites was to lie across the bed underneath the pillows. The seeker enters the room and sees a bed made up with two thick pillows and finds all the amateurs under the bed and in the closet. Finally growing exasperated because they cannot find me, they would give up and I would be declared the King of Hide.

Well, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that’s the problem with having great hiding places-people learn about them and get to them before you can. Such was the case on a Sunday afternoon when we went to visit Jeannie-Kay and the brood. It didn’t take long before we kids began looking for something to do so we chose to play hide (and seek- if that makes you feel better).

One Potato, Two Potato…

It was a nice day, so I’m not sure why we chose to play inside, but we did. We counted potatoes to determine who would be “it” and as soon as the “seeker” began to count I ran off toward one of the bedrooms and my favorite under-the-pillow spot. But when I got there my sister had already beat me to it. Curses, beaten at my own game! So, as the counter was nearing the end of her count I realized I was running out of time. I had to act quickly. There were already three kids under the bed, but I figured if I went around to the side near the wall, then when the seeker looks under the bed I will be hidden by this army of siblings between me and the eyes of the seeker. “It just might work”, I thought to myself.

So I ran around the bed and slipped down between the bed and the wall and began sliding underneath.

Splish Splash

Now keep in mind this was in the early sixties and there were still many families, particularly poor families in rural America, who did not have indoor plumbing, or at least indoor facilities. Many families, Alfred and Jeannie-Kay’s for one, still had a privy out back. That’s the little house behind the big house. And, when you have 15 kids, it’s a foregone conclusion that somebody will be getting up during the night needing to use the bathroom. And if the bathroom happens to be out in the back yard, and it’s 25 degrees outside or raining, then you seek an alternative-hence the chamber pot. That’s the proper name for it. We called it a pee pot. Well, this is not something you set out on your coffee table when not being used, although it may well make for interesting conversation. The most logical place to keep a pee pot would be in the bathroom; but, then if you had a bathroom, you wouldn’t need a pee pot so it was usually kept inconspicuously, yet conveniently, under the bed.

You can see where I’m going with this. I don’t know how long it had been since the pee pot had been emptied, but I’m guessing, by the size of the soaked spot on the seat of my pants after I backed into it and turned it over, it was pretty close to full. Needless to say, the game was over at that point, as was our visit. It was a long ride back home with me sitting in the foot of the car and all the windows down. Whoever came up with that saying “look before you leap” must have hidden under the bed.

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