Thursday, June 2, 2016

You. Are. So. Gross.

               Visiting relatives always sparks memories and you spend much of your time reminiscing, mostly about embarrassing events.  Now, I would never air my siblings’ dirty laundry but as you have come to know, I will air mine like a reality star hoping for their own spin-off.

                In 1979, we had returned to Northeast Louisiana, settling into an old plantation home situated behind the post office, a block from Sonic, in the bustling metropolis of Tallulah, Louisiana, which was the first US city to offer shoppers an indoor shopping mall, Bloom’s Arcade, built in 1925.

                This particular house was built long before indoor plumbing was even a glimmer of a hope in anyone’s mind in a small Southern town; therefore the bathrooms were located in areas not previously utilized for daily ablutions.  Hence, the master bathroom was an enclosed part of what had previously been a wrap-around porch, with an additional half bath near the kitchen.  The upstairs lavatory was directly at the top of the stairs.  To give you a more vivid picture and place you right in the episode, the toilet was situated directly facing the door within full view of all stair travelers.

                On this particular day, I had exhausted myself with manual labor and farming (full disclosure: making my bed and raking leaves) and retired to the bathroom with the latest tome in my favorite series about an 11 year-old detective, Encyclopedia Brown.  As my sister was attending an ironically named slumber party, I felt completely comfortable leaving the door open due to the ridiculously warm weather often found across the South in the fall.

                Having been trained through example by The Dad, I was settling in for a relaxing, lengthy session when I heard footsteps on the stairs and girls’ voices.  I froze.  What else can you do when you are seated with the door open and not remotely within reach?

                My sister and her friend get to the top of the stairs, see me and stop to stare, horrified.  My sister, never at a loss for words, stated matter-of-factly, “You.  Are.  So.  Gross.”  I could do nothing but hide my face in shame.  Instead of walking away, my sister turned to her friend and said, “See?  I told you.  He’s so stupid.”  Still staring in disgust, she yelled, “Mother!  Dusty is so gross!”

                My mother walked to the bottom of the stairs and asked what had happened.  My sister, still looking at me, now with a mixture of condescension and revulsion, like Alexis looked at Krystle on Dynasty, responded, “He’s pooping!  With the door open!  Reading a book!  With the door open!”

                I stated my case, pleadingly, “I can’t shut the door.  I can’t reach it.  Make her go away!”

                My mother started up the stairs and asked my sister, “Why are you standing there?  Shut the door or go to your room.  Actually, do both and leave him alone.”

                My sister huffed in frustration and departed with the scathing indictment, “You.  Are.  SO.  Gross.”  Her friend looked traumatized, which is understandable.

With the humiliation, you would think I would have quickly dethroned to shut the door but you’d be wrong.  I felt I had earned my spot with the poor treatment and I remained ensconced until my leg fell asleep. 
I spent the next year and a half unable to look my sister’s friend in the eye, until we moved to Oklahoma, not only from this but from an additional embarrassing moment. 

Do you remember Big Wheels/Hot Cycles from the 70s and 80s?  You know those plastic tricycles with the big wheel in front, but low-riding like a gangsta?  My little brother had one back when we lived in the previously mentioned house.  Please note our neighborhood had, at the time, short hedges lining the sidewalk. 

Like members of the royal family, my sister enjoyed being outdoors but not necessarily under her own exertion.  Deciding she desired to traverse the perimeter of the yard but lacking the inclination to actually pedal the Big Wheel herself, she directed me to serve as the horse to her molded plastic carriage; her team of Clydesdales if you will.  Her idea included a jump rope fastened to the handle bars and looped around my waist.

To give you pertinent information into the situation, you must understand I was in 4th grade, age 9, measuring just a notch above five feet.  My sister was in 6th grade and measured 5’7”.  She was taller than my mother and almost as intimidating as my father.  When she said jump I instantly complied, not waiting to ask how high or how far; hoping against hope I would meet her unspoken expectations.

Cut to me pulling Princess Shontyl down the sidewalk like one of those carriages in Central Park if they were low riders and the horses wore husky-sized Tuffskins.  As we were making our way in front of the house, a car slowed down and before I knew what was happening, my sister leapt from her vessel into the hedge to hide, leaving me to stand on the sidewalk pulling an empty Big Wheel behind me.  As the car passed, I realized it was my sister’s friend (who bore witness to the previous bathroom-related shame) who was in the back seat staring out the window. 

Her look informed me she had just crossed over into the same territory as my sister, thinking I was indeed So. Gross.

A single tear slid down my cheek.   
Not really, but I sure was shamed, y'all. 


  1. It's nice to know that you emulated your dad in the best possible way. He must be a great guy.

  2. it's nice to see that some people can still write like Faulkner or Hemingway. I felt like I was there with you!! or maybe it's a Southern thang!!!

  3. Ain't no pain like stupid teen age girl embarrassment! As my momma always says "everybody poops!"