**This is a continuation from yesterday’s post (for Part I, read “Slutty one and slutty two”).
So there I was. Kidnapped by my mother, held against my will, and driven to Kansas. And to think, all these years of my life my mom kept claiming she loved me more than anything. That I was the best thing that ever happened to her. That she would do anything for me. So she throws my 10-year-old ass into a 70’s Disco Van and takes me halfway across the country to visit her relatives. Have we ever been to Hawaii? No. Have we ever been to Tahiti? No. But damn! We’ve been to Kansas. Oh well, I’m pretty much stuck, so let’s see what this place has to offer.
I had known my cousin Stephanie for all of 15 seconds when I knew that she was trouble. She had walked outside for the introductions and proceeded to give me the evil eye right away. I was doing my best to return the stare when my aunt Juanita invited us into the house. It was a one-story house with wood paneling on the walls. It was rustic and old in a cozy kind of way. It really made you feel at home. Plus, my aunt’s house had two very important things the van didn’t: A TV and a bathroom. After two days cooped up in the Disco Van with my trampy cousins, Slutty One and Slutty Two, this house was luxurious. I could easily envision myself living here forever! I had big plans to make that television mine. I could see Star Trek and Wonder Woman in my future; my only problem was going to be my uncle Charlie, who seemed to be in control of the magic box. “I can break him,” I thought. I will find a way.
It took about two days and one punch to the face (mine) before Stephanie and I finally became friends. I would love to tell you that it was an epic fight and we ended up causing such a family rift that we ended up having to go home early, but that would be a lie. We were sitting on the couch together when she asked me how hard I could throw a punch.
“Pretty hard,” I said, fairly confident that I could do some sort of damage.
“Hit me,” She said.
Um…okay. So I did. I punched her in the arm, as hard as I could.
Now it was Stephanie’s turn. In retrospect, I probably should have had my attorney go over the rules before I decided to engage. Because Stephanie didn’t tell me it was coming. And Stephanie didn’t go for the arm. She went for the face.
“OOOOUUCH!!!!” I said as I lunged for her. Before impact I could feel my mother’s arms grab me and pull me away from my cousin.
“BUT SHE HIT ME!” I pleaded.
“Aunt Nancy (that was my mother’s name), she hit me first.”
That, my friends, was how I learned to fight dirty. Stephanie was Yoda and I was Luke. I had to respect her. And the next time someone tells me to hit them…I go for the face.
It wasn’t long before Stephanie showed me the wonders of Kansas. Did you know if you catch fire flies and pull the butts off them you can stick them directly to your body, and they will stay lit for a little while? Cruel, but sparkly. We created the most beautiful firefly butt jewelry you have ever seen. Necklaces, rings, and bracelets. We were fashion icons.
We were in Kansas over July 4th and Stephanie wanted to make sure we did it right.
“Wait till I take you to the fireworks stand,” she boasted.
“You have fireworks here?”
“Yea, don’t you?” She looked at me like I had come from another planet.
“We have snakes and sparklers,” I countered, as she shook her head in shame.
“See how much money you can get from your mom, and I’ll show you show you some REAL fireworks. ”
She was right. It was a pyromaniac’s wet dream. They had Roman Candles, Crackling Cactus, Cricket’s, Mad Dogs, Piccolo Pete’s, Infernos, Mayan Gold, En Fuegos and much much more. We spent every single dollar we had pinched off of our parents.
Proud of our new purchases, we couldn’t wait to show them off once we got home. We showed them everything we bought. Almost everything. One tiny little item we kept for ourselves, and swore each other to secrecy. This was by far the BEST THING EVER. It was a round tin, so small it fit in the palm of your hand, and inside the tin were tiny little explosives. These explosives were specifically designed to go into cigarettes and cigars. And this was 1980. EVERYBODY smoked. But we had to wait. It was important to strike at the right time. First the entrée, then the dessert.
So later that night we pulled all the chairs we could find out into the street and set off all the fire works. It was amazing!!! I felt such a rush. I couldn’t wait to light something else on fire.
“Give me another Roman candle quick! I’m going through withdrawals here!”
We had food, fireworks, and plenty of mosquito bites to remind us of the night’s festivities. We went to bed with smiles on our faces.
The next day was our last day in Kansas so the whole family got together. I’ve only skimmed the surface of my Kansas family members so far in the story but there are plenty more. So off to yet another relative’s house for what was to be the most embarrassing meal of my mother’s life. This house was much bigger than my aunt Juanita’s. It fit the whole family. There must have been about 25 of us. Lots of adults, and a few kids, with the now inseparable team of Stacy and Stephanie. Mischief, Incorporated. Ready to pull off the greatest prank ever.
Stephanie and I split up our stash and took turns planting our little surprises in every spare pack of smokes lying around the house. Keep in mind, we were Mischief, Inc., not a couple of rookies. We had to time it perfectly so that we could booby-trap every pack in the house before the first explosion went off. Luckily, this was when cigarettes came in packs, not flip top boxes. So we pulled the first couple of cigarettes out, loaded them with the mini explosive, and placed them in the middle of the pack. It took a while and a lot of patience, but we got them all. We figured that unless Uncle Eugene went on a chain-smoking bender, we should have the timing down pat. Little did we know…
So then it was time for dinner. The spread was beautiful. Everyone contributed by bringing a dish. There was a giant turkey, an enormous ham, a roast beef as big as a Cadillac, mashed potatoes, yams, and so on, and so on. We were all coming into one room and getting ready for dinner when it happened. My mom was standing right next to this enormous spread of delicious food when she lit the first “marked” cigarette.
BOOM! Tobacco went flying. Tobacco in the mashed potatoes. Tobacco on the turkey. Tobacco everywhere. No one had even had one bite of the food yet and it was all covered in tobacco. My Uncle Eugene stared in shock, then started laughing. He lit up a smoke of his own, and BOOM! He wasn’t laughing anymore.
After my mom recovered from the initial shock she looked right at me with the death glare that only she could give.
I was busted, and a little offended that she automatically went straight for me. What about the slut twins? But she knew her daughter. The whole enchilada was my brainchild. It was my idea to buy the cigarette explosives and load the smokes.
“What the Hell?” my aunt Juanita exclaimed, tobacco peppering her face.
“Everyone! Stop. Smoking. Your. Cigarettes!” my mother yelled.
“Outside. Now,” my mother said, ice in her tone.
I was in soooooo much trouble. We stepped outside and I hung my head waiting for whatever may come my way.
“I am so embarrassed right now. We come all the way here to visit family and this is what you do? I’m so ashamed of you. I taught you better than this. I want you to stay outside and think about what you’ve done. You just ruined a very nice dinner. Not just for me but for everyone inside that house.”
Oh my God, she did it. The only way to hurt me, I had shamed my mom. You could spank me, you could ground me, but nothing hurt more than the look on her face when I had disappointed her. I sat outside until she came back out and got me, almost an hour later.
“Are you coming back in?”
I shook my head no.
“Please come back inside and eat some food… I think the potato salad is safe.”
“I’m so sorry mom,” I gushed, with tears in my eyes. Real tears, not the fake ones I normally use to get out of shit.
“How many other packs have exploding cigarettes in them?”
“…All of them.”
My mother sighed, and seemed to study the sky for a moment. “You have to go back inside, apologize, and help find all the exploding cigarettes so that this doesn’t happen again. Understand?”
“Yes, mom. I’m so sorry.”
“I heard you, Stacy. What you did was not funny,” she said… “But it was inventive.”
That one came from inside the house. I think only my cousin Dave was cursing at this point. Everyone else was laughing. As my mother walked back into the house, I’m pretty sure that she was laughing as well.
I went back inside, apologized for my actions, and found what was left of the exploding cigarettes. I never gave up my accomplice. I spent my last night at my aunt Juanita’s house watching Charlie’s TV. I was going to actually miss Kansas. Dreading the next day’s drive in the Disco Van with the slut twins, I hung with Stephanie and we did what girls do best. We giggled and laughed well into the night and promised to be best friends forever. I was already looking forward to my next trip back. It has been 29 years since I’ve seen Stephanie.
I wonder if she’s still got that hard right hook…?
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