Sunday, February 7, 2010
…treating my baby sister, Sharon, to her first exotic spa treatment. Well, not exactly. I do remember my mom telling me the story, which will have to be close enough. No one else was there to dispute the story. My mom is no longer with us, and my sister was about 1 year old and that was about 58 years ago, so we will have to go with this version.
If Sharon was about one, that would make me about four or five, as I was either three or four years older depending upon which half of the year we are talking about. The fact that I possibly, perhaps, may have harbored some unresolved issues about being eliminated as the only child and relegated to the status of just the only boy, may have some slight bearing on the story, but I only choose to remember the “caring big brother versions” of all family tales….flaming marshmallows while camping will be another story..banana peels in the toilet will not.
I have four children so I know this next statement to be true. When your kids are too quiet, something is probably wrong. As my mom told it, she was doing laundry, ironing and such and noticed that I wasn’t hanging around getting underfoot, as apparently was my custom. This was early 50’s, small town, Oklahoma. It would have not been uncommon for me to leave the house early and disappear for the day. Not that bad things probably didn’t happen back in the day, but the public just didn’t hear about it much. This was before TV (another story). I could ride bikes with my buddies, play ball, dig in the ditch across the street (yet another story about snakes coming soon), play “Ollie Ollie Oxen Free” with my friends and as long as I came home as soon as the street light came on, I was good to go.
Anyway, none of those things were happening. I was in the house and my mom knew it. My sister was still in a crib, so she was in the house too. My mom slowly became aware of a soft “cooing” sound from the rear of the house. As she approached the master bedroom, she heard the “cooing” sound more distinctly as “oooooh and ahhhhh”. Apparently, knowing that I could come to terms with any sibling rivalry issues, by just showing the love to my sister, there I was mimicking what I thought I had seen my mom do….kind of.
I had found the large jar of Vaseline, but the wrong end of the baby. I had successfully plastered my sister’s head with about a half-jar of sticky petroleum jelly. Her eyes were totally glued shut. Her small amount of hair was matted with globs of glop. Should there be a hue and cry from readers regarding what a terrible thing this might have appeared to be for a small baby…I must point out that she was absolutely loving it.
I am sure that 58 years later, this experience is probably not on her Facebook page (nor mine). She is now a confirmed worldwide adventurist, hiking mountain trails in Peru, ocean sailing, whitewater kayaking, etc. I suspect that she is strangely comforted, when crawling on her stomach in the dark caves of Costa Rica, and her head and face become matted with exotic bat guano, she has odd, but warm recollections of those halcyon days in the crib having her head slathered in Petroleum Jelly. Perhaps only when buried in the mud baths of Calistoga, with only her lips protruding from the volcanic ooze just far enough to reach the straw and little sippy cup of ice water, does she vaguely recall a similar comforting experience, a long, long time ago. If she is strangely concerned, I plead innocent. If she smiles, I will take all the credit.
There is an earlier story of me, BS (before Sharon), plastering my bedroom window sills shut in a similar fashion, but not with petroleum jelly. Sharon is lucky I matured into a more socially acceptable plaster artist.