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The Lake, My Mom, And The Sears Dressing Room
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The Lake, My Mom, And The Sears Dressing Room
Written out of appreciation for my mom and her patience with her children.
A simple girl from the midwest who likes to read and write.
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL ADDRESS
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (1)
My Big Sister And The Fly (Short Stories) A silly story about a fat fly. [639 words] [Comedy]
The Lake, My Mom, And The Sears Dressing Room
When I was in grade school, somewhere around the third grade, my parents bought some property in Southern Missouri and built a weekend cabin. We referred to this property as “The Lake” since it included the use of a common lake. When I was nine or ten, this location was spectacular, and life didn’t seem to get any better when we took the two hour trip for a weekend get-away. In reality, it was a small lake with a green-mudded shore. We had to walk across our front lot, across the black-top strip of road, and down past our neighbors’ persimmon tree to get to the boat dock. The kind neighbors generously allowed us to set off from their lake-side property when we took the john boat out to the middle of the water to swim.
Going down to The Lake spawned countless adventures and kept my family busy on weekends for quite a few years. The building of the house itself was most of our time spent. My industrious father, mother, and four older brothers did all the work themselves. As a young girl trying to avoid getting yelled at, I learned the proper way to swing a hammer.
After we built the small 2 bedroom house at the Lake, my mother set her sights on learning how to sail. My mother, though not complicated, is a woman whom I still haven’t figured out. Her basic bio is typical, however: she grew up during the depression, married her high school sweetheart, raised six troublesome kids during the tumulus sixties and seventies, is an efficient housewife, and is the most stubborn person I know.
Given my parent’s humble upbringing, the purchase of a lake property and sailboat might sound swanky. But, believe me, it wasn’t. We bought the four-person vessel at Sears and mom took a workshop at a local college to learn the basics of sailing.
When it came time to take the sailboat to the Lake, we strapped it to the top of our Chevy and we were on our way. The bright orange craft was christened “Dan Patch”. The color was quite like the bright orange of the mold-riddled Coast Guard-approved life preservers mom insisted my sister and I wear. Mary and I hated those things. I can still feel the strangulation of that orange foam pillow around my neck. We quenched the water as we suffered through those life jackets. The sun beat down so steadily - constantly warming the bright orange surfaces that surrounded me. The breeze that would send us over the shimmering water carried along the smells of summer.
With all these wonderful images that remain in my mind, what I remember most vividly about sailing The Lake is the mud. Lots of mud. Special mud. Green mud. Thick, green, ooze between my toes mud. When you are nine, this kind of mud is tolerable, but I still had my limits.
Getting the boat ready to sail was a ritual for my mother. And, as always, she did all the work. Thirteen year-old Bratly 1 and nine year-old Bratly 2 sat inside the orange boat breathing moldy life jackets and whining about it all. After she had set all the gear up (to this day I can’t adequately describe the necessary steps taken due to my state of spoiled-hood), mom would be ready to push off- sending the boat off the shore and into the patient waters of the small community lake. She was, of course, the only person in the boat who was willing to push off. Mary and I were repulsed by the mud. As mom flung her bare feet over the side of the boat from the green marsh, she was breathing hard. Instead of memories of how mom unfolded the sail and attached it to the mast in her attempt to achieve a personal goal, what I remember most is that she was barefoot.
Barefoot... hmm. Barefoot with the green mud. I can’t keep it to myself any longer: it was gross.
There are two things a kid can’t look at for too long. One is the sun. The other is their mom’s feet. You just can’t understand how a toenail gets to be like that. My sister and I would sit paralyzed by the fear and confusion of those feet.
“Push down the rudder!,” mother would bellow from her perch. Mary could hardly move, strangled by her orange preserver, in the horror that she might brush up against those feet.
It wasn’t long before Mary and I had to deal with this entity. In our effort to overcome the reality we faced with each sailing expedition, we found comfort in attaching a name to this phenomenon. My mother’s green mud caked feet were christened just as the boat: Mishymoshy.
Our summer trips to the lake included many adventures along with sailing but were soon to come to a close. As we returned to school, weekend trips to The Lake slowly faded until the next summer.
As the fall breezes came, we saw less and less of the mishymoshy feet. But to my older sister, whose memory was stronger than mine, mishymoshy was always around and good for a joke about poor old mom.
One October Saturday afternoon mom dragged us to the mall in hopes of finding a dress for a dinner she and dad were to attend. With Bratly 1 and Bratly 2 along for the day, mom’s patience had been tested by the time the Chevy parked in the Sears Lot.
As mom tried her best to find a suitable dress, Mary and I did the usual hide-and-seek between the clothes racks. She picked her quota of three dresses to try on and took Mary and me begrudgingly to the dressing rooms. Well, at least the dressing rooms had those cool three-way mirrors. They were good for another 10 minutes of entertainment. Plus, at nine years old, I was partial to climbing on my belly under the empty dressing room partitions, pretending I was on a secret mission for the Marines.
As mom disrobed, my sister couldn’t help but notice from her place by the three-way mirrors that mom had taken off her shoes. Well, after a hard day of being lugged around ladies’ clothing departments at the mall, Mary was ready for some fun.
My sister thought for sure I would remember the feet thing from the summer. Much to my mother’s distress, I needed Mary’s assistance.
“Shelley, what kind of feet does mom got?,” she prompted.
She assumed I would catch right on. Unfortunately, I was in the heated passion of my military operation, crawling on my belly half way to the enemy’s camp. I saw my sister’s attempt to tease mom as nothing more than and annoying interruption to my mission.
“I don’t know” I responded, hoping acknowledgment to her question would be enough to get her to stop talking to me. Of course, it wasn’t. She pressed on in her attempt to trigger my summer memories.
“Come on... what kind of feet does mom got?”
I knew now I must deal with her questioning. I thought to myself. “Big?”
Hmmm. I thought. What else could describe mom’s feet? “Stinky?”
“Nope. Come on, Shelley, what kind of feet does MOM got?” She hoped with proper annunciation that I would recall the days of mishymoshy.
Still, I remained clueless. Mom stepped into her second dress. I could now hear the sounds of other dressing room doors opening and closing. What the other women in the room were thinking of my poor mother, I can only imagine.
Trying hard to satisfy my sisters persistence, I offered, “Ugly, hairy, pruney?”
“Will you two SHUT UP!” my mother finally insisted.
Mary giggled. Finally, I gave up my marine mission and caught on to what she was up to. Embarrassing mom was much more fun than my solitary game.
I don’t remember if I ever guessed the magic phrase in Sears that day. But even now my mom cringes when she has to take off her shoes in a department store dressing room.
|READER'S REVIEWS (3)
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"this is great, you're an excellent writer! i love the part that talks about kids not being able to look at their mother's feet... made me laugh - how right you are!" -- rae.
"You have real talent. Your dialogue moves well, and you have a good feel for prose rhythms. You also have a good writer's ability to find the one item in a scene that describes the scene as well as how you feel (or want the reader to feel) about it. "past our neighbor's persimmon tree", for example. You could have said a lot more, but you didn't need to. Good job. The only criticism might be of a couple of sentences that are a little awkward. "The building of the house itself was most of our time spent", for example. All in all, good work. I'm impressed." -- Glenn DeWeese, Tulsa, OK.
"Bravo! Fear of failure conquered, she is published. You forgot about knocking the boat prior to turning it over to chase away the snakes who liked the cool shade underneath but good writing, nonetheless. (You can swaing a hammer? Ha!) Keep on Truckin' Shell " -- Bro #1, Alton, Il.
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© 2003 Ariana Linkletter
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