Hoo boy, this has not been the best of weeks for me. I’ve had to spend money I do not have; I have appointments I’d rather not keep, places to go to that I’d rather avoid, and now, a sick child to mother – just when I feel like being mothered a bit my own self.
Sarah Jane woke up hurting all over. It’s not the flu. I won’t allow that within these walls (wishful and hopeful thinking). It’s just a virus, though we aren’t entirely sure what type. Test results will come back Saturday. It’s nothing horribly serious ~ but when the cub is sick, a hangnail can seem serious.
I would like very much to run away; to pack a little bag with some clean undies and a couple of leftover Halloween candy bars and just go – destination unknown. If this didn’t mean leaving Ed and SJ behind, I wouldn’t be writing right now … more than likely I’d be driving and thinking about how cruel the world can be sometimes.
The thing is … I’ve tried it ~ running away ~ and it didn’t do me much darned good at all.
Once upon a time, back around 1965, a rather young haglet sat scheming on the bed in her tiny room. This young lady had way too much imagination for a little child to handle. She wasn’t sure yet what was lacking in her life, but she did know she wanted to become famous.
She had been to the great city beyond the harbor with her parents and schoolmates, and she decided that she could find a big airport in such a place. She would fly off to … anywhere … where she could become the belle of the ball, the cat’s meow, the crème of the crop, the hag of all hagdom.
And so the young, starry-eyed child broke into her piggy bank and gathered up all of the coins she could fit into a sock. She began to plan her getaway … but decided to drag someone along with her. The prospect of going on such an adventure all alone made the hair on her neck stand up and tingle. She had never been alone.
Her plan was simple. She invited Nettie ~ convincing her that they might see Hollywood, or London, or any of the other places where famous people were ‘made.’
“But how will we become famous?” asked Nettie.
“I don’t know, it’ll just happen … but it’s not going to happen here
,” said the haglet with great determination.
The two girls were part of a team of tap dancers and once a week they took their lessons together in a rather seedy part of town. Since the studio was located directly in front of a bus stop, they were allowed to take the bus from home to get there each week – and were picked up (after dark) to come home.
The 'run away plan' involved boarding the bus as usual on tap dancing day, then taking a detour and getting on with their big adventure. They wouldn’t even be missed for at least an hour; a great head start!
They pooled their money and were clever enough to bring chewing gum and a candy bar. Each girl, as part of the scheme, had secretly made a sandwich and tucked it neatly into the small zippered bag next to their tap shoes. And on that day, the bus pulled up and off they went.
They took the bus clear to the ferry terminal, where they knew they could crossover into the great city
– but for some reason, they decided to explore their little island a bit more before leaving it. Another bus took them all the way to Tottenville, a small town far, far away (about twelve miles) from their homes on the north shore.
The two little girls had crossed the island. They felt so brave, so clever … so CHILLY. They hadn’t thought about sundown and weather … they were ill-prepared for the November night.
They wandered through the streets of this old and forgotten town, admiring the little shop windows and the newness of the sights around them. They walked through a park, enjoyed their sandwiches and talked about what they would do with all the money they would make when they achieved their fame.
It was during this chat when Nettie dropped the bomb.
“I’ll bet my father has allll his friends out looking for us by now!” she snickered with her mouth full of sandwich.
“Ha ha … yeah … mine too,” the haglet laughed back, “This is so cool!”
“Yeah, but my father’s friends are everywhere
… I wonder if we should start keeping an eye out for them,” she said, looking over her shoulder.
“Why? Do you really think they’re going to travel all the way out here to look? Don’t be silly… we could stay here for a month and they wouldn’t think to look here,” said the haglet, quite smugly.
“Well we need to look out for cop cars,” said Nettie.
“Cop cars? Why? They won’t call the cops
. We didn’t do anything wrong,” said the haglet.
“Yeah but my dad’s a sargeant in the 1-2 -0 (precinct),” revealed Nettie.
“A COP?” thought the haglet to herself. This was the last thing she expected to hear!
And this was the first time in her very short life that the haglet wanted to strangle someone. But she refrained, and the two picked up their bags and made for the streets.
The night fell quickly ~ quicker in fact, than either of them had ever recalled. They walked, they ran, they snuck about behind trees and shrubs … made their way back to the bus stop and prayed that it was headed for the ferry terminal. Every time they spotted a police cruiser, they ducked out of sight.
The haglet began to get mighty homesick. She thought she was the only one who felt this way until Nettie began to cry.
“This was so stupid,” sobbed Nettie.
“I guess,” the haglet agreed, lowering her head, “I just thought … never mind.”
“I know, me too,” said Nettie.
And the girls made their way once again to the terminal where they jumped on yet another bus, hoping it would head them toward home.
Meanwhile, back at the homesteads … two mothers cried burning tears and thought the worst. When the haglet mom arrived to the dance studio only to have the instructor inform her the girls had never showed up, police were called and an APB (All Points Bulletin) was issued. Two fathers frantically roamed the streets in their cars and on foot, in search of the missing children. Sisters and brothers (except the SS*, I’m sure) who would otherwise argue with and tease their younger siblings, were now distraught and afraid.
Snow began to fall as the girls got off the bus at an unknown intersection (Victory Boulevard and Clove Road) … and they finally caved in and called home. They flipped a coin to see which one had to actually place the call. The haglet lost.
“Um, mommy?” said the haglet, trying to maintain whatever cool she had left in her.
“Nope. It’s SS and YOU ARE IN BIG
TROUBLE! HA HA HA …” said the SS of the haglet.
Scrambling sounds could be heard through the line and suddenly the soothing voice of mother was heard …
“Haglet … where ARE you? Are you all right? Oh my GOD” sobbed the mother.
“Mommy, I’m sorry. We’re okay but we’re cold and tired and hungry … can you come get us?” the haglet spoke while choking on crow.
“Read the street signs to me. I’ll be there in a flash … and DON’T MOVE,” said the mother.
It seemed like just seconds till the car pulled up … the familiar Impala with the red-checkered blanket tossed over the seat back. The SS was in the front seat ~ huge grin on her face and hiding a laugh. The girls took the back seat and were ‘spoken to’ all the way home.
Nettie’s mother was at the haglet house when they arrived and they left without much chit-chat. Inside the house, (God it felt so warm and looked so cozy and inviting), hell broke loose.
“Your FATHER is in the city! He’s walking around Battery Park in the snow looking for you!” cried the mother as she removed haglet’s windbreaker and hugged her tightly. “We found a piece of paper in your room with a story about a girl who became famous in Battery Park!” screeched the mother while she clung to the young girl.
“I TOLD you they were okay… I TOLD you she did it on purpose!” chanted the SS as she took the stairs to her room.
“Mom I’m s o r r y … I’m SOOO sorry,” cried the little, not-very-famous haglet.
The rest of that night was a horror for the little one. Father came home in a police car, and neighbors peered out of their windows ~ a common site in a tight knit ‘hood.
There was shouting and embarrassment … there were new rules to follow, there were many new restrictions set into place. There was a very late supper, and then there was a very angry “Now go to bed.”
So the haglet lay in her cozy, warm bed … staring out between the Venetian blinds and recalling her adventure; a mix of excitement, shame and guilt. “Poor daddy,” she thought to herself, “Poor Mommy.”
And the distant foghorns of the ferry that led to the great city lulled her off to sleep.“You have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as you become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity”
(Thomas Wolfe)*SS – (Special Sister) refers to haglet’s older sister who was hell bent to try to destroy any semblance of happiness or contentment a young girl could know.