those were the days: "knives etc." (part 1 & 2)



parents usually find these kinds of things out fifteen years after they've taken place. some parents encourage these kinds of family moved into our house in 1980, almost a full year before the autumn when my body landed on the ground. the house was in the western frontier of the valley...not yet developed, open fields with lizards to catch and dirt clods to be thrown. land.

even kids know what land is for. owning."get off our property!" my brother threatened the next-door-neighbors (who were usually their best playmates)."the circle is ours!" they screeched back.the "circle" is the lawn in the middle of the culdesac where both homes sit next to each other.
my brothers knew how to settle this heated argument. they returned with a kitchen knife--butter knife or steak knife, nobody remembers. they snaked their weapons through the air with curled lips, repeating their initial warning, "get off our property!"
brothers love telling this kind of story--barely able to tell it for all the laughing going on. it is a funny story. and we usually end up asking, "where was mom?"
out of seven kids, four of us owned impressive knife collections--they were "rambo" knives. i was at least seven-years-old when i had my first knife. we earned them. most kids get paid to do chores around the house. if there was ever a day off at school, we were forced to dad's tool warehouse to sweep floors that would never be cleared of dust and to file papers that were added to our pile quicker than we actually file them. at the end of our 8-hour workday (keep in mind we were seven years old when we started) we could choose how we would be reimbursed: $2 or a knife. we usually chose a knife. what kid wouldn't?
perhaps we could gain more property with our knives.

when no one was looking, we spent our time examining all the knives that could potentially have been ours at the end of the day of our working-with-dad day. sometimes we wasted a good half an hour picking them up individually, and telling each other what made each knife irresistably awesome.
dad was usually up front in his office listening to talk radio. hopefully he was on the phone with a customer, which would require more of his attention and would make more noise. the last thing we wanted was to get caught slacking from our endless sweeping of the concrete warehouse floor.we should have had a plan. if we were to get caught drooling over the knives rather than dutifully working, what were we to do?i, unfortunately, relied on instinct.
my dad's tall, gray-haired partner, Hutch, stealthly turned down the knife isle. there was no warning footsteps, no rustling of papers, no nothing. knives in hands, what were we to do? there was going to be eternal sweeping for us. so i did the most reasonable thing i could come up with.
i quickly slid my knife back onto the shelf, and to shield my slower younger brother from getting caught, i began to walk toward hutch like a robot. with blade hands, slicing through the air. knees mechanically lifting one after the other. and chanting, "hachacha-cha-cha, cha." i made it up. improvisation. genius.we didn't get in trouble.
i can't remember what happened after that. but i've always wondered what in the crap Hutch thought i was doing. "what is this strange little girl doing?"like i said. we didn't get in trouble. mission accomplished.we went home with our new knives.


Dianne said...

The part that is important to the creation of these stories is that mom not knowing made it possible for it to happen. I was probably cleaning the bathrooms.

Dee said...

I'm laughing so hard at the hachachachacha, ahahahaaa!!! I loved reading this! So funny!!! Hahaha! Awesome. I love it!

ashsan said...

Ann, this is gorgeously written. I want more creative non-fiction from your good pen!