As a young lad I was full of what my elders described as, spunk. As far as I can tell it meant I was a little bastard. I regularly praise my mother for doing such a fine job of raising me, when to all appearances I was little more than a savage.
When I was about six or seven My mother took us to spend some time with my Grandmother and her only companion, my swiftly aging Great-Grandmother. It was a time of agony for me. They lived in an ancient suburb of Kansas City that was only about a block from what seemed like downtown. Keep in mind I was a country boy and as far as I was concerned, two gas stations on the same corner equated to urban sprawl. This was a suburb waiting to die. It was full of retirees and from what I was told, had once been a nice place to live. There were no other children my age. There were no other children at all. I was alone, save my mother, grandmother and the frail old woman we all called Momma.
They had a T.V. but I wasn't allowed to "fiddle with it". The small suitcase I had brought contained only a few of the precious toys I needed to occupy my hyperactive mind. Most days I was forced to stand mute witness to discussions about the pros and cons of various Tupperware products.
On one shiny day my mother and grandmother left the house to go visit old friends, believing that I may cause trouble if allowed to accompany them, they wisely left me in the charge of my Great-Grandmother.
Momma took pity on me. She saw that I was growing increasingly bored and offered to set up the sprinkler in the front yard, so that I may run back and forth and delight in my pre-pubescent exuberance. Unfortunately I had no swim trunks. In her wisdom Momma decided that my Underoos shorts were sufficiently colored so as not to appear to be underwear, but rather some sort of superhero swim garment.
When she released me into the front yard I came alive. I was awash in a world of imagination. A piece of pine bark, ripped from a tree in the front yard became my knife and I was transformed into Tarzan, King of the Jungle!
I began to run the length of the yard, attacking any perceived enemy with my crudely fashioned pine bark dagger. I climbed trees, threw rocks and bellowed my Tarzan Jungle Yell so that all would fear my coming and my prey would shiver in fear. in short I went nuts. I went from sweet little boy to holy terror in about four minutes flat.
Momma wasn't having any of it. Having a little boy run through the sprinklers in his underwear was one thing, having him causing a "ruckus" was quite another thing altogether. She attempted to corral me into the house. I was having nothing of it. I had been cooped up for days and finally escaped from the tyranny of a living room constantly playing reruns of "Dallas". Besides, the authority figure of my mother was no where to be found. This kind old women couldn't possibly capture me.
In a truly Keystone sort of montage she did chase me around the house several times. I was easily eluding her, she could barely even run! As I turned the corner, I looked over my shoulder to see where the fragile old broad was and to revel in the really clever way I was outsmarting her. All of the sudden she was all over me. In her conniving old person way, she had simply stopped running and waited for me to come to her. I was wet and slippery and I attempted to wiggle out of her grasp. She grabbed me by the hair and proceeded to lay into me with her only weapon, a fly swatter.
Don't laugh, those things sting. She gave me the beating of my life, all the time mumbling under her breath about such ungrandmotherly topics as how I was a "little shit". I was positively covered in welts. I learned a powerful lesson that day.
Youth and skill are no match for old age and treachery
Later, when I was older I found that I felt bad about that day. It had been very funny for a long time. When I told my mother about the incident she was amused and told me that Momma had done practically the same thing to her when she was young. Unfortunately, that was the last time I ever saw Momma. She died a couple of years later. I didn't get to know her that well. I don't think many people get to spend a lot of quality time with their Great-Grandparents. I will always remember her as a shriveled old women, frustrated with the activities of a youth; and I will never forget that fly swatter.