My new mother had picked me up and put me in my new grandmother’s lap and said, “Here my dear, this little wiggle worm will find her way into your heart and inspire your retirement.” I had never heard the word “retirement.” I asked grandmother what it was and she said it happens when people get to be their own boss and have time to be inspired by wiggle worms. I liked that answer. She and I became fast friends. She often spoke about her mission in life. She constantly asked me what my mission was… her way of saying, “What are your doing?” I liked the idea of always being on a mission.
At the age of six, my life’s mission was to try and understand grownups. My sister and I had been adopted for about a year. I was not the brightest crayon in the box but grandmother said I was the most colorful. I thought about everything and I ask a lot of questions. Sometimes I confused about the answer to the questions. Little did I know at the time, but that was the problem.
My new grandmother had volunteered to help a friend of hers who had a general store and bait shop at a small lake. My father loved the idea and so it became a family weekend. There were cabins at the lake for us to stay in and even a playground for my sister and me.
We had been adopted together and she was 2 years younger than me. Grandmother reported for duty at the general store and Mother, my sister, and I unpacked and got the cabin ready. Daddy set out to rent a boat, a pole, a tackle, and everything but the fish (I think). Going fishing was not his long suit. I think the dog is the only one who ever caught a fish… that is another story.
All was fine until we went to get the bait. We approached the front of the store and Mother read the sign out loud, “Bait, Sandwiches, and Supplies.” That did not bother me until I found out what bait was. “You make sandwiches out of those little fish? I then made a face and said, “Bait sandwiches, yuk!” Everyone laughed. I did not understand grownups.
Then an older man came in the store. He was tall, white-haired, with a mustache he kept stroking on one side. He smiled when he saw my grandmother behind the counter. He gave her a wink, and said;
“I’m looking for something in ladies’ lingerie.” He grinned and stared at grandmother as if she were lunch. I really think I saw him lick his lip.
My grandmother (always the lady) stepped back and looked at him without even any hesitation or twinkle in her eye and said;
“You, dear sir, you are looking at something in lady’s lingerie…however, it is not sold here. If you did not or could not read the sign outside this is a general store with a bait shop. This is also a family-oriented facility. Now, (she pointed to the door) you son of…(she glanced down at me staring and listening to every word) a Siberian Sea Cook, get out of here. I do not have to serve you, sir.”
The man chuckled, stroked his mustache, turned, glanced back at Grandmother, then chuckled again and left the store. Grandmother was huffing and puffing. She patted her chest and then She had turned beat red. I was curious so I asked, “Is being the son of a cook better or worse than being a monkey’s uncle?” Grandmother looked down at me in amazement, “Oh, dear it is much worse, believe me.” I shrugged my shoulders and went outside to see what had happened to the son of the cook. For an inquisitive six-year-old, this was worth more study.
He had walked over to his cabin. Since all the grownups were busy I followed him. I felt sorry for him being the son of a cook. When I caught up to him I told him I was sorry he was the son of a cook. I also told him it was too bad he was not a monkey’s uncle…. Grandmother said it was better. He chuckled at my remarks and went inside his cabin. As I turned to head back to our cabin he brought some trash out and threw it into a big barrel. He did not say a word. After he went back inside his cabin; my curiosity got the best of me. I went to the barrel and opened the brown paper sack. I was amazed at my found treasure.
I spotted what I thought were balloons, there were several so I picked two of them, what fun. I stuffed them in my pocket and then skipped all the way back to the store. Later that evening I decided my sister and I could fill the balloons with water, make water balloons and throw them to make them splash. I thought I was a genius. Several of the guests were sitting around the big community campfire and relaxing. Some were getting ready to toast marshmallows. Grandmother had closed the store for the evening. Several family groups and our entire family were there.
My sister and I came skipping up with these two long, water-filled, condoms we called balloons. All the grownups jumped up, grabbed our balloons away from us, as our mother yanked us both over out of earshot range of the others. “Where did you get… your(she stammered).. balloons?” My mother asked in a somewhat pained voice. I did not know what was wrong but every grown-up was hysterical. Some were laughing, some were huffing and puffing in shock, some stared at me in silence.
I thought I had figured out the problem. I broke away from Mother and shouted to everyone, “The son of a cook has lots more… I’m sure he will share.”
Grandmother started laughing.
“I told you he was the son of a Siberian Sea Cook, and I was right. Now, let’s all look at this calmly and thank our lucky stars those water balloons did not land on one of us.” Everyone laughed.
I was very quiet the rest of the weekend because I still did not understand grownups at all. I did not go near the notion of filling a balloon with water again until my grandmother educated me. She explained to me that sometimes daddy’s use them to keep from getting their wives pregnant. That did not make sense to me. I decided I had not invented anything at all.. they were supposed to be water balloons. Then, I wondered how could throwing a water balloon keep anyone from having a baby? I wanted to ask more but she did not seem to want to talk about it. I knew one thing for sure it did not work on cats. I threw a water balloon on our cat and she still had kittens. I had learned that balloons are a complicated subject for adults… I had learned that much. I also realized my sister did not get into trouble for throwing her balloon. I guess they knew it was my idea. Tricia was 4 and very cute… She could get away with anything.
I had learned being the Son of a Siberian Sea Cook was worse than being a Monkey’s uncle. I had no idea what a Siberian Sea was. I wondered for several years what a Siberian Sea tasted like or where to find them and if you had to have special training to learn how to cook them. Then I wondered why they did not call them Siberian Sea Chefs. It was plain to see… my mission was just getting started. As I look back I think about how much fun I have had learning through each phase of my mission. One thing I am sure of the mission gets much easier if you learn to giggle every chance you get.Recommended1 recommendationPublished in