Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Halloween 1931--Part 2
...When I opened the basement door and lumbered down the steps into the crowd, a sudden respectful hush descended.
Everybody looked toward me, the latecomer. Into the silence one giggling flapper squealed, "Oh, look at that rag bag!"
Laughing and clapping followed. "Who is he?"
"What a get-up!"
"Must be a hobo from a freight train wanting some grub."
"Come on, buddy, we'll feed you."
Cookies and fruit punch on the table looked tempting. But I had no hole in the sack for a mouth. Anyway, I was the mystery guest who had to be dumb. Too many people knew my voice. No words. Only actions. Stifling giggles, I approached a few dainty, coy princesses and danced a little jig for them. The drop seat of the underwear bounced up and down and I whirled around to let my audience get the benefit of the sight. One of the lovely lassies looked close into my eye holes and said, "I don't know who you are but you sure do have droopy drawers!"
Mother and Daddy were standing with friends by the refreshment table. I bowed to them and wiggled my hips. I would have jigged a little more, but my shoes were not the dancing kind and my feet were beginning to hurt.
Mom laughed. "Who do you think he is, Henry?"
"Got no idea," Daddy answered, and turned back to get his drink and cookies.
I spoke to no one, made no sound, just roamed around and sniffed at well known friends trying to guess who I was. Everybody thought I was a He.
A hush. The pastor announced, "It's about time to take off your masks; they must all be off in three minutes."
I panicked, eased over toward the door and bolted out as fast as my weighted feet would allow. I reached home with clumps and limps.
Once inside the door, I jerked off my paper sack and burned it in the heating stove in the living room. Off came Daddy's shoes, and I set them precisely in their place on the back porch. His long-legged johns, folded neatly, landed in the dresser drawer. Rags and ropes plopped back in the big cloth bag. When the family all came home, I was studying at the kitchen table, trying to forget my aching feet.
Art and Mom were laughing. "Hey, Ruthie, you really missed it. You should have been there!"
I looked up with raised eyebrows. "Why? What happened?
"We don't know who that dumb guy was, but he must have come from somewhere else. He was wearing long-legged underwear, only it was big enough for a giant. Every time he blundered around in his shoes three sizes too big for him, his underwear drop seat hit the back of his knees. He was a riot."
I yawned. "Well, I'm tired. Too bad I missed it."
Dad ordered, "You kids get ready for bed. It's late. Hurry up and get the light out."
I dived under my covers, stuffed some in my mouth and giggled 'til the bed shook like a mini-earthquake.
The next morning, Sunday, before I was up, I heard Daddy shout, "Pearl, where's my clean underwear?"
"Oh, Henry, you know where it is. It's where it always is—in your dresser drawer."
"No, it ain't!"
I heard Mom pad to the bedroom from the kitchen. "A man can't ever find anything. I'll look. Well—it isn't here. Where could it be—" Another drawer opened. "Oh, my! Here it is in my drawer! Now how in the world did that happen? I never put it there."
"Oh, Pearl, you're just gettin' old and forgetful."
I crawled out of bed, headed to the kitchen for breakfast. Mom was stirring scrambled eggs in a big iron skillet. Her forehead was perplexed. I hugged her good morning. She hugged me back, looked me straight in the eye for fifteen seconds, pursed her mouth, nodded, chewed her lower lip to stop the smile--and didn't say a word.
-- Ruth Childers Seamands