This is a story about my sister Tracey. Tracey, for the unitiated, was my closest sister growing up and our exploits could fill a book. Maybe two. She is quick to anger and can hold a grudge like only an Irishman. She is also the one person you want having your back. Seriously, she will cut a bitch. For real.
This story, like so many, begins on Sheridan Street.
Tracey was probably about 5, making me 4. Our house had not yet devolved into a total circus. Mom was busy with 5 kids and a home to run. Dad worked 2 jobs, full-time as a mechanic for the city and part-time at the local gas station. He was, of course, responsible for any maintenace issues that would crop up in an older home.
On this particular day, Dad was trying to fix the toilet. The only toilet. In a house full of kids. Yeah, not fun. Dad had a great sense of humor, most of the time. When irritated and frustrated, not so much. So after many hours of trying to fix the problem, he was in no mood for children or their questions.
Picture a small bathroom. Just big enough to house a tub and toilet along one wall and a double vanity directly across. Now imagine, Jim. Big Jim. The giant of my youth. Cramming himself into the corner trying to figure out what was clogging up the works. Yeah, not a happy camper.
At one point, late in the day, Tracey and her constant companion (that’s me) sauntered, oops, walked into the bathroom to check on Dad and give encouragement. There she stood, tiny little Tracey with her auburn and brown hair, looking at her father – her sweaty and tired and frustrated father.
What does this, his middle child say to him, what words of love and encouragement does this child seek to impart to her father.
“Maybe it’s an apple.” An Apple. Tracey had flushed her apple down the toilet!
At four I don’t remember his immediate reaction but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the version he used later in his multiple retellings – his Irish eyes shining with delight, as he polished and embellished this story into family lore.
Stay tuned for Part 2, wherein Jim exacts his revenge.