Wednesday, December 15, 2010

up on the housetop in the sandbox

Living in Arizona in my 3rd to 8th year, I had a sandbox in my backyard. Chucky, Darrin, and sometimes Mark would come over and play. Our favorite thing was building tunnels. This was before the house behind us got a big sand pile and we played on that.
Our next-door neighbor was Mrs. Bean. On the other side were the Harkeys who had a big red dog named Red. Penny Harkey would babysit sometimes and she had a T-bird. I think Mrs. Bean had a Chevy Nova.
We tried to be good neighbors. This meant following a strict rule: Do not bother Mrs. Bean’s yard at all. I may have set the rule myself after the time I got scolded by my mom and dad for stealing her snow one winter. Her snow had no footprints and wasn’t being used anyway.
It was December 1973. A whole bunch of my friends were over one day after school and we played in the sandbox. I liked playing outside when my friends were over better because inside all Chukie wanted to do was play with my cars and I liked to play with my cars by myself.
So one day after school we were all in the sandbox and we were singing. It must have been pretty close to Christmas because we were all singing "Up on the Housetop."
We were happy that it was almost Christmas. The sand was too dry to work with so we got a hose and turned it on in the sandbox. The water made little canyons that looked like The Grand Canyon, but smaller.
"Ho-Ho-HO," we all sang real loud. "Who would know?"
The afternoon was joyous as only 6 and 7 year olds know.
“HO-HO-HHOOO!! Who would know?”
Then I saw it. The water from the hose was forgotten long enough and I saw calamity. I had to tell my friends, but not ruin the moment. So I kept singing, just different words:
"And ho-ho-ho, who would know that the water is going into Mrs. Bean's yard?" There was a pause of dead silence and then a collective gasp. Suddenly the sandbox was alive with boys running around shouting orders to each other like the 3 Stooges in a sinking rowboat.
The water was finally stopped. And we prayed that Mrs. Bean wouldn't notice the wet spot on the far corner of her backyard.
The next day at school we were all happy to have lived through the disaster. We didn't talk about it much. But when the class all sang "Up on the Housetop," we looked at each other and shuddered knowingly.

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