Growing up in rural Mathews, we children had to invent our own fun. There were no video games, no videos, no hand-held electronics, no computers, just lots of riding bikes, making forts, painting shutters pink, pulling up stop signs, toilet papering teacher's houses, riding ponies, going out in the row boat and the usual* stuff like that. Television consisted of ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS. Saturday morning was the only time we saw cartoons, other than H.R. Puffenstuff on Sunday and Does anyone else find the name "PUFFENSTUFF" remotely inappropriate for a children's program, and what, exactly, was the STUFF HE WAS PUFFIN'?
*In Mathews, there is one consistent theme: Not much is "usual."
Once again, and as usual, I digress.
"Painting shutters pink?" you may ask. Pulling up stop signs? Yes. And yes again. But I'll save the stop sign story for another time.
The shutter story will go down in infamy as one of The Most Unfair Penalties ever imposed on one of the two kids involved, namely yours truly.
My neighbor, Marie, and I were bored. As my friend from Finland would say, because she confuses the English language sometimes, we weren't just bored, we were bored SOLID. So, just like any normal* kids would do, we went next door to my grandfather's barn, looked around for something to do, found a bunch of old green shutters from off his farmhouse, and, as luck would have it, also found some buckets of pink paint. And, just like any normal* kids would do, the natural conclusion we came to was: Let's paint these shutters pink. Excellent, we had a plan and an activity, and boy was it going to be fun. And different, may I add. Anything but usual.
*Note: "Normal" in Mathews is a relative term, and is loosely defined as Anything Goes.
To this day, I must give myself two snaps and a high five for coming up with such a creative idea. We dragged a couple of shutters to the back of the barn and started painting away. When we were done, we left them leaning against the barn to dry and went back to our respective homes for supper, no big thing. Our job was done, our project complete. We had successfully killed the afternoon that was otherwise destined for boredom.
This is where things turned ugly. Somebody found the shutters in all their pink glory leaning up against the barn. Somebody asked my mother if I was involved. With acute survival skills kicking in, when asked, I said I had not done anything and was not involved. Marie, when questioned, confessed all. I was caught in a lie. I hate it when Somebody ruins your fun.
When my father came home, he did what any parent at that time would do: he gave me a whippin' not for painting the shutters pink, but for telling the lie. Marie got off scott free. (Note: Child Protective Services does not need to be notified. No children were harmed in the telling of this particular lie and the painting of those pink shutters. If you wanted to make a case, wait until I tell you about the flyswatters we had back then. And the hairbrushes that seemed to be made of lead. I'm kidding. The hairbrushes were plastic.)
I know, I know, I told a lie and I deserved the punishment. There was nothing unfair about what happened. But will SOMEONE please give me some credit for coming up with an innovative, creative, child-friendly activity on an exceedingly boring afternoon? And even though pink is not my favorite color, I thought those shutters were greatly improved.
To this day I hate the color pink. And I do not tell lies. I do still get an inkling to toilet paper people's houses, though. And right now, I'm bored.