Sunday, August 29, 2010

Youthful Adventures - Avoiding the Curfew...

Right off the bat, you need to know that I made this right with my Dad before he passed away.  He had long since forgiven these indiscretions, and his only comment was something to the effect, "What goes around, comes around".  So far, he's wrong, my kids seem to follow the household rules much better than I ever did, but then again there are far fewer of them (rules and kids).  On to the story....

     The house I grew up in was a house of rules.  As you might imagine, when raising 12 children, it is far easier to establish hard rules and then bend them when the situations warrant, than to parent on a case by case basis.  Some of our rules were just understood, like Dad getting the biggest piece of meat, or a slice of cake from the middle of a square pan (you know that they are the most moist).  Other rules were actually written so there could be no arguing of ambiguity later. For me in 1981, my curfew was like that.  It was hard and fast with no ambiguity, and I almost never made it home before it. 

     In my defense, I followed the other rules, I went to church, I had my laundry down on my day, I did my chores and contributed around the house, but I just couldn't see eye to eye with my Dad on the curfew.  I was supposed to come home on the weekends by 12, or immediately after work.  I worked at a local pizza place (Papa Franks -Woot Woot !) and it was open until 12, so I was expected within 15 minutes of actually finishing for the night.  When I came home, I was supposed to be quiet and go to bed.   This is really difficult to do for most people, it's natural to want to relax, and wind down for a little while after finishing work, but my curfew didn't allow this, so I justified breaking it each weekend. 

     My parents normally turned in around 10 or 11 o'clock.  They would leave a key under the mat in our outside foyer, and a list on the table with the names of their kids that were still out that particular evening.  You were supposed to sign in with the time you came home, and if you were the last one in, turn the light out.  I always turned the light out.  I really enjoyed sitting with my peers, playing cards, having a few beers (the drinking age was 16 back then), and relaxing.  I frequently would find myself walking home at 2, 3 or 4 in the morning.  The list wasn't really much of a deterrent.  Since Mom and Dad went to bed before I was supposed to be home, I could just sign in erroneously at 12:18 or so, and turn out the light.  Case closed.  The only failing to the plan was if you woke them when you came in, so in turn I became an expert at not waking them. 

     I kept the doors hinges well oiled, I memorized the squeaky stairs so I could avoid them, I moved like a cat past their room, and up to mine each night, no matter what my condition when I came in.  It was a survival game after all.  I even taught the new dog not to bark at me when I came in at night.  Well, technically I taught the new dog not to bark at anyone who came in at night, but who's counting?  I was the Master at avoiding the curfew.  I never got caught coming in late, ever.  My Dad, however, did suspect me, and tried his best to catch me.  It was a chess match of epic proportions. 



     One night he awoke at 3, and saw I was the only one out.  He took the key in, figuring I would have to ring the doorbell.  Wrong!  I came in the back door, and didn't sign the list or turn out the light.  In the morning I told him I came in prior to my last sibling, but had forgotten to sign in.  Check!  He didn't really believe me, but he couldn't prove me wrong either.  The next time he did it, he locked both doors, so I used the Bilco doors in the basement, without ever disturbing a soul.  Check!  Another night he locked all the doors, figuring he had me, and went to bed.  That night I climbed in the front window, crawled across a table, and flipped into a living room chair, all noiselessly, intoxicated and with the family dog watching my every move.  Check, again!  He countered the next morning by waking me up at 6 and taking me out to my Uncle's farm and working me all day. I really didn't mind, at least I had had my fun.  This really never changed with me, I like to work hard, but I love to have my fun. 

     The closest time I ever came to getting caught was a particularly fun night of debauchery that ended near 6 am.  I remember talking of going to Canada that night, but in the end we just did the usual stuff, but much later than usual.  I was halfway in the front door, when I heard the downstairs toilet flush and I realized that my Dad was already up for work.  I was screwed.  He had wanted to catch me for months, and quickly assessing the situation, I realized that he had me.  He had half the number of steps to come out to see the stairs than I did to make it up them, and even if I made it, I couldn't climb up the stairs that quickly and quietly.  I then had this epiphany.  I couldn't make it up the stairs in that time, but I could make it DOWN the stairs in that time!!  I rushed over to the stairs, quickly climbing 4 or 5 stairs, turned on my heel and I started down them again, just as my Dad came within sight of them.  I walked to the coffee pot (hands shaking), and started to pour myself a cup.  Dad said "What are you doing up so early?"  Thinking quickly, I replied " I thought I would take up jogging".  My Dad shrugged and started to peruse the paper, and I finished my coffee quickly and went jogging for a half an hour just to make it look good.  Checkmate!  Shortly thereafter, I turned 18, and my Dad thought it would be a good idea if I found a different place to live other than his house, so I did.  Our relationship improved tremendously after that. 

     So at the end of this story there really should be a deep message or moral, but for the life of me, I can't find it.  I am thankful that my kids are so much better behaved, I chalk this up to my wife and her excellent parenting.  I felt guilt for a long time, until that talk with my Dad, and he made me feel better about it.  So maybe that's the message here?  Maybe there is nothing you can do to your Father, even breaking his commandments that he has written out, that he will not forgive.  You only need to come clean and ask.  I love you Dad.
    

7 comments:

cdyarger said...

Well said! You make your Dad proud! And the behavior of OUR children is a credit to BOTH of us! Love you!

loveyourlife37 said...

hahahahahahahaha you're full of baloney, we know the drinking age wasn't even 18 in your time, but 21. Just like it is now.

The rest was really touching, Dad. Well done.
<3

Bill said...

Actually it was 18, remember I am a fossil.

Anonymous said...

Hate to burst you bubble Brother Bill but the drinking age in NY was never 16

Bill said...

Brother Mike, you've been my brother for 45 years and you still can't tell when I am being facetious?

Andrea Moore said...

lol.. In Canandaigua it WAS 16.. I can attest to that.

Karen Yarger said...

Funny, Bill. I was actually there for some of this!! Your mom made us sign in when your brother and I were dating and we were in our twentys!