1969 – It was afternoon in the late summer and we were bored. My girlfriend, Gail, and I were plopped down on the warm grass in front of our house when my sister’s boyfriend drove up. He got out of his jacked-up muscle car, we all said hi, and then he and my sister went to the back shaded patio.
I looked at my girlfriend. She looked at me. We grinned.
Without a word, I jumped up, ran into the house, and grabbed a huge stack of old newspapers from the dining room. I enlisted some of the younger siblings to help us wad up every single sheet until we had a pile of crushed newspapers practically as tall as the house.
“Hurry, open the door!” I hollered at someone. In brigade style, we completely filled the muscle car with the crinkled papers, giggling and stifling our muffled laughter and threatening the little kids not to tell. When he came back out, he wouldn’t be able to get into his cool car without a huge mess. We rolled the windows up carefully and hurriedly laid back down on the lawn. Nonchalantly picking at the grass . . .groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon.
A short while later, he came out. When he saw his car, and we saw his face, we roared with laughter.
Until Mom came out.
She stared at the car, quietly walked up to it, and looked in.
“Dammit, Rosie, GET OVER HERE!”
What? Mom didn’t appreciate our innocent little prank? She knew we would all help him clean up.
“Where did you get these papers?”
“In the dining room.”
“I specifically set these aside in the back of the cupboard. I didn’t want ANYONE touching them! THESE ARE ALL FROM THE DAY WE LANDED ON THE MOON!”
Yikes! That was a big deal. Earlier in July, our US astronauts had landed on and taken the first steps on the moon. My mother had been thrilled and hoped to save the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee first editions for many years to come.
I stood there riddled with guilt. Everyone else had scuttled away and taken cover somewhere else.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t know.”
Mom was waited and then said, “You can unfold every one of these and iron them out. Today. Put a dry dish towel over each one so you don’t burn them.”
I’ll never forget that summer, the moon landing, or the long and TEDIOUS labor of ironing newspapers for hours, all by myself, my sister gloating all the while.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were American heroes and I was not. They had taken one small step for man, and a giant leap for mankind. I had taken one small step for fun and ended up taking one giant leap into trouble.
But, boy, I also remember that car. In minutes, totally stuffed to the top with newspapers. And us, all innocently grazin’ the grass, baby, can you dig it.
It was bitchen.
Listen HERE! GRAZIN IN THE GRASS – Friends of Distinction