Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On Being Chased

Once over dinner my husband and some friends recalled frightening childhood memories of being chased. I was surprised that they had all been through (and survived) something so scary. My childhood was fraught with danger and trepidation (not the least of which were the "Indians" who lived on and worked the orchard next door. Um. They weren't really Indians--but I thought they were for a long, long time). As afraid as I remember being much of the time, I was never EVER actually chased. I think I would have had a heart attack. My imaginary abductors were scary enough. Perhaps my would-be assailants sensed this and considered me a liability. We'll never know.

Even though no one ever chased me, I do have vivid memories of running away. I could run away really really fast if I had to. Once after a sleepover I was walking home with a friend in pajamas and a robe. (I'm pretty sure the robe was yellow terry cloth with red ric rac, sewn by my mom.) It was around noon--you remember those lazy sleepover mornings, don't you? We thought it was maybe a little embarrassing that we were still in our pajamas so we pretended to be weak and sick as we walked. This, we reasoned, would make the people in cars passing us feel sorry for us instead of judging us for still being in our pajamas. We started to fall over onto the ground to really make it convincing but when a car slowed down we jumped up and ran away! We had to!

On another occasion--a real red-letter day, in fact--I was walking home with my friend Rachel after her older sister had taken us to Castletons to buy our first bras. (I didn't really need one.) Her sister had cruelly made us try them on over our clothes right by the cashier. Rachel's sisters were insufferably cruel. If anyone would have ever really chased me, it would have been one of them. We had returned to my house and put our bras on. Then we had to walk to Rachel's. Such walking, climbing fences, and "cutting through" yards are the gist of my childhood.

I was so self-conscious with my new bra on that I thought everyone could see the strap in back through my shirt. I was also convinced they could see the box through the white paper sack I carried--As if the letters "B" "R" "A" were readable through the opaque bag. I rolled it up into a sweaty and twisty cone in my fist. As we passed the local tree house we saw Brent Hamilton, who I loved [unrequited] all through grade school. We screamed and ran away so dang fast! We had to.

Just a word or two more about the elusive Brent Hamilton: Once on Valentine's night I received a doorbell-ditch valentine written in red pencil with a sugar cookie. Though there was little evidence to support this notion, I always believed in my heart that the valentine was from Brent. It only occurs to me now that it was more likely from my primary teacher. Or my speech therapist. Just kidding. (Partly.)

Brent's mom asked me and my sister, Heidi to babysit for them on New Year's Eve. This was an awesome gig, as we had nothing better to do. We babysat his little brother and as the clock struck twelve I rifled through Brent's belongings for mementos. We babysat for them on New Year's Eve two years in a row. His mom was probably so happy--you know how hard it is to get a sitter on New Year's Eve. By now it should be clear and I shouldn't have to belabor the point at my own expense. Me: babysitting. Him: gone. Me: had nothing better to do. Other people: at parties. Such pathetic desperation is the gist of my tweens.

So, though I imagined it rather vividly, I was never chased. Or even pursued. At all.

Stay tuned for the next installment about my raucous tweens: On Being Chaste.


  1. Anonymous1:41 PM

    It is scary and awe-inspiring to reflect that our daughters are hurtling toward the ages at which these events and feelings happen. Wow.

    What I wonder is, was my mother as young as I am when these things happened to me? Of course, I am not a particularly young mom. Perhaps I just feel young and unready for tween angst.

  2. Brent Hamilton. I had no idea.

    Weren't you with us when we were walking to my house from the Carlsons one night through the orchard and we SWORE Freddy Kruger was chasing us and I fell on some barbed wire and got a cut on my leg JUST LIKE Freddy's fingers would leave? I remember you being there.

  3. I was chased by a itty-bitty dog once while walking on foot. I was also chased by big dog while riding a bike. I don't recall ever being chased by a person.

  4. I'm glad to know you figured out that the bra goes UNDER the clothes, not on top.

    I've never been chased, except in second grade when Jonathon B decided he liked me and pursued me daily at recess. Then we had the weekend and the next Monday he liked someone else.

  5. I was once chased by a large and spikey tumbleweed. It snuck up on me while I was sitting on the fire hydrant in front of my house that faced a busy street (which is how I spent my days in my early childhood--when I was autistic). I totally would have babysat for the Hamiltons too, and considered it some sign from Above that Brent and I were destined to spend eternity together.

  6. First of all, I LOVE this slice of your past. You should save it in a collection of memories and write, oh, I don't know....a memoir. One time I was pretending to be falling off a mountain behind the Carlsons house. I lying on a hill, pretending to hang on by some weeds. I made such a loud noise that a much older boy came and rescued me. It was both humiliating and fantastically wonderful. That boy turned out to be my future husband...well, not quite, but in my fantasies he was.

  7. Didn't I rifle through Blaine's stuff and then develop an imaginary crush on him after that? I remember that bathrobe.

  8. First of all, this needs to go in your book.

    Your accounts remind me of helping my big brother with his paper route in the arctic cold of the plains when I was in my tweens. I would lie on the ground yelling I was "soooo collld--I think I'll just lie here and DIE!" . . . , to get sympathy, and one time a man came over to help me and I ran away as fast as I could. Thanks for conjuring up that traumatic memory.

  9. Anonymous2:37 PM

    Oh Brent Hamilton. I loved him in 3rd grade. He even wrote me a note once that Ken VonBerg found.

    You are correct if being chased it would have been one of the Miner girls. LOL


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