Installment number three of “Clay’s Life Pre-April”:
Gary and I spent most of our awake time at each others houses. If I wasn’t at his, he was at mine. Our phone calls to come over went like this, “Are you coming over?” “Yea, Dad said it was okay.” “I’m timing you. One…” Once that was uttered, one of us would take off running out of their house and across the street while the other stood at their front door yelling “…FIVE…SIX…SEVEN…EIGHT…” The challenge was to get to the other person’s door before ten seconds were up. It made for exciting traffic dodging.
One of the benefits of coming to my house was an old Apple IIc computer with a computer game that we spent way too long playing, a still working go-cart that was more rust and grumble than an actual vehicle, and a butt cushion. Yes, I said a butt cushion.
My house was a split level house. It connected four levels with three runs of stairs that went from our den up through the kitchen/living room level up through a level of two bedrooms to the top level of two bedrooms. When we moved into the house, all of the stairs were carpeted and as slick as hot snot on a silver platter. It was great for kids to slide down but treacherous for adults if they didn’t take care. My mom was one of the “un-careful” and ended up sliding down the bottom run of stairs on her butt. We thought it was pretty funny when she came shooting into the den where we were watching TV. But she did not agree and after a bunch of “oh, wait, are you okay?” questions, we decided that she needed an ambulance. It turns out her tail bone was broken. And much like a finger, there is not a lot you can do to help set the tailbone once it is broken. That is, unless your medical professional has a spare butt cushion lying around. Ours did.
A butt cushion is a large foam rubber disc about the size of a toilet seat with a hole in the middle. It is actually the same in proportion and color to a gigantic, unglazed donut. Mom used it to sit on so that her tailbone was hovering an inch or so above where ever she sat. I remember a lot of frustration with that thing and that she didn’t use it very long.
We kids, however, used it for the rest of our childhood lives.
It was great. It was a chest pillow for watching TV on the floor, a seat pillow for our wooden kitchen chairs that made you sit about six inches higher than normal and therefore look and feel like an adult, and a spring board for launching yourself from the living room couch to the easy chair without actually touching the floor. Another benefit was that it would soar through the air like a Frisbee if you flicked your wrist just right. It flew perfectly, and with speed. I tested it as much as I could by ricocheting it off Gary’s head, back, chest, knees every chance I got. He would usually send it back by way of my face. It kind of hurt.
One day when my Dad was out of the house, Gary and I launched into the “whip the butt cushion at your friend” game. We cornered, slid, flung, dashed, dove, and damaged each other for the better part of ten minutes until in a final desperate “this is the throw of throws” pitch Gary sent it flying at my head. My cat-like reflexes kicked in, I dodged and the butt cushion went spinning into the living room. Right for my Dad’s desk. In particular, my Dad’s desk lamp. The lamp that my Dad loved.
The lamp was a globe on a post that sat about 15 inches high. The cushion hit the base of the lamp and it rocked back and forth for a few seconds and fell over. The globe came loose from the stand and it rolled, slowly, toward the edge of the desk. Gary and I froze. We couldn’t move. I saw all of my hopes and dreams slowly rolling toward destruction. And it seemed to take forever for that ribbed, frosted glass globe to click and chunk across Dad’s desk. And Gary and I just watched it with our mouths agape.
It reached the edge and looked like it was going to stop. But it didn’t. It fell and smashed onto our wood floors in no less than a million pieces. Gary and I looked at each other. I think Gary said “Oh crap, what are we going to do?” I think I grabbed a broom and started to clean it up. I think we tried to hide the evidence as best we could but in the end it was a freakin’ desk lamp at a spot where Dad spent a lot of time. He was going to find out eventually.
I confessed when Dad got home and got in trouble. I don’t remember the punishment, I think I blocked it from my memory, but I do remember that Dad spent years looking for a replacement globe for that lamp but never found one.
Gary steered clear of the house for a while after that.