Once upon a time, I was eight and very opinionated. After an argument with someone in my family, I stomped outside, vowing to “leave home forever, and never ever come back, and you’ll all be sorry when I die on the streets, alone.” But of course, I didn’t get very far. I just sat down on the front stoop in my yellow striped sun-dress and pink rainboots—don’t ever say I didn’t have style—and pouted, one of those huge lower lip extension pouts. I was going to stick my lip out as far as I possibly could to prove the depth of my anger and disappointment. There was nothing model-esque about it. And I crossed my arms, narrowed my eyes, and stared out across the street.
A few minutes later, one of my neighbors, a boy close to my age (we’ll call him Soccer Boy), walked across the street to ask to borrow our soccer goal. But instead of asking me if he could use it, he started to sing “I see London. I see France. I see Ella’s underpants.” And it was true, if you’re wearing a dress, you should never sit on steps without keeping your knees together and shifting your legs to the side. I was showing my “Fabulous Fushia”—as the sparkly print on the front of the panties proclaimed—underwear off to the entire world. And if I had been upset before, it was nothing compared to now. So I drew myself up to my full height, stomped one boot, and said in a haughty voice, “I hate you.” Then, I stuck my tongue out in my most menacing manner for good measure.
He left, and I went back to my job as a professional sulker. About half an hour later, some of the “gang” (the name for my group of friends, Soccer Boy included, that lived on our block), including Soccer Boy, came traipsing up the street with tomato stakes and someone’s wheelbarrow. Soccer Boy decided that now would be an excellent time to show off for the bunch of them, but instead of racing down the street at top speed on a Segway or jumping off of the back of our neighbor’s seven-foot-tall half-pipe (yes, we did do all of that and more) or even eating tree leaves (not a good idea, not that I know this from experience or anything), he decided to pry the cover off of a water meter. (Where we lived, the water meters were buried a few feet into the ground, close to the sidewalk on every houses’ side lawn, and they had these white plates covering them. (We spent a lot of time putting things in these holes that didn’t belong there, like acorns (to grow an oak tree) and letters to the fairy gods.)) And then he proceeded to lower himself into the hole.
Eight-year-olds are very narrow, but as it turns out, not narrow enough not to get stuck in water meter holes. He was stuck almost exactly at his waist, and to prove how good of friends we all were, we decided to cover him with shredded grass and laugh. It was all fun and games, even for Soccer Boy, until it became apparent that he wasn’t just stuck temporarily. He was honest to goodness really wedged into that hole. We fetched his father, but he was too old to be able to pull Soccer Boy out, so we had to get my mother to do it. And much to his embarrassment, his pants mostly came off and his underwear looked like it was also threatening to retreat to the depths of the hole.
And that, my friends, was the sweetest revenge. I didn’t even have to do a thing. He got himself into the whole mess. And his underwear blunder was far worse than mine and involved an audience of five kids and two adults. His story has since been told numerous, numerous times, to side-hurting laughter, whereas my underwear story has probably only been recounted a total of three times and only as a preamble to his. After all, every girl ends up showing her underwear off to the world like that at some point in her life, but it takes a very special person to nearly lose his pants in a water meter hole.
Also, Soccer Boy, if you are by any chance reading this—something I heavily doubt—I’m sorry for telling this story. It was too funny to pass up. I won’t tell who you are, if you agree not to yell at me.
And with that, darling Maxwell and I wish you a goodnight from a bed that is now covered with a fancy blue bedspread I swiped from Pippa’s room. Pippa, we’ll return it when you get home; it doesn’t match the rest of my decor very well, anyway.
As always, you can also find me on tumblr at http://emleng93.tumblr.com/, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.