Five-Year-Old Ella and the Time She Got Caught on a Fence and Ripped Through Her Underpants

As I am feeling particularly goofy tonight, I thought that I would tell a funny story.

When I was a child, we had a backyard that could be accessed via a very tall (close to seven feet, if memory serves me well) wooden gate. But for the longest time, I could not figure out how to opperate it. So instead of going through the house to get into the backyard, I would climb up our neighbors’ chain link fence, grab hold of the top of our fence, and very awkwardly drop down into the yard, hopefully avoiding a hydrangea bush.

Unsurprisingly, this very bizarre and inefficient method never worked very well, and I had a tendency to get stuck in the process. Now, pretty much any five-year-old will panic in this situation, but I would also start to flail, in an attempt to get free. Normally, I would tumble down fairly easily and go on my merry way, but I once got caught by the hem of my dress on the top of the chain link fence, and somehow ended up hanging upside down, suspended by my dress and underpants.

When I finally fell face-first into some ivy, I discovered that while my dress did not appear to be harmed, I had somehow managed to rip through my underpants. However, we’re not talking a little rip around the hem, here, they actually had ripped horizontally through the crotch. It looked like a weird sort of loincloth.

Amusingly, because I was only five at the time, I just got up, walked through the house, and went to play in the backyard without mentioning the rip to anyone or changing my underpants. I cannot remember how I ended up getting rid of the underpants–whether I tried to toss them or bury them in the backyard (Person who purchased our house, please do not dig under the pine tree in the corner, or you’ll be very, very sorry. Also, there is a dead cat in a trash bag under the butterfly bush, who was layer to rest with a proper Christian funeral, complete with a eulogy, so you might not want to mess with that, either.), like I did the time I ripped and bloodied a shirt while messing about with a curtain rod and slate roofing tiles.

I wish I could say that this was the last time I ever got caught on a fence, ripped through a pair of underwear, or fell on my face, but alas it is not. Fortunately, with the exception of a very unfortunate experience in the pond at summer camp, none of these repeat experiences have been very awful.

Note: When deciding whether or not to hurdle over a fence, it should be taken into consideration that fences are often higher than they look. This especially applies to the one in the yard of my beach house. I do not know this from experience or anything.

In the spirit of democracy, and because I’m very curious to know what my readers think, why don’t you scroll on down to these three polls and vote.



And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Soccer Boy Gets Stuck and Nearly Loses His Pants in A Water Main Hole

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, if, you know, you’re into that kind of thing.

In Which Ella Gets Suspicious

This evening I was carrying a basket of laundry to the basement when someone knocked on the front door. And when I looked through the window to see who it was, I saw an old man, holding up a badge that said he was a school security guard. The picture on the badge matched his face and the badge was the same type that all the school security guards wear, so I opened the door and asked him what he needed.

It turns out he wanted my neighbor’s phone number so that he could establish their residency in the town. He said that they weren’t answering the door. Now, I do know that the town has been having a problem with out of district students, but my neighbors have had their kids in the public school system since they were in kindergarden. The oldest one is fifteen and a high school sophomore! It’s not like they’re renting their house, either. They own it, which means that if you go town hall, you can see the official documents proving that they own the house, live in it, and pay their taxes. Having a school security officer come to their house is entirely unnecessary when one phone call or quick look over their records would confirm the obvious.

Then, the guy said that he couldn’t get into the house because of the dog, which also struck me as strange because they have a very docile golden retriever. He also said he was trying to go knock on their back door. It was all very weird, and I stood there a little dumbstruck as I watched him walk across their yard and to their gate.

So thirty minutes later, I spoke to my neighbor about what I had seen happen. It turns out that they were home the entire time and never heard a knock or the doorbell, and he let the dog out of the backyard. They had to go scouring the neighborhood to find her.

I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m really hoping that no one tries to break into any of our houses. And if they try to get into our house, the joke’s really on them. We’ve got double locking windows, no hidden keys, and a security system. They’d either be unable to get in or get caught by the police very quickly.

It wasn’t until the security officer left that I realized that I had been holding the laundry the entire time I was talking to him, and all of the underwear was on top. This is one of the many reasons I am glad I’m no longer in high school. I’m never going to have to see that guy again, knowing that he saw all of my underwear. Of course, the underwear matters very little compared the potential security threat.

In other news, no screaming and convulsion inducing nightmares last night!

In other, other news, I have eighty percent of a very long post drafted about the remainder of my adventures in the city on the day of Maureen Johnson’s book launch party for The Name of the Star. Expect it tomorrow. Warning: Good things happen.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Once Upon a Time Pippa and Ella Were Adorable

I spent a huge portion of today scanning pictures and editing photographs. It’s well after midnight, and I still have quite a ways to go.

Here are a few unedited pictures from my childhood:

A Museum Gala Dedicating a Gallery to My Great Grandfather (from left to right: Pippa, cousin, Ella)

Boca Raton (left to right: Pippa, Jean L'Ours, Ella

I also spent about three hours in the mall, shopping with my mom. On the upside, I got to take pictures of all the ridiculous clothes and send them to people while I waited for my mom outside of the dressing rooms. My favorite was the weird thong attached to a tutu-thing I found at Victoria’s Secret, which I sadly don’t have in picture form on the internet yet. (When I get it, it will be posted. It is totally worth it.) The other best thing about being dragged in there is standing by the door and watching guys nearly run into a conveniently positioned planter because they’re looking at the mannequins and posters in front of the store instead of the ground in front of them. Finally, if you get really bored with all of those shenanigans, you can sit on the floor next to the dressing rooms, put underwear from the nearby display on your head, and send a picture to your younger sister, Pippa, who will call you a dork and ask you to buy her clothes.

And as always, you can also find me on tumblr at, if you’re into that kind of thing.