Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Bushes

We lived in a condo, so there wasn't really a yard to play in, but there was a schoolyard across the street and a park in the back of the complex that butted up against the freeway. Of course I played in the schoolyard every day, but most of my playtime memories involve the park. Since it was right next to the freeway, it was bordered by a 10 foot high chain link fence that was covered in oleander bushes. They would get pinkish red blooms in the summertime that didn't smell at all. But the bushes themselves were more interesting than the flowers. They were higher than the fence, and it was easy for us kids to play inside them. The branches formed "rooms" and we would spend lots of time playing "house" in the bushes, making mud pies and having our friends over to pretend we were having tea, and the like.
Sometimes my mom would let me go to the park without an adult when I got a little older, as long as I had another kid with me. Usually this was my cousin Shelly, whose mom was my uncle Jerry's third or fourth wife and who wasn't actually related to me at all except through marriage. Shelly was a couple of years older than me- she was 12 and I was 10- and she always bossed me around, treated me like a baby and generally behaved as though she was far superior to me. I couldn't stand her, but I tolerated her because she was the only one I had to play with, since my brother was only 2 years old.
Once, we went to the park and were playing house in the bushes and I realized I had to pee. I was going to run to my Mema (grandmother) and Papa (grandfather)'s house, which was right by the park, to use their restroom, but Shelly said, "This is our house. Why don't you use the bathroom here in the bushes?"
"I don't want to. I'm going to Mema and Papa's."
"No," she whined, "I'm not allowed to play out here alone, and I don't want to go with you. Just go in the bushes. No one will see."
I had to pee so bad, and I knew that Shelly would argue with me until I peed my pants, so I actually did it- I found a closely wooded spot, did my business, and then went back to playing.
Later than evening we went back home and Shelly walked right up to my mom and said, "Gina peed in the bushes at the park," then she smiled and went upstairs to her apartment and left me there alone.
"WHAT?" my mom shouted. "Gina LOUISE, you do NOT use the bushes to pee! There are perverts everywhere! Something terrible could have happened!!"
"Shelly told me to," I said meekly, realizing that it was a feeble excuse but having no other defense.
"I don't care," my mom said. "I raised you to know better than that. You have to think for yourself. You're grounded. You can't go to the park for a week, and you're not allowed to play with Shelly anymore unless Mema or Papa or some other adult is around. Now, go to your room."
I wasn't happy to be grounded, or to have the park off limits, but I have to say, I wasn't terribly broken up about not being allowed to play with Shelly anymore. She was always much nicer to me when parents were around. And I still think that it was a really shitty thing she did, to coax me into peeing in the bushes and then tell my mom about it.


  1. Shelly was a bitch! ;) You have told me other stories about her, that have also led me to this conclusion!

  2. Shelly reminds me of a character in the teen novel, "Al Capone Does My Shirts." Yeah, kids can be bitches, too.