Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Superman Room of Her Own

When I was 7 we rented a house, and the back bedroom was covered on all four walls with Superman wallpaper. It had a comic book Superman printed in 6 different poses. This room was my family's "miscellaneous" room -- everything that didn't have a proper place elsewhere ended up in that room. I never went in there willingly, I guess that's why it ended up being the punishment room.

I wasn't really a naughty kid -- just the typical nonsense -- but I do have one vivid memory of the Superman Room. I had lollygagged after school with a group of kids from my class and we were thrilled to have the playground to ourselves. We stayed there for almost an hour after school let out... until someone's mom came looking for us, then we all got busted.

I walked home, back to the Sitter's house (she watched several kids from my school and we were supposed to walk home together, but this day I was the last one in) and on my way I pinched a kumquat off the Neighbor's tree (which we were forbidden to do). I ate it quickly and was trying to rush into the house to wash my hands before I got caught with the fruit and instead I got caught up in a tirade for the next 20 minutes where were you? you could have been kidnapped! dead in a ditch! The lecture only stopped because my dad had come to pick me up -- early and unexpected. The Sitter, of course, relayed the story and my dad agreed to take care of my punishment. At the time, my dad had a motorcycle, so I was spared the car-ride-home-lecture. Once we got home, however, he was at a loss at what to do next -- what to say? I heard the same you could have been kidnapped! dead in a ditch! speech again and then... what now? The whole time, I was totally preoccupied with the fact that he would find out that I ate the kumquat. We'd been scolded so many times by both the Sitter and the Neighbor that I was more afraid of what would happen if they found out! I knew that I wasn't kidnapped or dead in a ditch... I was at the playground. But the fruit! What if they knew?

Not knowing what else to do, my dad sent me first to my room. No, that wouldn't work. Too many toys, books, etc. Go to the Superman Room. For how long? Count all the Superman pictures and then you can go. 120, dad. What? That was too fast! (there were only 6 different Superman pictures -- just count how many times the one shows up, then multiply by 6) No, no, go back. And sit in the corner. Face the corner. But can I go to the bathroom first? (I needed to brush my teeth before he found out about the fruit!) Yes, but then right back to the corner.

So there I sat, staring at Superman, one arm outstretched, flying through the aqua background of the wallpaper. I felt only a slight twinge of apprehension... what would happen when Mom comes home? Will I be grounded? Will she know about the fruit? Will the Sitter know tomorrow? Instead, I sat in the corner, staring at the blurred-edges of the Superman print of the paper for about 10 minutes then was released to play. No mention to Mom. No need. Superman was punishment enough.

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