KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mean Girls Among the Ligustrums

Ligustrum hedge—not the one I grew up withBlogging friend Imperatrix has posted about her favorite childhood imaginative play with her sister. That made me remember a drama that my own sister and I used to enjoy, one that eventually came to include playing a trick on our younger brother ... until he caught on.

My sister is 2 years younger than me, and our brother is 5 years younger than her. I don't remember how old we were when this drama was popular, but our brother was at least old enough to be able to handle a full-size (as opposed to toy) broom.

Our dad had built us girls a one-room playhouse in the backyard. We'd play Lost Girl, a drama of our own making, taking turns being the girl in question, with the other sister being the kind woman who lived in the [play]house in the imaginary woods. The story line invariably was that Lost Girl found herself without family because of some vague catastrophe, then wandered in the woods until she found Kind Woman's house. Kind Woman would take her in, and they'd have a wonderful life. (Yes, we were wishing for parents other than our own, but that's another story, a long, somber one for another time ... perhaps.)

One of the tasks of that life involved sweeping up the house. When our brother was old enough to play with us but still gullible, we'd let him be Lost Boy, sibling to Lost Girl. Kind Woman would send him out to hunt for food for the new little family, while Lost Girl helped around the house. Then when he returned with an imaginary catch, Lost Girl and Kind Woman would go outside of the house to prepare the dinner, and Kind Woman would request that Lost Boy sweep the floor.

Kind Woman and Lost Girl had plans other than food prep—nefarious plans—on their minds. They knew that the back wall of the house had been formed by placing two large sheets of plywood horizontally parallel to one another. Furthermore, they knew that there was a hairline gap between the two sheets. So while Lost Boy was sweeping inside the house, Kind Woman and Lost Girl picked waxy leaves from the long, towering row of ligustrums behind the house that camouflaged the chain-link fence on that side of the yard.

And then they did their evil deed: They fed those leaves, one by one, through the gap in the playhouse's back wall.

Lost Boy, being very young and gullible, couldn't figure out how those leaves were working their way through the back wall and onto the floor. He just kept sweeping, getting more and more aggravated, but he was determined to do his part to keep the house clean. I think that it took him a few reprises of Lost Girl to figure out the mystery. Lost Girl's and Kind Woman's eventual inability to stifle their giggles probably hastened his epiphany.

Amazingly, my brother is now one of my best friends, despite years of such suffering at the hands of my sister and me. ;-)


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story.

Betsy Davenport said...

I love that story. It does, however, remind me of several such running "jokes" in my family, but I myself was the gullible youngest one.

Some were completely harmless; some were, if not damaging, surely painful.

Tell us another story, Katharine?

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