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Monday, January 2, 2012

She Still Thinks It's Funny, or Little Sisters Lie and Everyone Knows It

A re-post, as I spent all of this glorious three-day weekend with a head cold the size of Canada.

I rarely do this, but the following is actually from my book "I Was Raised to be A Lert", so if you haven't bought it, here's a taste.

Happy New Year!

I grew up in a trailer, and because my father believed that “it’s harder to hit a moving target”, we moved.


Have you lived in a trailer? You are familiar, then, with the siding that goes around the bottom of it, yes?

The procedure, once the trailer’s been “dropped” is that you anchor it (thus making it harder for the inevitable tornado to suck you up and deposit you in Wisconsin) and then “skirt” it (thus making it harder for woodland creatures and/or trailer park cretins to burrow underneath and chew through wires/exposed pipes).

Some people don’t bother to skirt their trailers. This looks trashy, frankly, and bodes ill for its inhabitants, for reasons that shall become clear soon.

Some people skirt their trailers with wood. Affordable but prone to rot and the need to be repainted every couple of years.

And some people, like my family, skirt the trailer with aluminum siding. Won’t rot and doesn’t necessarily need to be painted. (As a quick aside, I was once accosted by someone who accused me of thinking my family was “high and mighty” for flaunting our aluminum siding…)

Siding is a good idea beyond just keeping out raccoons and drunks, though. It’s also handy for keeping the wind from screaming through the underside of your trailer and freezing your pipes.

Sometimes, though, despite the siding, despite having wrapped your pipes in whatever it was that Dad wrapped them in, you just can’t fight winter.

Was it roughly January or February that the Native Americans called The Moon of Popping Trees? Because that’s the kind of month that will freeze your pipes solid.

And so it was on a day where the ambient temperature was perhaps 30, 40 degrees below zero that my mother announced that the pipes were frozen.

You know what this means, don’t you?

It means the toilet no longer flushes.

There was a collective groan from my brother, sister and I.

Need to use the toilet? You now have the option of running to The Building - seven blocks away and overseen by a man who would disappear six months later in the middle of the night after charges were brought against him for sexually assaulting a fourth grader - or using an ice cream bucket.

Hmm. Walk a half-mile in the sub-zero to The Building or pee in the same bucket your father has just used.

We are all grossed-out, except for my father.

“Think of it as a new kind of camping!” he chortles.

My mother points out that it’s just going to get colder as night falls, Paul, and would he kindly just get his butt out there and thaw it out?

My father good-naturedly dons every article of clothing he owns and shimmies under the trailer with a hair dryer where he has, at least, the skirting to block the wind.

Do you know how long it takes to unfreeze plumbing with a hair dryer?

No; me, neither.

But my dad knows.

I am on the bed, playing Barbies, when my sister enters the room. She is two years young than I am and has dedicated her life up to that point to sticking her fingers in my ribs, both literally and figuratively.

“Did you know if you look down the toilet you can see Dad?”

“You can? You cannot!”

“No, really! You really can! Come see.”

In a move that will haunt me for the rest of my life, I follow her into the bathroom, where she lifts the lid on the toilet and I peer into the water; and for just a moment, I expect to see my father, lying on his back under the trailer…

“AHHHHHHHH! Kevin! Kevin! Come look! Pearl’s looking in the toilet for Dad!!!”

It’s one of Karen's cherished memories.


Shelly said...

This is such a rich memory it made me laugh again. Be careful when you're looking in toilets...

the walking man said...

Outsmarted by a younger sibling...very telling Pearl about your attitude of this day and age.

Sioux said...

So, that was your dad who was in the commercial years ago? The guy in the little boat, floating around in the toilet bowl?

Now it's all making sense...

mermaid gallery said...

damn sisters!..she got you good and I'm sure it still gets lots of laughs ....made me grin! ...good one!

Simply Suthern said...

I looked, He aint in my toilet either.

Ms Sparrow said...

The first six years of my marriage were spent living in a mobile home back in the 60's. My husband finally resorted to getting a heat tape that wound around the water pipe to keep it from freezing. Sometimes it worked. We would also turn on the water and let it run slowly all night to keep the water line from freezing, that didn't always work either. In the trailer court where we lived. some folks used hay bales as banking around their places. Frozen pipes in the winter was just a fact of life.

Joanne said...

Excellent laugh. I've done frozen pipes, and only the usual in the toilet.

Anonymous said...

She got you good that time.

danneromero said...

fun laugh to begin a new year. thanks!

CarrieBoo said...

Happy New Year, Pearl. And wow, things I didn't know about living in a trailer, and err, toilets! Intriguing. ;-D

CarrieBoo said...

P.S. Hope you feel better soon.

darlin said...

LOL sisters eh? I have 3 of them, we're all two years apart, me being the third one in line, so I can totally relate! We also did the trailer living and those frozen pipes were no fun at all, not without a dad to thaw them.

I hope you're feeling better real soon, take care and I hope this New Year is an amazing year for you... once you're feeling better that is.

Eva Gallant said...

We down-sized to a mobile home 15 years ago. About 8 years ago we had a winter where the temperature stayed below zero for 10 days. Needless to say, the pipes froze. Bless my son, he went under the trailer in that frigid weather with two electric heaters and it took him the better part of the day to get those suckers thawed out! Apparently the heat tape had died. I pray that never happens again! (I never thought to look in the toilet to see if I could see him, though!)

Linda O'Connell said...

I lived in a trailer in Alaska and some goon decided to dig a hole and put a stove UNDER his trailer. Let's just say when all of the pipes on all of the trailers froze, we were all ready to bury HIM under the trailer.

Vapid Vixen said...

I have TWO little sisters and it's a known fact that they're both liars...if it means getting a laugh out of someone.

Vapid Vixen said...

Oh. And the "flaunting" your aluminum siding made me laugh.

JohnD said...

When we became empty nesters we took to trailer living for a while, but seized upon a great opportunity to sell it and put the proceeds towards buying a demountable home in a trailer park on the coast. We lved in the latter for about four years before selling that up and returning to 'house/home-living' status, mostly because of tenancy issues and increasing government regulatory controls.

vanilla said...

Indeed I have had the dubious blessing of living in a trailer house-- 8' x 28' Schultz, circa 1946-- with Mom, Dad and two little sisters on the High Plains. In the winter. I'll stop there; you are so much better at telling a story than I am.

Glad we both survived to recall these "adventures."

btw: Readers, consider this a plug for the "Lert" book. It's great.

Leenie said...


Sibs can get you the worst and can still be there YEARS later to remind you. I know that kind of cold and that kind of twisted humor. It helps to have that kind of humor to survive that kind of cold. GET BETTER!

jenny_o said...

Oh, yes, familiar with trailers and skirting and frozen pipes in winter ... but not the younger siblings, just one older brother who teased me just as badly.

Your sister must have been so happy to get the best of her older sib! I never could, so I threw things instead - rather indiscriminately, I might add.

Great choice of excerpt from your book, Pearl!

Gigi said...

You know, I'd always wished I'd had a sister....am now re-thinking that wish....

Get better soon, Pearl! The new year is calling.

Anonymous said...


You know when I was six I saw a story on TV about a snake that had slithered up someones pipes and coiled itself in the toilet bowl. It was years before I could use the toilet without fear of being snake bitten.

Good luck finding a sibling willing to suck out the poison from down there.

W.C.Camp said...

Ahh if I only had a nickel for every time my kid went looking for me inside the toilet, I would be a rich man!!! Cute story even though we all know you are JUST FLAUNTING your fancy aluminum siding AND the fact that you had a HAIR DRYER!!! Happy New Year! W.C.C.

Cloudia said...

you are a unique voice, Pearl

Happiest New Year wishes
with Warm Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

The Elephant's Child said...

Sad and bad things happened to the sip of wine I had foolisly taken before reading this. Thank you.

I hope the head cold is no longer threatening a take over of Canada.

Crystal Pistol said...

Haha! Sisters are awesome.

I LOVE that you were lookin fur daddy in the toilet. It just felt right given the circumstances. You are not to blame. But it is hilarious nonetheless.

My older girls just saw Sarah's key this weekend. Now my eldest daughter is terrified there is a dead and rotting little boy in her closest at night. My younger daughter hides in the closet to make that fear more real. BOO!

Anonymous said...

Well, I hear that Coghlan, Tillmann, Berriro, own an OD company.
And then I hear that Dassault, owns the explosive company.
And so, when you have ACCOC and "ROCKET MAN", there are a lot of " Mad- Sins" along with " Capessin".
And then you get the GENOTS with DEVONE and there you go.

Pat said...

That brought a grin to my gloomy face:)

savannah said...

these are the stories that make me glad i'm an only child, sugar! ;) xoxoxoxo

Pat Tillett said...

Oh man! Suckered again by a sibling.

Frozen pipes, six month winters (or longer), ice storms, etc.
So why was it again that people settled in your fair state?

WrathofDawn said...

We're very proud of the size of our head colds.


Hope you're feeling better by the time you read this.