I’m trying to write outside today. Not so sure how it’s going to work out but here goes…
My siblings and I were sometimes begrudgingly dragged to get-togethers when we were kids. We were usually steeped in our culture especially over the weekend. We greeted people, smiled politely, laughed, replied, and accepted some of the things that were happening around us. Parental questioning was usually allowed after the parties. There were many subtle nuances that I had to learn since I was the youngest in the family.
I grew up in an urban area. My mom still encouraged me to learn how to grow plants. I went outside daily, watering my corn plant. It was fascinating watching it grow from a tiny little thing to just above my twiggy ankles and then to the height of my scrawny waist.
After all that watering, its stalk eventually sprung up and had nearly passed the top of my head. There were even two ears of corn growing now. I ran and asked mom if it was ready to be picked and she told me it probably wasn’t ready yet. I imagined the silk beyond the husk slowly yet very purposefully assembling each and every grain of corn. Finally, as summer was nearing its end, I was told that I could soon pick my corn and it would be ready to eat.
Most years at the end of summer, our final family trip was to the amusement park. On the morning of the trip, I snuck out and watered my corn. I was full blown obsessing over it but, I also didn’t want to hear that it wasn’t ready to eat yet. Against the wall, behind my corn was a twin-size bed board. I paused to wonder when it had been placed there. Oh well, I ran to the front yard and got in the car with my siblings. Dad drove us all to the amusement park.
After going on a few rides the sky went dark, then it rained, and got really windy. We were told by the park “authorities” that a storm would be passing through some nearby towns. We continued with our fun regardless, especially since we knew the storm wasn’t going to touch us at the theme park.
Then we left a little early to stop at Michael Jackson’s house. Call me a liar all you want! We were specifically told that after the theme park we were going to meet Michael Jackson. So, the obvious never even occurred to me.
When we got to Michael Jackson’s house, our parents stood tall behind us all. My older brother and sisters were such skeptics but, I saw them glimpse as the door opened slowly. Hi, how are you? Come in! The amount of disinterest and disappointment that rushed through me was palpable. My siblings pretended that they didn’t share my feelings but I knew they did. He was so far from being Michael Jackson that I’m positive he saw the disappointment on every child’s face. Before you start feeling sorry for him consider this; I’m sure he was used to it with a name like that! And, he most likely had used his name to his advantage more than once in his life. The visit dragged on as usual. Eventually, we all went home.
As soon as we got home from the house of disappointment, I rushed to the backyard to check on my corn. Only I didn’t see it. There was nothing there. Absolutely nothing. I turned around thinking I missed something but still there was nothing. Until I remembered that stupid bed board! I immediately heard echoes of the park authorities saying, “storms in some nearby towns.” I hadn’t even thought that they meant in our own backyard! The board had been swept sideways by the wind. It had efficiently squeezed every bit of lively hood out of my corn. All that was left were the tassels of stringy golden silk just beyond the edge of the bed board. They were squished into the mud. My shoes slipped and I fell into the mud as tears streamed down my face. I used all of my strength and tried to pry the board off my corn. My corn had been nurtured from seedling to squashed! But I wasn’t about to give up. I ran inside and yelled for help. Mom came outside explaining how sorry she was. She also explained that there was no way of knowing that a storm like that blah blah blah! I couldn’t really hear over my tears as I sobbed. She then explained something else inaudible about it not being garbage day yet and that there wasn’t anywhere else to put it. Whatever she said it didn’t console me. Still, every time I see corn growing in a field it brings me back to that dark, rainy, windy afternoon.
Love corn will never grow it!
But, I will always have the story of when I met Michael Jackson.