Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chocolate Memories...

My mom's entire family is in Germany. For summer vacations, we'd go visit the family for anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, usually the latter. We could only afford to go every 3 years or so back in the 60's and 70's.

I was almost 5 when I first met my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. I can still vividly remember MANY things about this trip. My cousin, Diana (who was 6 months older than me), and I were inseparable. We had the BEST times together!

I enjoyed staying with her in their home, which was actually in a building that resembled an apartment. They lived on the 2nd of 3 floors. There were 2 families on each floor, a shared basement where each family had a fenced-in storage area, and a large stone "cooking pot" with a wringer for laundry. The shared attic was huge, well-lit by windows that cranked open in the roof, and was empty except for the rows and rows of clothes lines everywhere. Each family was assigned a laundry day and a week that they were responsible for sweeping all 3 levels (including stairs). The apartment buildings were all attached in a row, comprising housing for approximately 30 families.

The people in the apartments pretty much kept to themselves. Directly below Diana's apartment lived a really mean middle-aged woman with her husband. She looked absolutely HUGE to me. Like a linebacker. Or like Miss Trunchbull in "Matilda." Her name was Schmidt, but my family referred to her as "Dicke, fette, Schmitty" (translated: "big fat Schmitty"). She glared. She spied through curtains and that little peephole in her door. She bitched about everything. It was just best to avoid her at all costs, and creep silently past her door on your way out of the building. She scared us kids shitless.

My most favorite times were spent on the balcony, since I had never ever seen one. There wasn't a SINGLE balcony that didn't havebeautiful cascading petunias of many colors. It was simply breathtaking for this little 5 year old. I was also enthralled by the huge colorful sun umbrellas everyone had on their balconies. I had never seen anything like it!

Diana and I would sit on the sprawling back lawn, which had a gently sloping hill facing the apartments. It was perfect for little girls to go rolling down toward the playground. There was a huge sandbox (probably 30'x30'), a few swings and slides, but best of all were the monkey bars. It seems that every little German kid was required to take gymnastics in school. They all had these cute little undergarments that looked like bathing suit bottoms. They would routinely show as the girls in skirts spun over & over the bars. I had underpants envy--BIG time. Turns out, they also coveted MY flowered American undies!

One day as Diana and I sat on the balcony, we decided to have a spitting contest. I don't know why we came up with this, except that it is just what kids DO. We alternately spit off the balcony & were quite impressed with our distance! We'd jump up and grab onto the balcony railing (with hang time) for that extra oomph. We'd laugh ourselves silly.

Then came my near-fatal mistake. Not giving it a second thought, as we were chewing the best chocolate in the entire world, I used the railing to give extra height to my spitwad. Not quite yet a physicist, I didn't realize that chocolate spit was significantly heavier than plain spit. Thus, although it had perfect arc, it flopped straight down. Onto Schmitty's bright yellow sun umbrella.

I swear that time stood still, Matrix-style. If I could have caught that chocolate blob in mid-flight, I would have. I would have leaped over the railing and fallen 2 stories down into the hedge roses to save that beautiful big sunny umbrella. But alas, I was 5 years old. So I did the next best thing. I swore my cousin to secrecy and we got the hell off that balcony.

Later as we were leaving the building with our mothers, who should meet us but Dicke Fette Schmitty? Blocking our path to the front door, with arms and legs akimbo, she proceeded to shriek at our mothers. New to the language, I didn't fully understand all of her words, but there was no mistaking what she meant. I wailed in the foyer as she berated my mother for her shitty parenting skills in raising a chocolate-spitting beast like me.

Once we were down the street, my mother dried my tears and treated me to ice cream as she got both of us to agree to never desecrate that umbrella again.

When I spoke with my cousin many, MANY years later, she told me that Schmitty never DID get that chocolate stain out of that umbrella. Not even an additional 12 years of exposure to the sun got helped. I smiled a little smile, knowing that I was still able to torture Schmitty in perpetuity from across the Atlantic. That old cow!


Blogger Jege (Jen) said...

Damn that Dicke Fette Schmitty! I'm glad you soiled her umbrella.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Lost said...

Hehehehe you left her that gift that just keeps giving LOL

6:04 PM  
Blogger GA girl said...

chocolate, worse than bird poop. Who knew?

8:03 AM  
Blogger Floyd's Lists said...

There is nothing finer in the world than leaving your mark permanently. Well done, Michele.

9:28 AM  

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