Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Up In The Attic

I remember the terror I felt as a child standing at the bottom of the stairs leading up into our attic. Darkness at the top, strange shapes, a musty odor. We pulled a string above our heads about half-way up the stairs to get the light on up there. Getting up to that step, where we could reach for the string, was truly frightening. So much darkness. Monsters undoubtedly waiting. Who knew what would get us? Once we were up there, with the lights on, things were OK. But the terror began again coming down the stairs. I’d pull that string, and then, heart-pounding, race down the remaining stairs in the darkness, never daring to look back, until I slammed the door behind me. Phew, that was close!

For me, memories of our attic are inextricably tied with another memory from childhood. One Christmas morning, in the 1950's, my mother was waiting for her favorite moment - opening the gift from Dad's millionaire friend, Norman Woolworth, a great practical joker. Often Woolworth's gifts were something elegant and luxurious, and this one - packaged in a large hat box - looked wonderfully promising. My mother was down on her knees under the tree, with the whole family gathered around. She was breathless with anticipation. She tore off the wrapping paper, lifted the lid, and out of the package, like a springing jack-in-the-box, popped a hot-pink, foam rubber bath mat. It was covered with realistic life-sized pink breasts, topped with erect, cherry red nipples. Mom shrieked "Oh Tom!" and stuffed that thing back into the box, clapping on the lid. We had all see it, and couldn't believe our eyes. We begged to see it again, but it disappeared after that one tantalizing moment. For years afterwards I searched the attic for it, convinced that it must be stored away somewhere up there, but I never found it. I think my father must have taken it to the dump. Mom would have insisted.

6 comments:

TDharma said...

now THAT is funny! where in the heck do you buy a bathmat like that?

I bought a friend a joke gift a couple of years back -- a glow in the dark baby Jesus sex toy -- which he opened in front of his unsuspecting mother! oops! That lil' gift went back into its box right quick, too.

Sigrid Jardin said...

I wish I knew where to buy a bathmat like that! I think they'd be popular items. Now that baby Jesus sex toy, that I would have loved to see, especially in front of Mama! That's hilarious!

Rexroth's Daughter said...

I wasn't afraid of the attic, it didn't hold the same nightmarish monsters as our old coal cellar did. We had a name for the monster that lived in the cellar, he was called Boogie (soft "g"). All my cousin had to say was "Boogie, Boogie" in a scary voice, and we would all run from the cellar door.

I must say we never saw gifts exchanged like that when I was growing up. I bet that was quite a moment for your parents. My parents were parenting in the 50s, and they did their best to pretend that breasts and nipples did not exist. And, neither did penises for that matter!

Dotty Stripes said...

Thanks for sharing this family values moment! Oh, I wish I could see that titty rug. Inspiration for a future painting? You could paint the whole Christmas scene, maybe in the style of Norman Rockwell!

adagio said...

Thank god for a mother who did not hide her body from her two children. And a father with whom we showered, gazing up from our pre-school vantage point at daddy's willy! We did not have an attic.

Patry Francis said...

Sign me up for one of those bath mats! What a great story.