Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 3-25-13

Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

There’s a bunch of ways to pull legs … as in wryly, slyly poking fun. I mention this as many years ago my entire family’s legs were pulled — by my sister. (Remember that I’m older than dirt, so early memories are stronger than yesterday’s activities).

Around the dinner table, sister (we’ll call her Rosie) said she’d been shopping and got caught pilfering an item in the local five and dime. (Now Rosie has always been the arbiter of doing exactly what’s right, upfront, honest, straight-forward … and a total sober-sides. Joking and pranks are not in her lexicon of talents).

As you can imagine, all eyes (that would be two brothers, another sister and two parents) stopped eating in mid chew to stare at Rosie.

“What?” asked Mother parent.

“You did what?” asked Father parent.

“I sorta forgot and put a lipstick in my pocket,” said Rosie. “The store monitors saw me start to leave and told me to go to the manager’s office. I was really scared, but I went along. When I got there, the manager was sitting behind his desk, his hands steepled together and an awful frown on his face.”

I can tell you that our Mother was horrified; her mouth hung open. Of course, Father started breathing fire out both nostrils. (The prevailing principle in our family was: one does not lie, cheat or steal!)

“So what happened?” asked Brother Number One, eyes gleaming with mischief.

“He told me to sit down,” said Rosie. “So I sat in a chair opposite his desk. He stared at me. Then his phone rang. He answered and spoke to someone who apparently needed something. The manager stood up and told me to stay where I was. He said he’d be back shortly to deal with me. Then he left the office through a side door instead of the one into the hall.”

“You shoulda cut outta there once he left,” said Brother Number Two.

“I tried,” said Rosie, “but he locked both office doors as he left. But then, I saw the transom.”

(For those who may not be familiar, know that older buildings had transoms above the doors. These were horizontal windows, the width of the door, that could be opened or closed.)

“You saw the transom,” parroted my Mother.

“Uh- huh,” said Rosie. “I dragged a chair over and stood on it. I could just reach the edge. I started pulling myself up, thinking it would be easy to slide through and drop down the other side.”

“Holy cow,” chorused the Brothers. “Did you get out?”

“Well, I might have, but just then the manager came back into the office through the side door.”

“Really!” exclaimed our Mother. “What did he do?”

“Well,” said Rosie, and paused to eat another bite of supper while the rest of us simply stared, glared or held our breaths.

“WELL WHAT!” thundered our Father.

Rosie took a drink of water (slowly), patted her lips with her napkin (slowly) and then offered, “Well, he started pulling my leg … just like I’m doing with you.”

Many, many, many seconds went by. Then the Brothers whooped; the Parents guffawed; the Other Sister giggled, holding her sides. I merely stared, dumbfounded.

I remain convinced an alter alien-type individual impersonated Rosie that evening. ❖


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