Kentucky and I decided that our new hobby was pranking people, starting with the frat boys that we worked with at the greenhouse. They had made a habit out of occasionally attempting to crudely flirt with us and then going back to ignoring our existence completely. We preferred the latter, but were insulted by both. Our least favorite thing they had taken up, however, was their constant rambling about how much more work they did than us. Evidently by "work" they meant "taking naps on the couch and showing up late with a hangover". I might add that this rambling was peppered with sexist comments regarding the intelligence of women (or lack thereof), their place in the world, and what they were "good for".
These comments were unacceptable. So, we watched Curtis and Shorty. We learned their habits. Amongst other things, they had a routine going. Every day at lunch time, they would place their water bottles (the ones they carried with them to rehydrate throughout the day) in the fridge and then they would get in their cars and drive away for lunch.
Interesting. Very interesting.
So, on one Saturday excursion to a mountain river, we spent the afternoon catching minnows and crawdads to take home with us. It was a successful trip.
Monday we executed our plan. We waited until the boys left, and then we crept past Bob who was "asleep" on the couch, over to the fridge, and swiped the water bottles. On our way back out, Bob lifted the brim of his hat towards us momentarily, winked, and then pulled the whole hat down over his face to hide the fact that he was grinning from ear to ear and suppressing the occasional giggle.
Once back in the Hanwell's house, we ran to the bathroom, grabbed the bags of minnows and crawdads and began pouring them into the bottles. It was a little tricky until Genevieve came running in with a funnel to make things easier. She prayed over our prank and off we went to put the bottles right back where we had found them.
It went more beautifully than we could have hoped. In the fridge, the bottles went all foggy with condensation, so when the boys came back and took them out, they didn't see or suspect a thing.
Kentucky and I were gleefully planting bright, Dr. Suess-like flowers in squares behind the University Center when Polly came running over, ranting about how Curtis had swallowed a minnow, and Shorty had gotten a crawdad claw stuck to his bottom lip and would have to have it surgically removed. She said whoever did this could be in big trouble.
Of course, she said this because she knew exactly what was up and who was to blame. Right after she saw the color drain from our faces, she burst out laughing and said no. Nobody was in trouble, but Curtis really did swallow and minnow, Shorty really did get a crawdad stuck to his lip, and the best part was that they had no idea it was us. She promised not to tell.
When we got back to the greenhouse that afternoon, Shorty and Curtis were blaming Daffy and Devon. Devon was blaming Bob, and Bob was laughing hysterically. Hallie said with a sparkle in her eye, "What about Sarah and Kentucky? You haven't even bothered to question them."
Curtis let loose a guffaw, "The girls?! Yeah right! What girl would be smart enough to pull off something like that?"
And Shorty chimed in with, "Chyeah, besides, what girl would ever touch a crawdad, much less catch one??"
They went away shaking their heads in disbelief. Kentucky and I made a point not to look at each other, lest we lose our composure and give ourselves away.
Banjo started to see us as pranksters, and as an unexpected result of this, he assumed it was me when Rosie started putting his windshield wipers up every chance she got. To get back at me, he T.P.ed my car. I found this entertaining and in retaliation, did nothing.
Scarlett, however, accidentally left the dome light on in their Jeep all night. It didn't start in the morning when Banjo wanted to go to school. He thought I had messed with the starter, so he avenged his car's battery death by sticking a tacky bumper sticker on my Camry. The exchange that took place when I entered the kitchen that evening went like this:
"Hey Sarah! I like your new bumper sticker!"
That evening, I pulled Scarlett aside and asked her permission to glue things to the dashboard of their car to win the prank war Banjo had unknowingly started. She loved the idea, so I proceeded to super glue plastic dinosaurs and ancient plastic jungle trees and ferns to Banjo's dashboard.
When he found it, he came in laughing so hard he could barely breath, gasping, "I'm so glad you added the ferns! Without them it was just some dinosaurs, but with them it was Jurassic Park!"
Another day, we went back to the river where Kentucky and I had gathered crawdads and minnows as a church. Banjo and Scarlett and the rest of us. We were going to sit on the rocks and try to draw something to sort of symbolize what church meant for us. There had been lots of talk and banter among us about the safety of tree-houses, strength of trees, our confidence in God's Hands to hold us and His love to push our own human love through the ceilings it inevitably hits.
That day, at the River, we all wound up drawing pictures that incorporated all these things. Every drawing had a tree made sturdy by hands, a tree-house, and a heart in the trunk, roots, or branches.
This one was mine
Genevieve drew this one
Last but not least, Kentucky's
Scarlett finished her drawing and decided to go for a walk. She hadn't gotten 10 yards when we heard her shout, "Look!"
She had found directly in her path a system of roots that had grown around a rock. It just so happened that the rock was shaped like a perfect heart.
A few days later, Kentucky notified me of two things. The first was that Genevieve and Jim's Anniversary was swiftly approaching. The second was that she had a brilliant idea. We could build a little model tree-house with the tree and the hands and the heart and everything. For their Anniversary!
I was too excited. All day at the greenhouse, we talked about it. Yanking a weed out of the ground, one of us would say, "Yes! And a candle in the middle to represent..." and the other would say, "We can make little curtains even, and..."
By the time our work was through, we again chose activity over hygiene and went straight upstairs to cut and sew and glue and use pipe cleaners in all manner of tree-building innovation.
Finally after hours of effort and re-dos and crafty excitement, we heard the front door close. It could only mean one thing. Genevieve was home. The glue was dry enough, we figured. In our exuberance, we clamored down the stairs. Kentucky held a branch. I held a root. We burst into the kitchen laughing and blushing and explaining and proud, holding our accomplishment out for Genevieve.
But as soon as we made it into the kitchen, I stopped short. Sitting there on the computer like everything was normal, was Eddie.
I was distracted again for a moment by the thing Kentucky and I were handing over and by how much Genevieve loved it, and us. Eddie had on an expression that I couldn't read.
We all migrated to the living room and sat. Kentucky and I on the couch, Eddie in the rocking chair on the other side of the room, Genevieve bridging the gap.
He was still wearing his yarn. He said halfway through camp it had started smelling, so he unraveled it, washed it, and then put it back on.
I tried to look cool, sitting on the arm of the couch, like I didn't care that he was in front of us.
Then he off-handedly mentioned Maggie. His girlfriend.
Before I could catch myself, I rolled my eyes. Then I blushed. I hoped he hadn't noticed either accidental action, but with my luck, he had noticed both.
He had met Maggie at camp. They were team leaders together. He really liked her, but he didn't get why she wore sneakers with her jeans.
Also, he had stopped by because he wanted to invite us to his graduation that was happening the next day. We promised we'd be there, and just like that, he was gone again.
At least the next day, I had warning that I was going to see him. I had time to take a shower. We all traipsed over to the Ramsey Center, where the graduation was to be held.
On the way over, Genevieve asked me how I was doing. I sighed and said I was fine, though truly I felt a bit punched in the gut. She whispered to me, "You know, he could go from here to Timbuktu, but he'll never find anyone as wonderful as you!"
I couldn't help smiling a little. Genevieve had rhymed for me. On purpose.
At the graduation, the lady they chose to give the "inspirational speech" apparently decided to use the opportunity to whine to a captive audience about how much it sucked to be her age and still not married. Banjo leaned over and whispered, "Hey, let's have a competition to see who gets goosebumps first!". But even though we all routinely checked our forearms for goosebumps, it was to no avail. Lady was boring.
The best part was when Eddie was called to go across the stage, and Banjo threw his fist in the air shouting, "AMERICA!"
Eddie came over afterwards and took us to meet his grandmother. We then took him outside so we could spray him down with silly string and do a dance of joy.
He apologized for never writing me back when I sent him a message. I asked why, and he said that he was just never good at responding, but he promised that he liked receiving them. I told him that if he wanted, I would write to him, and I would expect no response. He said that would be fine with him.
Again, we said goodbye. Every so often, I would send him something I learned at the greenhouse or an update on how things were with the Hanwells. Like when Kentucky and I came home with a puppy for Genevieve.
But there is always a kind of despair in writing letters that you know will never be responded to. My stubborn little self, though, doggedly continued to press forward, believing there was a reason.