Monday, July 27, 2009

Carriage Story

I have a history of claiming I'll tell stories later, then never returning to them. So, to distract myself from unhappy realities, I'm actually going to tell you one of those stories. Gather 'round, Boys and Girls, and I'll tell you the story of the shopping carriage.

Twelve years ago, almost, my baby brother spent a couple of days with me while I was a junior in college. After more than two and a half years in MA, we were finally moving back to NH. Our house was supposed to have been completed before he started high school, but it wasn't, and it was going to be a couple of days into the school year before my mom could rent a place. Anyway, I had a bored fourteen-year-old on my hands for 48 hours, so he wouldn't miss the first two days of school.

Colleen, Kristia and just about everyone else was busy one of those days, but Sarah suggested that we take a walk to Mill Pond and see the swans (Mill Pond is the technical name, but most people called in Swan Pond). Vynce seemed game enough, so off we went. Most of you probably aren't the least bit familiar with the UNH campus, but you access the road the pond is on through the rear of a parking lot for the grocery store plaza. As we were going through, Vynce saw a shopping carriage at the far end of the lot and began pushing it. Of course we told him not to. And as you can imagine, this made him more determined to tick us off by bringing it with us.

So there we went, arguing with him the whole time that he should bring the carriage back. Nothing doing. He still had it when we arrived at the pond, half a mile away. As soon as we got there, we firmly told him not to get any ideas about pushing the carriage into the pond. I don't know about Sarah, but I'll admit that it wasn't just doing my big sister duty: I was curious to see what he'd do.

We'd brought so bread with us, so Sarah and I headed around a copse of trees to feed the ducks and swans, and Vynce declared he'd stay were the benches were. (there'd been an incident with the swans earlier - he and they weren't on particularly good terms) As we fed the birds, we heard thumping noises, and popped back around a couple of times to see what he was doing, which was sitting on a bench, pushing the carriage forward a few inches, and pulling it back. We repeated our demand that he not push it into the water, and he waved us off.

A couple of minutes later, we wandered back and sat on the other bench. He continued to push the carriage back and forth, watching us. Then suddenly, he gave it a huge shove instead and it went careening down the hill into the water. It only went in about two feet, so the rest of it stuck out of the water quite conspicuously.

The look he gave us was half astonished, and half worried. "I didn't push it!" He yelled suddenly. "It rolled in!"

And that, Boys and Girls, is when Sarah and I lost our composure. Neither of us expected such an explanation, and we laughed so hard that tears streamed down our faces, and we couldn't breathe, so we collapsed on the bench. This was quite obviously not the reaction my brother expected, so the confused look on his face set us off further.

Eventually we calmed down enough to force him to take off his socks and shoes and pull the carriage back out of the water. He was still smaller than me at that point, so the image of this little kid swearing and working hard to pull the thing out of the muck was pretty funny too. When he was done we waited for him to put his shoes back on and tried to think of what to do with the wet, dirty carriage. No worries, Vynce had an idea.

He pushed it all the way back to the store: but every time we encountered another person, he bragged about how he'd done "a good deed" by pulling a carriage out of the pond. As you can imagine, this earned him the praise of the elderly passersby. We told him that he couldn't claim that it was a good deed because he'd been the idiot to push it in, but he insisted that didn't matter, and it was a good deed. Do you have any idea how hard it was to keep a straight face as he kept repeating this story?

At last the purloined carriage was returned, and no one seemed to think it was odd that a boy was pushing a carriage full of wet weeds and mud into the parking lot.

"I'm so tired of everything I am, breaking promises to myself while I pretend, writing letters in my mind that I'll never send" - Silverline, Letters Never Sent

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