My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


My son and I went to our local D’Angelo’s sandwich shop recently, as it is one of his favorite places to eat. Since I drink a lot of water, I had to go to the men’s room, as usual. As I was washing my hands I noticed one of those “Employees MUST wash their hands” signs. Ya think? There’s probably some state law that says that all restaurants have to put one of those signs in the restrooms, but do we really need a law to tell food handling employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom? Shouldn’t everybody be washing their hands before they leave the bathroom? That is something I was taught as a child and have now taught my kids to do.

As a matter of fact, when I was a kid, washing my hands after using the bathroom might turn into an extended play time. I’d bring some of my little army men and my GI Joe action figure (boys didn’t play with dolls even then) into the bathroom with me, fill up the sink with water and make up all kinds of scenarios. Sometimes they were all just having fun, going swimming in some lake. I’d line them up around the sides of the sink and each one would take a turn jumping in. The more daring men would jump off the cup holder or the soap dish, sometimes doing amazing dives with five or six flips before they hit the water. Sometimes the little army men were the bad guys and GI Joe would come and wipe them all out, throwing them into the water with loud screams and splashes. Sometimes GI Joe was the evil giant and all the good little army men would fight him until he plummeted to his death in the cold water below, but not before a few of the good guys met their demise there, too.

I would also take some of my Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars in with me and play with them in the sink. Sometimes one of the drivers would take a turn too fast, skid around the corner and then drop from the cliff into the ocean below, screaming until the car hit the water. Sometimes the sink was just a big car wash and nobody got hurt or died! Of course, those episodes were not as fun or exciting as the others. And of course I had to do the sound effects. The conversations of the participants, the shots being fired, the tires screeching and the men screaming until they hit the water, mostly done out loud but sometimes only in my head. When the water got too dirty or started getting too cold, I’d put all the guys in the sink, open the drain plug and they’d all fight for their lives as all but one or two got sucked to their death in the whirlpool.

Then I’d refill the sink with water and…usually Mom would come to the bathroom door and ask, “Are you puddling?” That’s what she called our playing in the bathroom sink, puddling. She’d let us puddle for a while and have some fun, but not with multiple sinks full of water. You see, we had only one bathroom for all eleven of us, so someone would want to use the bathroom at some point. And if not, Mom wasn’t going to let us waste that much water. She must have noticed me go in there, heard the toilet flush and the water running in the sink and me not coming out. So when I ran the water the second time – which could have been five minutes or fifty minutes, I was totally lost in the moment and really don’t know how long it was – that was enough time and water for her.  

Most likely Mom wasn’t too mad, though. I probably had the cleanest hands, army men, GI Joe and toy cars in the neighborhood. Something a Mom could be proud of. Unfortunately, we, as a family, almost certainly had the highest water bill in the neighborhood. I guess you take the good with the bad. These days I don’t have any little green army men and my GI Joe action figure is long gone, but every so often while I’m washing my hands I’ll let the soap or the toothpaste take a dive into the lake below. And they’ll be screaming all the way down until they hit the water with a final splash!


  1. i laughed out loud Joe. This is your best yet.
    Love you

  2. Thanks, I appreciate that.