in his backyard haven

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Espionage and Counter Intelligence

Back in the 1980s we lived in Sherwood Arkansas. Our oldest sister, Liz was in high school and on the dating scene. I, four years her younger, was in junior high, in the awkward stage of development and apparently considered Dad's person "Bourne".

Dad was vigilant about keeping tabs on Liz's dating scene. I shared a room with her, so I occasionally found myself being interrogated and feeling guilt. Even though I never could understand what I did wrong.

One Saturday night during movie hour with our VHS tapes, Dad declared to me that it was time to clean the fish bowl. Huh????

What I learned is that he couldn't care less about the fish. Dad wanted the dirty fish water. He liked to use it to water plants. This night in particular he needed to water the plants on the front porch.

Do you think it was coincidental that the front porch housed the infamous "Porch Swing"? Guess who was out there? Liz. With her date.

Yes, I was used. I had to ferry out fish water to Dad so that he could meander around the porch swing and make his presence known to some poor boy from Catholic High.

Fast forward a few months. I suddenly find myself getting lectured about why I should never sit on a boy's lap. I really couldn't understand this. I didn't even have a boyfriend, much less understand why his lap mattered so much. I do get it now. I didn't get it then.

Another Saturday night. Liz was out on a date. Curfew time was approaching. Again, I was solicited by Dad. This time I was sent to the garage. We had those garage doors where there was a row of windows at the top. You could only see out of them if you were on a ladder or on top of the car.

"Molly, get out there and sit on top of the car. Let me know when Liz pulls in with her date." ordered Dad.

I dutifully obeyed. I checked in with home base. Liz and her date have arrived. I received the next set of orders:

"Watch their heads Molly. You should always see two heads in that car. If at any point you do NOT see two heads, you need to come in and let me know."

I will admit it now: I'm a pretty good sleeper. I can sleep anywhere. Anytime. Yes, I slept on top of the car that night in the garage. Who knows how long. I never observed Liz.

Liz, I have no idea if there was ever only one head visible in that car that night. Nor do I want to know now. I just want to come clean. I was used. I was CIA. I understand now why you made me sleep in the closet when you were on the phone with your boyfriends. Just take it up with Dad, please.

Dad, I kindly request that you upgrade your surveillance to actual cameras.


  1. HA HA - lol! If only we had the parent manual in tech data format! This one could go into the top of the advice column!

    I don't remember - maybe didn't know about you sleeping on top of the car but I DO have fond memories of that red porch swing!
    thanks! :)

  2. Oh my gosh!! This is hilarious. I had always heard something about the fish water story. I never knew about the garage and sleeping on top of the car. I feel like we had different dads. Of course he was going through his first teen daughter. I never had to spy on Amy, but I always did anyway.

    Molly, I remember walking in on you and your boyfriend in high school (in CA) making out on your bed. You were supposed to leave your door open, and it was ajar, so I walked on in. When I saw you guys, I crept back out. Lucky for you I never told. :P

  3. WELL YOU DID NOW! LOL! Welcome to parenthood - ha ha!

  4. It's Liz late to the party.
    Completely true. I knew all about the espionage. I remember being mortified when he needed to clean the fish bowl while I was out with my date. Here's the funny part. Maybe because I was the oldest or most vocal about "my rights", but Mom and Dad kept an eagle eye on me. But through out high school I pretty much followed all the rules. I waited until college to let loose. But my siblings, especially Joe and Molly when they were in HS were another matter. The parties...I could really go on. I knew what they were up to, but I kept all the attention on myself. Thank you, your welcome!

  5. Katie - first of all the only reason I don't have any dirt on you and boys is because I didn't live there when you were "of age". Secondly, I have better dirt on all of you.
    Liz - Joe was the partier. I was an accomplish, partnering in clean up, but rarely the instigator.