Friday, October 23, 2009


Long, long ago, when Itty Bitty Bliss lived in a neighborhood that had no other little girls her age. Her mother would make her older brother drag her around with him and he was good about it for the most part. But there were times when she simply was not welcome in a room full of boys. New people moved to the neighborhood and old people moved away. But most of these did not have children. Itty Bitty Bliss watched moving vans come and go, but no little girls arrived.

However, one day a moving van brought a houseful of children. She dared to hope. The next day when her mother and friends met for coffee, a new mom magically appeared. Itty Bitty Bliss sat on the stairs and peeked through the banister. Wow. The new mom was BIG. That was interesting but more so was the tiny boy who sat at the huge woman’s feet. Itty Bitty Bliss’s mom called her down to the living room. She stood back, pressed against mom’s legs as introductions were made.

“This is Gregory. Why don’t you take him outside and show him your trucks.” Suggested Bliss’s mother. The frail little boy rose to his feet and quietly followed Itty Bitty Bliss outside to the back yard. He stood in awe of the village under the orange tree. Roads carefully lined with black walnut shells swirled in and out of the moldy and rotting orange carcasses.

“Oh wow.” He said enthusiastically and sank to his knees to grasp the tiny yellow dump truck in the road closest to him. He leaned forward and drove it toward the orange tree trunk. Itty Bitty Bliss stood back and watched. When it was clear that Gregory was involved, she sank to her knees next to him to drive the small bulldozer into a lane close by. Gregory nodded his approval. That decided it. They would be best friends. There would be many roads to blade here and tunnels to dig with soup spoons through the roots of the fir trees in Gregory’s yard. Eventually a super highway of interchanges wound their way between the two houses. All day long Gregory and Itty Bitty Bliss played.

Mothers back then did not often work. They did housework, which is a quite a job. Especially in a Catholic neighborhood full of families with at least 6 kids or more. The laundry alone could exhaust you. Five children occupied the Bliss home and six occupied Gregory’s home. He was next to the youngest. She was the family baby.

Daily mothers would gather together in houses that rotated for coffee.

One fine morning, Gregory and Itty Bitty Bliss sat at the women's feet as they chatted and sipped on the patio outside Greg's house. Talk turned around a corner not welcome to children. Neither Itty Bitty Bliss or Gregory noticed the content, but the mothers excused themselves to go inside and glass and wood French doors were shut firmly behind them. Later, when Gregory would desperately try the knob, he found them locked. Meanwhile inside, the mothers gossiped about the husband who had run off with his secretary…subject matter not fit for small pitchers with big ears.

Outside Gregory began to shuffle. The shuffle began to change into a nervous dance step, followed by some high stepping action and a bit of side to side shambling. Finally Gregory stuck his hand between his legs and grabbed on…

“I gotta go!” he whined.

Itty Bitty Bliss knocked on the glass pane. Gregory’s mother stomped to the door. It opened a crack and she hissed “What?”

“I gotta go!” Gregory repeated. The mom looked at him with a grimace.

“Go on the side of the garage.” His mother advised before shutting and locking the door.

Gregory and Itty Bitty Bliss looked at each other. Itty Bitty could see that her friend was nearly in pain. He ran to the side of the garage and looked down the space that ran next to the wall. It was long, narrow and filled with tall weeds. A garden spider had woven a web across the way from the garage to the fence on the opposite side.

“I gotta go.” Gregory said with a whine. The two ran back to the porch and he pounded on the door. When his mother stomped to the door at last, she only repeated her instruction to use the side of the garage. Itty Bitty Bliss shrugged. What was the big deal?

“You better go.” she advised him. Greg looked back mortified. He leaned close and whispered.

“I gotta poop.”

Well, that certainly changed things. One did not squat in the yard like an animal and poop. Everyone knew that! Desperation filled Gregory’s eyes. He looked as if he was about to burst into tears. Then he spied the coffee pot. His mother’s bran new Farber Wear Electric percolator. Itty Bitty Bliss got an uncomfortable feeling… She looked at the cord, now unplugged, that lay like a tiny tail on the step. Earlier the mothers had sat here on the porch drinking coffee and admiring the new coffee pot.

Gregory grimly removed the lid and dropped his shorts. Itty Bitty Bliss could not look and turned her face away. She did not look back until she heard Gregory replace the lid. His shorts were returned to their proper location and all looked right with the world. Itty Bitty Bliss sighed. Gregory’s mother peered out the window and both children jumped. She tapped a bent knuckle on the glass… a warning to stay out of trouble.

“She’s going to kill you.” Itty Bitty Bliss announced. Gregory solemnly nodded. It was true. His impending death was just a matter of time.

“What can I do?” he asked, like the man who knows his wife knows about the secretary. Itty Bitty looked at the coffee pot and then to the sad face of her best ever friend in the whole wide world.

“Bury it to the devil.” Her face was set in a serious line.

Gregory nodded at the wisdom. Together they carried it to the fir tree. Soup spoons waited in the fertile soil. Together they dug and dug and dug… until a hole large enough to accept the coffee pot was excavated. Gregory carefully laid it on its side in the hole, careful not to allow the lid to come ajar.

“Greg…or….reeeeee!” his mother called behind them. The pair jumped and quickly used their forearms to sweep as much dirt over the coffee pot as they could. When they stood up, Greg faced Itty Bitty Bliss and nodded. Itty Bitty Bliss declared “All to the Devil and none to God!” then they both stomped on the dirt to seal the deal. Itty Bitty Bliss was free to run to the safety of her home. As she peeked back over her shoulder, Gregory slowly moved toward his mother.

Years passed and on occasion conversation would turn to the mystery of the missing coffee pot and who might have stolen it but only Itty Bitty Bliss, Gregory , God and the Devil know for sure.


  1. This is funny now in retrospect, but that poor child should've been allowed inside to go to the bathroom. I'll bet Gregory still breaks out in a cold sweat when he sees a coffee pot.

  2. I read this out loud to my husband who is awake uncharacteristically early. We laughed. Me at a memory of a too familiar story. He at his own secret stories of childhood.
    When I finished reading the story and we both laughed ourselves silly, my husband proclaimed: "That's really good writing. Which Vonnegut book is that from?"
    Told you so, Ananda.

  3. Oh man. What a story. Funny and sad - you could have dug the hole for his poop! But I guess there was no time... oh my...

  4. Cube-- YOu may be right. Greg and I ran into each other awhile back (only 20 or so years ago) and were laughing about it.

    We had several moms in our neighborhood who locked their kids out all day and only let them in for meals. Drove my mother nuts.

    BTW I have no clue why I did not take him to my house... our door was never locked.

  5. Haha I love this story! Good stuffs! It sure beats the tuna tunes you used to sing to us.

  6. Peggy-- Well thank you. I glad you got a good laugh out of it.

    But I'm not where near that marvelous old bastard. ;-)

  7. Pamela-- There is no accounting for the logic of children. It made perfect sense at the time. ha

  8. thebear-- What??? You do not love your tuna tunes?

    Bum...bum..bumble bee... bumble bee tuna... I love bumble bee...

    Come on sing it with me Bear!

    Would you rather sing the Starkissed one?

  9. What a great story. You should save all of these up and make a book out of them. I'm sure it would sell.

  10. Thanks Churlita! That's very nice of you to say.

  11. Pamela said:

    "Oh man. What a story. Funny and sad - you could have dug the hole for his poop!"

    But it is not the same unless the hole is lined with an expensive coffee pot.

  12. dmarks-- Ha! Funny when you think about it that way! And really that was the way it happened. Kids do strange things.

  13. That is awesome! Love the story. Thanks!

  14. When I was little, adults seemed to have a lot of trouble convincing little boys that they shouldn't just "go outside" like that, unless they were way out in the woods. On the other hand, they had equal trouble getting us little girls to "go outside" like that even when we were way out in the woods. No camping for me. I didn't even like more private areas of the lake.

    Anyway, with all the trouble I saw other parents having that problem with the little boys having "accidents" and getting caught "watering" other people's gardens and such, I wonder was wrong with that woman that she was so into her gossip that she actually told the little kid to do that and locked him out of the house so that he didn't have a choice.

    Having worked in downtown Fort Worth, I have seen men that never grew out of that "going outside" business. And not just at night when they're out drunk with their friends. We saw a guy "watering" a telephone pole right under the stop light, right about lunch time.

    Not the greatest thing to see right at lunch time.

  15. 3GirlKnight-- You're welcome! Glad you enjoyed it.

  16. laughing-- I was like you... as a little girl if there wasn't a bathroom I'd rather die holding it.

    Yeah... I've seen that too. Ha.

    I don't know if it was the year or what, but back then a lot of moms were that way.

  17. I can't help laughing. I mean, as a mom, I feel for that small boy...but the other parts of me got a good giggle :-)

  18. laura b.-- Thanks! Gregory was such a funny and fun kid. Sort of like the kid in the Gooneys who had the inhaler. He was constantly on the verge of some sort of breakdown. His mom's idea of lunch was to squirt Hershey's syrup in a giant can of peanut butter and give us all spoons. The rest of the family looked like the girl who ate the blueberry in Willy Wonka... big round ticks, but Gregory was a stick and I was always afraid one of them would sit on him and snap him to pieces.

    As a friend, he was the best!

  19. OMG! hilarious! serves Gregory's mother right...

  20. Sebastien-- You're right... it did serve her right! I've never thought about that before, I like it.

  21. Sorry it took me so long to get over here and read this! Great little story. Hilarious!

  22. oh poor gregory but what a hilarious story it makes today! and hey, a true best friend is one who helps you poop in the coffee percolator and then bury it! lol

  23. Suldog-- Thanks and feel free to take all the time you need. Funch abides.

  24. lime-- That's how it measured up in my neighborhood!

    I cannot stress what a wonderful kid and friend Gregory was and so funny! My life went from quiet to riot in a flash when Gregory moved in. That day... seeing him there at his mom's tree trunk ankles, is one of the most vivid memories in my head.