• 90°

So glad I was a rascal

Some things are just best settled with a good punch in the mouth.

At least, that’s what I thought when I was growing up.

I lived in a neighborhood of little rascals and a few prissy girls. I soon realized that the boys had more fun than I did walking around in Mama’s highheel shoes and playing paper dolls, so I joined the rascals.

My granny said that if a girl kissed her elbow she would turn into a boy. Try as hard as I could, I couldn’t wrench my arm far enough around to transform myself.

Back then, children did a lot more fighting than they do now. A few kicks in the shin or a pop in the nose would settle most disagreements and we could get on with our playing.

Most of my fisticuffs were with my cousin Jimmy and my rascal friend Betty Kay.

Just looking at each other was all it took for Jimmy and me to tear into each other. We would fight about anything from who had the most lightning bugs in the jar to who could yell more like Tarzan.

Betty Kay and I didn’t need even that much reason. We’d wake up during the night and start fighting in the bed just because we were in the bed with each other. For most all of her life, Betty Kay carried a scar on her lip where I hit her with a doorknob because she wouldn’t give up her turn sweeping.

I wear a scar from where she cut off the tip of my middle finger with the lawn mower.

Back then, we had push mowers that chewed up the grass when the blades were down. When the mower was turned over, the blades were off the ground and wouldn’t turn. Betty Kay and I were taking turns riding on the lawn mower. I went inside to get a glass of Kool-Aid, came back out and perched on the handle for my ride. Well, Betty Kay had turned the mower back over. When I reached to turn the blades and “crank up” the lawn mower, she gave it a push and cut off my finger.

I was hollering and carrying on. Betty Kay was trying to put her hand over my mouth to make me hush so she could be heard screaming that she didn’t do it.

I think a lot about Betty Kay. She lost her battle with cancer in 1994 and I lost a childhood friend – one that shared almost every day of my dirty, grimy little girl life.

Her daughter called me one day to say how much she appreciated hearing the stories about her mother. I hope she was not disappointed that the stories weren’t about little girls in pinafores having tea parties and playing with baby dolls.

No, the stories about “me and Betty Kay” are about making mudpies, catching tadpoles and punching each other in the nose.

That’s what little rascals did back then. I’m glad I was a rascal.