Meanwhile, back in suburbia where mean fought heated wars over whose lawn looked the greenest and whose garden was the best, the real battles were fought on the lines, where each day was another day when the clothes were hung from the lines, everyone could see what was going on in everyone else’s hone. There was a truce for many years and the pure white sheets waved in the air as everyone had already surrendered, like France on a nice warm day. But eventually someone bought colored sheets and the world was never the same again; the war begun to escalate out of control.
Okay, it wasn’t nearly that bad, but it was weird to the point even kids thought it was weird. Kids flat do not care what anyone is wearing or how fat anyone’s butt is. Well, okay, very small children don’t. Back in my neighborhood in Blakely Georgia the women did all the housework while the men went to work, and Leave it to Beaver was considered fact, not fiction. But the women kept up with whose what was hanging where, and if someone had to go out and buy new undies because the old ones where getting smaller with each wash, uh huh, then the lines would be bare of undies and everyone would know, truly know, that weight had been gained.
This was all, of course, far out of the realm of mu concern, because I was before the age where such things made sense. How large or how small a woman was did not matter to me then, and I wonder at what point in my life size did start to matter. Regardless of how exciting suburbia might be made to look on television in years to come, the secrete on Westveiw Drive were hidden safely away between the sheets, oh no, not that you of the dirty mind, I mean between the sheets drying on the line. Women would usually have three parallel lines, and the undies were hung on the middle, on sheet day, so as not to be discovered as easily. It was to be years before I understood this, and look back on it now, it is very funny to me that I was so oblivious.
Both children and dogs were banned from being in the same time zone as hanging laundry lest the temptation to pull something down might overcome the fear of pain. The fear of pain is always overcome, however, and either evolution takes its toll, parents are dismayed, or, in my case, curiosity is sated, even if not in any way they would understand. I knew my mother would watch me play in the backyard, and I knew if I strayed too close to one part of the yard or another out of sight, she would call me back in. The trick was to disappear in plain sight, and get away with it. At four I was already a veteran escape artist. The latch on the door to keep me and my older sister from straying could be subverted. After lunch one day when my mother put be down for a nap, I waited until I heard her in the bathroom, and I made my escape.
I was a veteran escape artist, having already survived the Great Fence Escape where I fled the house one day as my mother was pulling out of the driveway to make a quick run to the Little Green Store. I ran to the tennis courts a half a mile away, and against all reason, I scaled the fifteen foot high chain link fence, and I was there atop of it when she rode by on her way back home. She totally missed seeing me. I ran back, snuck to the car and grabbed a bag and acted like I had just come out to help. I think she always wondered what I had just done, but never thought I had done something that weird. But that was how I was. I liked to climb fences, and get into small spaces, and go where no one else was going. I slipped out of the house again, and slipped into the back yard, where the sheets were hung like the condemned, innocent and clean, but the sentence aquatic driven to dry. I stood there, in defiance of my mother, who I knew could, and would look out of the window, but chances were as long as I was still she would not see me. I could smell the bleach and the detergent, and feel the thinness of the sheets as the wind pushed them like sails in some ancient ship. The sheets were from the beds of us three kids, and my parent’s bed, so the entire line was filled. It was a corridor of whiteness, and it seemed to close in on me, envelope me, and surround me with in an alien world. I thought that when I walked out from the sheets I would be somewhere else, another time, and there the world would be vastly different, and there would be dinosaurs and kites that spoke the language of strings as they flew. I closed my eyes and felt my world slip away, and felt the world of the billowing corridor began to fill in around me. It was a world where dogs could tell you how they felt and trees could move to allow you to jump from their limbs into the city pool. It was a world where snakes would be safe and the stars at night would move and rearrange to make much more clear outlines of things that people knew. When I walked out from between those sheets the world would be new, and it would be wonderful, and it would be unlike anything I knew. I closed my eyes, and let my fingertips barely touch the sheet on either side of me, and I walked forward, willing the new world to appear when I opened my eyes. But as I stepped out into the open, my mother spotted me, and the new world and I, were both banished by her wrath.