Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Couldn't Make This Up

The following story was told to me by my dear mother-in-law, about my lovely sister-in-law, who gave me complete poetic license to recount this memorable episode in a young child’s life. The city of Philadelphia has never been the same…

Young “Jeannie” as she was to be called, lived with her family in a beautiful three story walk-up on busy Allegheny Avenue, in a neighborhood of Philadelphia known as Port Richmond. The family had taken great care in remodeling the home, and one of its most attractive features was a striking bay window that bedecked the third floor, overlooking the avenue below. As for the family themselves, her father worked hard to provide for his family, her mother took great care in raising happy, healthy, well adjusted children, and her younger brother, Johnny, had already learned at the tender age of nine months to steer clear of little Jeannie’s “inventiveness”.

You see, in Jeannie’s first two years of life, she had already garnered a bit of a reputation as a mischief maker. Examples of this included terrorizing her little brother, hiding from her mother, and a remarkable incident involving bleach, the stairs, and an unsuspecting pile of clothes waiting at the basement floor. All of these, however, would pale in comparison to what would happen next.

The morning had begun like most, with breakfast being tenderly prepared for the children. When they had finished, the doting mother placed her infant son in his playpen and allowed Jeannie to watch a morning cartoon while she straightened up the kitchen. A matter of minutes had passed when the mother was stirred from her cleaning by the feeling that this quiet morning was, well, too quiet. She decided to peek in on the children to ensure all was as it should be. It wasn’t.

Though Johnny was still happily enjoying his playpen, Jeannie was gone, leaving behind only a small, rumpled pile of clothes. Sighing over what appeared to be another bout of mischief and another collection of clothes that would require ironing, the mother began to search for her in the usual places: in closets, under beds, behind doors. But after a thorough search of all three floors, the mother was both out of breath and out of patience. Her irritation, however, quickly turned to panic as frightening thoughts began to creep into her mind. She began to search anew and was hurrying down the stairs for a second time when her own mother, later to be known as “Granny”, entered through the front door…smirking.

“Go outside,” Granny instructed.
“Mom, I can’t. I have to find Jeannie. I can’t find her anywhere.”
“Go outside,” Granny repeated again, barely stifling her amusement. Throwing up her hands, the mother stepped out of the door and stared out across Allegheny Avenue. Granny then added, “Now go across the street and look at your house.”

The mother walked onto the busy street, bustling with people going to work, selling their wares, and, yes, staring up at her house. As if in slow motion, she turned to face her home, examining the first floor, second floor, and then…the third floor. She froze.

Her eyes rested on a startling image framed in the third floor bay window. Could it be a gymnast in flesh toned leotard? Oh, not exactly.

The lost girl was found and the pile of clothes explained.
There in the window, as if upon a stage, was little Jeannie, in all her naked glory. But what was she doing? Some may call it dancing, but really it bore a closer resemblance to calisthenics, or even “voguing”.

The throngs collecting on Allegheny watched as she stretched.

She limbered.

She even laid down on her side to conduct leg lifts...for all the world to see.

The mother was speechless. In her frozen state, she couldn’t decide what troubled her most about the episode: her daughter’s questionable future in the performing arts, her husband’s now reasonable argument that they move to Jersey, or how she would apologize to the neighbors across the street.

The neighbors, you see, were a very loving, hopefully forgiving, convent of nuns.

Amen, sister.

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