la Ketch

my life story

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Happy Birthday Shirley

I was only seven or eight years old but the memory is singed deep and bright. The image of my mother, sick in bed. She and my dad were supposed to go out that night and our FAVORITE babysitter C.S. was supposed to come over and watch us. I couldn’t wait for them to leave and for her to get there so that the fun could begin. But here was my mom, sick in bed, not a good sign. “What’s the matter mommy?” I said to her pleadingly from the foot of her bed like a perfect little unsuspecting angel. My dad answered the question from behind me, “Your mother is sick.” He had a bucket of soapy water and a sponge in his hands and he set them down against the wall as he said this.

The sickness was super strange because my mom had been perfectly fine just hours earlier. They had gone to this birthday party for our next door neighbor, Shirley. It was a backyard pool party sort of situation and my dad had been bartending. So the story goes, he had just learned to make long island iced teas and they had been a big hit at a different party a few weeks earlier. My mom had taken a sip and really liked it. “You can’t even taste the alcohol!” Yeah, well we can all see where this is going.

Now my dad is making these long island iced teas at Shirley’s party but the “jigger” aka shot glass was bigger than the one he had been using and the glasses were pint glasses. So these drinks were huge and strong and my mom drank two of them and became totally wasted in a matter of 30 minutes. He had to drag her back home and put her into bed.

I had never seen my mom drunk before and I didn’t understand why my dad had this bucket, had she thrown up? Yes, but that’s not what the bucket was for. I turned to my right...

Written on the wall, in huge crayon letters were the words, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHIRley........ There was a line drawn from the end of the “Y” all the way to the floor. It looked like she had fallen and drug the crayon along the wall with her on the way down. Then, when you followed the line you could see two little words written in teeny tiny handwriting with the same crayon. It said, “help me.”

I think I’ve told this story one million times and it still cracks me up it is so fucking funny.

“Don’t worry, your mother is going to clean that up,” my dad assured me. I wasn’t worried about who was going to clean it up. I was worried that my mom had lost her frigging MIND! What the heck is going on when your mom is taking your Crayolas and writing these crazy messages on the wall?! “Help me?!” But you’re my mom! You’re supposed to be helping ME!!!

I’ll tell you what’s going on when this sort of thing is happening. Your mom is drunk.

So now, whenever she gets a little tipsy and starts acting obnoxious we will say to her, “Happy Birthday Shirley,” with a tone of warning in our voice as if to say, “never forget”. That reels her in for maybe five minutes. I have to admit that my husband has used this warning on me more than a few times and it has a similar effect. I’m so much like her. It’s scary.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger dup said...

It's a classic.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Brikin Blog said...

holy crap that's one of the funniest things i've ever read.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger Eve said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA! That is so hilarious! I can't stop laughing at the sad, pathetic little "help me". So good.

At 7:51 AM, Blogger Lauren said...

Last time my Mom was drunk she hit me over the head at her dinner party. It was supposed to be just a little "bop", but it really hurt!

At 3:24 AM, Blogger Eve said...

Hey Hilary! Put down that damn paint brush, and get back to your keyboard! I'm having withdrawals here! (---help me!)


At 1:20 PM, Blogger izchan said...

I don't see the funnies in this.

I was actually terrified.

after reading this, I read the post before this ... and now I am petrified.

you have no idea how much i want to go over there and hug you. Just to let you know you are alive.

I hope you NEVER have go through that ever again. no one should have to go through that.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger jill said...


were they invited back to shirley's after that?

At 1:23 PM, Blogger la Ketch said...

oh yes. they were invited back. i don't think they knew about the crayon incident though. it's not something my mom is proud of.


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