it just sort of happened that way

Last night my children and I were lying on the full size bed in their room and they begged me to tell them a story – something that really happened to me. I was lying looking up at Sophie’s bunk bed so I remembered one: “One time in the bus, we were driving somewhere. Billy and I were on the top bunk bed. There were three bunk beds: Grandma and Grandpa’s, mine, then Billy’s. We were in the top one. Billy fell off and hit his head. He split the skin of his head open and we had to drive to a hospital and get him stitches.”

They liked that story and talked about it a bit (Nels has had stitches, too). They asked for another story. I was still thinking about my brother so I told them: “One time when we were pretty young we were up at the Mason Lake cabin. Billy and I were in the water. I caught a snake that was swimming, and I gave it to him, and it bit him.”

Sophie said, “Why does all the bad luck happen to Uncle Billy?”

Nels said, “Tell us another story.”

Now I was on a roll. “One time when we lived in California we were having a picnic with family,”* I told them, “and Billy was about to take a bite of a chip. And just as he put it to his mouth a grasshopper jumped on the chip and Billy bit the bug in half.”

Nels asks solemnly, “Was the grasshopper white, or green, or pink?”

Sophie says, with authority, “It was green.” And I think she was right.

* I neglected to mention to my children that all the grownups were stoned or sloppy or both.

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