Tuesday, January 30, 2007

suds in a bucket...and my finger's in the ringer!

When the crowd jumped to its feet at the Shrine Mosque a few nights ago for the third song in her set, I knew it must be a good one. Sara Evans started talking about growing up in New Franklin and doing the chores most Missouri farm girls had to do, and the crowd immediately knew she was leading up to her Suds in the Bucket song.

At first, I thought the song was going to be more about remembering childhood chores and sharing them with your brothers and sisters. But who wants to reminiscense about hanging the laundry and bringing in wood for the fire? Instead, this song is about the growth of a young woman, who, when it's time, leaves her chores behind and heads out when the jet stream blows through town (aka...prince charming in a white pick-up truck.)

But of course, I am a reminiscenser (if there is such a word--and I'm sure there isn't)...and when the song started, I began to think about my own version of suds in a bucket when I was a child growing up in Missouri.

When my parents built their first home in Gainesville, it came with all the bells and whistles, including new appliances in a 1975 shade of green I'm not sure exists today. But while they were loving their up-to-date fancy washer and dryer, I snuck around the corner and down the road to the neighbor's house and learned what an outhouse was and how to make fresh fruit fried pies.

Bonnie and Delbert were always good to let me bother and annoy their everyday life. And when I was around, they never let me get in the way of whatever they were doing.

Bonnie used to play a trick on me. She had an old ringer washer out the back door of the tattered screen porch and inside the run-down smoke house used for a shed. When she first showed me how it worked, she jumped and screamed yelling "my finger's in the ringer!" and I glued my eyes to the rotating ringers waiting for a flattened finger to shoot through with Delbert's underwear. I visualized its flatness to the likes of Wile E. Coyote's mishaps with falling ACME bricks, and I was sure we could pop her finger back into its proper position.

Sadly, her finger never made it through (I'm not sure how grotesque that actually is that I wanted to see her finger come through), but I was mesmerized by this piece of equipment and jealous of its existence at her house. And no matter how much my mom and dad loved their modern Maytags bought brand new from Sears, I wanted that ringer washer. Once she showed me how it worked, Bonnie would often let me send the laundry through the ringers and dump it in the basket to be hung out to dry (which of course, was not my favorite part of laundry day at the Luna's.) But I was willing to help do anything as long as I could work the ringer washer.

Unfortunately, less than a decade later, the ringer washer became a back porch planter when Bonnie and Delbert upgraded, bringing in a pre-fabricated doublewide with all its bells and whistles...and adding brand new appliances to their newly modern home. And although Bonnie couldn't play the "my finger's in the ringer" joke anymore, she found plenty of other amusing ways to scare, shock, and terrify me.