By Laurie Buchanan
It’s no secret that I was mischievous growing up. Similar to metal shavings that scamper to a magnet, I was attracted to people who shared a similar disposition. With this in mind, my parents thought attendance at Sunday school might serve to smooth some of my bumpier edges, hoping to find a diamond in the rough. Tired from trying to rope the wind, they put me on the Baptist church bus that drove through our neighborhood Sunday mornings, while they stayed home to enjoy a much-needed reprieve.
Wide like saucers, my unschooled eyes took in the House of the Lord: red velvet-lined plates filled with money were passed down each row; thimble-sized cups of grape juice followed by oyster crackers came next; and there was a dunk tank behind the man with the fancy bathrobe standing up front. Oh boy howdy, I’d hit the jackpot!
When the kids in my grade were dismissed from the sanctuary to attend the Sunday school portion, I met Sally. If a cartoon cloud had formed over our heads it would have said Zing—Kindred Spirits! Afterward, I had my mom call her mom; she had her mom call my mom. We learned that by a gnat’s whisker we were just barely out of each other’s elementary school district, but we were close enough to visit each other by bicycle if we promised to behave.
In 1966 we were nine years old. That’s the same year we saw The Trouble with Angels starring Haley Mills, and read Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh — perhaps not the best role models for two young girls just short of wanted posters!
Each armed with pencil, tablet, flashlight, and bicycle we became Harriet with designs on becoming international spies. After school we’d meet up and shift into sleuth mode to make our daily rounds, writing down everything we saw and heard. Harriet’s favorite sandwich — tomatoes on white bread with mayo — became our favorite sandwich. We emulated everything she did, right down to writing rotten things about other people.
At church we’d each put the single dollar bill our parents had given us into the offering plate while surreptitiously “making change” so we could buy a box of Junior Mints and Good & Plenty to share on our spy rounds during the week.
Our route included the church which never seemed to be locked. It turns out the “dunk tank” was a baptismal, and that the first Sunday of each month was a baptism service where people were “buried with Christ” (under the water) and cleansed from sin. Sally and I felt they’d get even cleaner if we added soap.
Wouldn’t you agree that Joy has a celestial ring to it? We added the liquid dish soap version to the tank on Friday after school. Mr. Ebersol, an elderly deacon, never saw the clear liquid early Sunday when he turned on the water. Suffice it to say I’m surprised we weren’t weren’t struck by lightning in our pew that morning as bubbles cascaded over the railing…
We “test drove” lies at school. On the day each student was to stand up by their desk and say something about themselves and their family, I announced with aplomb that my parents were the king and queen of Hawaii and that we were cannibals. You could hear a pin drop as this unrehearsed lie made its public debut. The teacher’s rubber-soled shoes quickly thump-thumped their way across the linoleum floor in my direction, but I didn’t flinch. Fisting the collar of my shirt she announced that my next stop was Mr. Fleck’s office.
Did I regret my behavior? Not a bit. After all, I got to meet the principal. Word on the playground was that he had a glass eye! Paying rapt attention as he semi-focused on me — one eye piercing my eager gaze while the other wandered, seeming to randomly scan the ceiling — it was well worth the price of admission.
Collaborating with each other via telephone on our science fair projects, we decided to make paper mache volcanos — completely ignoring the teacher’s “parental supervision” suggestion. While Sally was diligently working on her side of town, I worked in the garage at my dad’s workbench. Using vinegar and baking soda the results were okay, but I wanted to win a ribbon — a blue ribbon. I’d done my homework and decided to try yeast combined with hydrogen peroxide for a larger explosion. Pleased, but not completely satisfied, I added the element of fire. Holy Cow! I yelled, jumping back in shock as the acrid smell of past-tense eyebrows wafted in the air.
Fast forward several decades…you’ll be happy (and possibly surprised) to know that Sally and I never “did time” in the big house. Friends to this day, we’re both in the business of being positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing; she as a psychologist, me as a transformational life coach.
Board Certified with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, Laurie Buchanan is a holistic health practitioner and transformation life coach. With the philosophy of “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing,” Laurie works with the whole person, helping them turn intention into action; bridging the gap between where they are, and where they want to be — body, mind, and spirit. You can find her on her blog, website, and Twitter.