Forty-six years ago, there was an earthquake in my kitchen. I was there. I saw it with my own two eyes, and I heard it with my own two ears, and I felt it, too. But, unfortunately, I also tasted it, in a way. Or rather, I tasted the lack of Dr Pepper Cake that it brought to my mouth, because when the earthquake hit my kitchen, all the Dr Pepper that I had carefully measured out to be poured into the cake batter spilled. Luckily, not very much landed on the floor, so I didn’t have to mop that. Mostly it all just landed on Papa Lou, my uncle.
Needless to say, Papa Lou was not very happy about it. In fact, he yelled some rather painful sounding things. Exempli Gratia: “Oh heavens to Betsy! That is WET, Lucy!”
But my uncle regains his composure quickly. He wasn’t named Papa Lou for nothing. Once, when a toilet seat was thrown at him, he shouted out in a slightly higher-than-normal pitched voice, “Confound the English!”
Actually, the toilet seat never even hit him, but it landed awfully close to his new sandals, so after shouting at them, he grabbed the toilet seat and flung it as hard as he could, popping it up into the air dangerously close to a large group of British-looking people. But, as I was happy to see, it missed them and landed in the fountain that they were all taking pictures of in their tourist-like way.
The entire tourist group, when they saw a huge splash and then noticed the toilet seat in the fountain, looked around for the one who had thrown it, but my uncle, ever the quick one, had already taken my jacket and switched it with his own. I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing, but I found out a few seconds later when he shoved me towards them and declared to the whole world, “Lucy threw it!” then with a sneaky duck lost himself in the crowd.
The British were all bellowing something along the lines of, “The Lou! The Lou! Who’d Papa Lou attus? Blast those American gorillars! Who’d Papa Lou attus, indeed!” I couldn’t quite understand all of what they said, or why they were yelling about a fellow named Lou, but they changed pitch so noticeably when they said, “Papa Lou” that I remembered it better than the rest of what they had said and when I was retelling the story to my aunt later that day that was what I mentioned first: the British and their Papa Lou. She thought it was wonderful, and teased her husband about it from then on, so that’s how he got the nickname of Papa Lou. Needless to say, he’s not very fond of the British nowadays, but he doesn’t let it show very often.
This time, when the Dr Pepper spilled all over him, he was more concerned with his being out of place than with the mess it had caused. Since I was not wet, and he was, he grabbed my own half-full glass of Dr Pepper (with a slice or two of lemon added for supremacy) that was still sitting on the counter and with an iniquitous flick of his arm, dumped it all over me.
My dog wasn’t very happy about that. In fact, much as he loved Papa Lou, he loved me much more and would have defended me when the British mob tied me to the fountain with toilet paper and –shudder– took pictures of –cough– me.
Heavens to Betsy, that was traumatizing. But anyways, my dog would have defended me then, too, had he been there, but since he wasn’t he didn’t, and to make up for it he was rather fierce with Papa Lou on that day, forty-six years ago, when there was an earthquake in my kitchen.
“Thunder!” I yelled at my dog. “Get your teeth out of Papa Lou’s leg this instant or I’m gonna have to go and get Rosko! And you know what he’ll do if you don’t behave! He’ll eat you alive!”
Of course, that was actually a lie. Rosko would never eat Thunder. And he would certainly never eat Thunder alive. Rosko was a good Grizzly. Mother had found him in the woods one day, crying. I think someone stole his spot at the berry bush or something, because he’s really nothing but a big (REALLY big) crybaby. Mother can’t stand to see anyone cry, so she took him home and he lived in our backyard from that day on. He’s actually probably still living there.
But, even though I was a liar, Thunder was a good dog. He let go of Papa Lou’s leg all right.
A few seconds later, my dear uncle was screaming like a little goose and grimacing with an awful expression. I was shocked. Thunder had attached himself to Papa Lou’s rump area and was now dangling from there by his teeth, growling and yelping in muffled little barks, as if he had a mouthful of food and was trying to say something at the dinner table. Both Thunder and Papa Lou were talking through their teeth. It was not a pretty sight. Shame I didn’t have my camera.
Anyways, next thing I knew, there was an awful tearing sound. I had been looking forlornly at the poor, empty Dr Pepper glass. All the Dr Pepper was gone. Oh, the tragedy.
But, when I heard the tearing sound, I glanced over at Papa Lou and saw that Thunder was no longer dangling off his pants.
“That’s good,” I thought to myself, and I turned back to the empty glass to contemplate how to replenish the ambrosia that had so ill manneredly been removed from it.
I realized that we had no more lemons in the refrigerator, because father had previously complained when he happened to walk by and see me cutting up the lemon for my original glass of Dr Pepper.
He stopped walking by and grunted, “That there lemon ain’t cheap y’know, girly, and it’s the only one we’ve got!”
Having said that, he continued his journey and I continued my cutting.
I knew we had no lemons, and I knew we had no Dr Pepper, because I had been forced to wrestle the last can of it from my older brother before I could pour it into my own precious drinking glass. Lucky for me he’s ticklish. Unlucky for him, my own ticklishness is still to this day a well-kept secret. So zipped lip, eh reader? And did I mention that Rosko probably still lives in my backyard?
So, I concluded that I would have to go shopping. I didn’t have any money, but I figured God would provide, since after all, this was a lack-of-Dr-Pepper Situation. Those are very high priority circumstances.
Something felt wrong, but for a moment I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Then I realized that Thunder wasn’t running along by my side like he normally did. Oh well.
The sun was bright, and the stars were out. Yes, the stars were out, I just couldn’t see them, excepting the sun, of course. But there’s such a thing as faith. Some people just don’t know about it yet.
Faith in the stars, faith in God, faith in everything, plainly, faith is quite essential to survival. Speaking of survival, I needed Dr Pepper, and I needed it soon. And hurray! There in the distance I could see the grocery store.
I picked up my pace a little. Well, actually I started running, but minor details aren’t important. The important thing was that suddenly I heard Thunder’s little yap! That brightened my spirits. The strange thing was, his yap still sounded like he was talking with a muffin stuffed in his cheeks.
That roused my curiosity, and I stopped running for a moment and grabbed Thunder in an embrace. Sure enough, he still had some of Papa Lou’s pants hanging out of his jaw.
Upon closer inspection, I saw that the section of Papa Lou’s pants that Thunder had hung onto was the part with the pocket. And that pocket was the pocket that my uncle liked to keep his wallet in.
Thunder was a good dog.
When Thunder and I got to the store the clerk fellow demanded that Thunder stay outside.
“No dogs allowed,” he said.
“Pish posh,” said I, but only loud enough for Thunder to hear. He growled his agreement, but went and sat outside to wait for me.
I had just finished paying, when I suddenly felt another earthquake. I was frightened, because Thunder was outside all alone and a pigeon might get knocked out of the sky and fall on him with all that rumbling and crashing and whatnot.
“Oh heavens to Betsy!” I called out in distress.
But, when I got outside, alas, I can hardly even bring myself to recall it, but there before my eyes I saw a most terrifying scene. A great battle had begun. There had never been an earthquake. It was only the Hippopotami of the British, who rattled the ground whenever they charged.
Apparently, they tend to charge whenever they see the color brown, and having just come out of the woods a quarter of an hour or so ago, the British troops had only barely recovered from the mayhem, when the Hippos had caught sight of my darling Thunder.
No longer was I concerned with my Dr Pepper, now spilt all over the Grocery store’s floor.
It is now 2050 and the British Hippo wars have been going on for forty-six years, to the day. In memory of Thunder, I have written this so that others may learn the valuable lessons that can be learnt from my own experiences.
What those valuable lessons are, you’ll have to figure out for yourself, but trust me, they’re there. Best of luck, and heavens to Betsy, it’s gotten late. Back to the Grizzly kennel I must go, or else some of the new troops may find themselves in a position unfavorable to them. Probably pretty tasty to the Grizzlies, but I must say, quite unfavorable to them.