Thursday, January 30, 2014


When I was a kid, my dad was heavily involved in the local teacher's union. He was on many committees fighting for teachers rights, and even became Vice President of the Teachers Association. One of the committees he was on was called The Agreements Committee. I'm not entirely sure what they were supposed to be “agreeing” on at their many meetings, but their spouses had a different name for it: “The Arguments Committee.” My dad's good friend S was also on many of these committees and his wife and my mom decided to band together in self-preservation. They realized that there were certain times of the year when their husbands were so immersed in meetings that their families barely saw them. They began getting together for supper, sometimes to commiserate, or to just have another adult to talk to instead of toddlers, sometimes to have the men continue their work discussions in another room while us kids ran around playing games like hide-and-seek... more about that in a moment... Their family comprised of four people and became known (at least in our house) by their initials KKTS. It was common to hear the phrase “are KKTS coming over for dinner?”

I can remember several times when we'd be getting ready to make dinner when the phone would ring.

“Have you made dinner yet?”

“No, I was just getting to that...”

“Good! Put on a pot of water for some pasta, we're bringing a pot of spaghetti sauce, we'll be there in 15 minutes.”

No discussion, no argument, just “we're bringing this, put together something to go with it. See you in 15.”  Sometimes they'd even show up unannounced, arms laden with groceries or pizza for an impromptu meal. We've celebrated more holiday meals with them than with our flesh-and-blood relatives. It's rather hard to define our relationship, but basically K&S were like a second set of parents to me, pretty much the only adults other than my parents who had the authority to scold or punish me if I misbehaved. Their kids K&T and I are like a weird combination of friends, cousins and siblings. We grew up together, both in our own homes and at the STA office. When I was a teen I babysat kids during STA meetings, and when I graduated high-school T took over the job. When my dad died suddenly, KKTS were there by our sides, making sure we remembered to eat and reminding us of how to laugh. When S went through Cancer treatment and ultimately lost his battle, Mom and I did our best to return the favour.

I don't know who started it, Dad or S, but when I was very young a box of Festive Christmas Ice Cream (filled with dried fruit and other disgusting-looking items usually reserved for Fruitcake) appeared at the dinner table during one of our get-togethers. My dad was notorious for eating just about anything... as long as it wasn't “healthy.” HP sauce on ice cream? Sure, why not? But when it came to the dreaded Christmas flavour, everyone decided that this was the most disgusting ice cream in the world and refused to eat it, even my dad, so it went into the freezer. Until the next communal dinner, when it miraculously appeared at the other house as “dessert.” This back and forth continued for years. It got to the point that the ice cream couldn't have been eaten if we'd wanted to, it was so old and desiccated, but it kept being passed back and forth between our freezers, mysteriously appearing after visits. Eventually we had a horrible storm and the power was out for several days, leaving what remained of the ice cream to melt and turn the box into an unrecoverable sodden mess. Thus ended the tradition... Until a little over a year ago, when after Christmas dinner at her mom's house, T graciously gave me a ride home, and insisted on helping me bring my leftovers and loot into the house. Somehow a box of Candy-Cane Ice Cream mysteriously appeared in my freezer. At Easter it made it's way to K's house, and since then has found a home in the younger K's freezer, where it may or may not have been consumed... his wife is expecting baby # 2 and T says there is a definite possibility that the ice cream succumbed to someone's midnight cravings. K has been known to eat a lot of things that the rest of us turned our noses up at, and no one can predict the cravings of a pregnant woman.

Now that we're adults, nearly every time T and I get together and one of us introduces the other to her friends, T will inevitably bring up one particular fact. When we were kids, we'd play all sorts of games at our house, hiding in the closet and pretending it was a cave we were hiding in to escape pirates, tag, board games, and of course... hide-and-seek. 

The picture of innocence.
I had a trundle bed. There was a normal mattress on top, and a big drawer below with a foam mattress for sleepovers. At least, that was the intended use. I can remember using that mattress to sled down the stairs with my best friend and her big sister. (That cracked stain glass window had NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS MOM! Really! It must have been the dog, and her hard rubber ball... yeah... that's it!) But ultimately, as T tells it, the main purpose of this bed drawer was to play hide-and-seek, shove T (the youngest of the three of us) into it, close it and wait for the seeker to find her. And wait. And wait. And wait. And occasionally to forget that she was there, only to find her some time later, either fast asleep, or screaming because she couldn't get out. I can only remember doing this a couple of times. My biggest hide-and-seek memories are of hiding behind the dresser in my parents room because it was in the corner on an angle and you could climb over the nightstand to squeeze into the space behind, crouch down and escape detection for what felt like hours. T's biggest hide-and-seek memories are of being trapped on a cheap foam mattress in a drawer under my bed, too little to figure out how to slide herself out without the help of her neglectful brother and I. My apologies to the 3-6 year-old T for all the times we allegedly left her under there. In hindsight it must have been rather scary. I hid under there a few times, but by then I had the upper body strength to grab the slats above me and slide the drawer out. She didn't. And 25+ years later, it seems she'll never let me forget it. I am sincerely sorry T! (But hey, at least you have an interesting story to tell every time my name comes up, right?)