“Lorna, for such a smart girl…”

Where's the "on" button that makes this horse go? It's gotta be here somewhere...

Little Lorna was an observant and obedient girl. Let’s see what she observed during her stay in Connecticut…

Although it felt to me like we lived in Connecticut for years, we really only lived there for years–four to be exact. I did a lot of living in those years. And a lot of learning. I learned mostly by listening to adults and by living without the benefit of the common sense that most people are born with.

Since Mémé and Pépé were out the picture except for a few weeks in the summer and a rare long weekend, the only adults I had to listen to were Mom and the nuns at St. Francis School for the Eternally Miserable, or something like that.

Sister Mary Knuckle Sandwich. She taught us about God's love.

God tried to simplify things and make only ten very powerful rules. He called them Commandments to highlight their value. He presented them in very difficult terminology and illogical sequence. But the nuns loved them and thought they made perfect sense, and I wasn’t about to argue with the author or the knuckle-whacking messengers.

The Golden Rule was pretty simple: treat others as I would like to be treated.  I wanted to be treated to ice cream cone every day.  I didn’t see how that would help secure me a place in Heaven or make Mom happy, but I was a child and I wasn’t supposed to understand anything.

Then there were Generally Known Rules, including but nowhere limited to: never question what grown-ups say; be polite; act like a “proper” child in public; don’t get into anything resembling mischief; don’t say bad words; don’t make any body-function noises; and suffer in silence so as not to disturb or distress any grown-ups who might be nearby.

I. Don't. Know. How. Much. Longer. I. Can. Hold. This Fart. In.

I made my fair share of blunders in those four years, teaching me why the most obedient dog isn’t always the brightest one. You never learn to think for yourself. Maybe that’s not fair. I could think for myself, just not when I needed it most. If my mother had to pick one phase she repeated to me most often in my childhood it would be, “Lorna, you’re such a smart girl. What were you thinking?” A few examples might help you understand what I mean.

Finding my way to the corner market but routinely getting lost on my way back home should’ve been a clue for her to stop sending me on errands. But off I’d go each week with firm faith that I could find my way back home. After I’d been gone too long, the Reconnaissance Team of Little Lisa and Mom would find me teary-eyed and the paper grocery sack crushed to my chest as if it were my security blanket. One time I made it home with the help of an old stubble-faced man who smelled of cigarettes and something flammable. He held my hand, winked at me profusely, and called me “Blondie” even though I told him my full name. He kissed me on the cheek when we got to my house. Mom sternly lectured me about trusting strange drunk men and bringing them home.

My search for a father figure was off to a shaky start.

Lisa and I took baths together. When I was about seven years old, Mom asked me to take charge of getting us both naked and into the tub. It was a small but important job. I was a jumble of emotions: honored, anxious, and giddy. Stepping into the tub, I noticed my underpants were still on. Panic set it. I felt that I had stepped into quick-drying cement and was stuck there, the pink cotton evidence of my incompetence covering my butt. I never even noticed that had Lisa jumped into the tub with her socks on. She could have drowned because I was so fixated on my stupid underpants.

At least neither of us jumped in fully clothed.

I’ve already mentioned the infamous Monkey Bar dare in a much early post series.

My girth worked against me as I grew.  It increased my momentum.  I left a Lorna-sized hole I left in the hedges of the St. Francis School for the Permanently Troubled (or something like that) parking lot when I forgot where the brakes were on my bike. So exciting about pedaling forward without falling, I blanked out that pedaling backward stopped the bike. I had a lot of explaining to do when I came home, walking my bike, both of us looking like we spent hours desecrating bushes to camouflage ourselves for some war game, which obviously I lost.

Mission accomplished. I know how to ride a bike and do scrub sculptures. The one at the school parking lot is quite impressive.

My aunt and uncle were avid skiers. They offered to take me on one of their skiing trips. I didn’t have skis, but I had a sled. Mom sent me off with a warning: don’t get your socks wet. I was cruising down the Bunny Hill when my sled veered to the left, towards evergreens protecting the stream dividing the Bunny Hill from the regular ski slope. I yanked on the rope to steer away from disaster. Nothing. I landed upside down in the babbling brook with my little wooden sled on top of me; my legs and arms straight in the air. I blame gravity and a faulty steering mechanism.  Others have their own theories. At least I didn’t wet my socks wet. Mom just looked at her soggy girl with that look; the look at that said, “Lorna, for such a smart girl, …”

I knew I shouldn't have tried one of these new-fangled sleds...

And to think she had to leave her youngest daughter in my care while she tended to her oldest and very ill daughter. Talk about a “Sophie’s Choice.”

Don't worry, Lisa. Lorna always means well and I've hidden all the matches.

In our next installment we’ll find our what happens to Tina and her mystery illness.

~ by Lorna's Voice on January 22, 2012.

34 Responses to ““Lorna, for such a smart girl…””

  1. I’m glad nothing bad ever happened to you. Where would I be without you to make my world a better place? And I’m glad my stories provoke your stories. Isn’t that the way it should be? 🙂

  2. Oh the stories I could tell you about my sledding experiences. The only difference was that we intended to do the dare devil stuff. Did you ever see you life flash before you? You bring back memories when I read your stories.

  3. She didn’t have much of a choice and the store wasn’t that far away. I just got lost very easily. “Lorna” means “lost” you know… 😉

    Thanks for stopping in and commenting! 🙂

  4. That nun photo just tickles my funny bone haha and so does the whole post! I remember being a child too and having to not take off my undies 😉 As for that creepy old man…. Your mother’s a bit delusional for trusting that someone as young as you were back then could find your way back home… I’m sorry 😦

  5. Thanks. You did that, too? We must have separated at birth!

  6. Hilarious and entertaining … especially, the part with the
    underwear in the tub. I did that once as a little girl.
    Chuckling my way to bed …!!!
    P.S. hope you’re getting better … ~~~ : – O

  7. It’s always nice to know I wasn’t the only confused kid!

  8. Loved this post, so funny, but so true. I also remember being so confused, even frightened by all the rules, when most kids really did just want an ice cream cone. What’s commit mean? Oh. What’s adultery? Huh? What’s sex? What?? Never mind. Can I have that ice cream now?

  9. Hey Lorna, The Dark Globe is going to be what I’m calling a “February Shoot Off!” starting February 1st-Feb 14th… What this is, is a Photography Contest based on a Certain Theme, that is yet to be determined… Unlike the Outstanding Artist Awards, Readers will not be Voting, instead there will be a 9 Judge Panel… This Panel will be me, my 3 Senior Writers, my Senior Photographer, and I’m hoping you, Michael, Harry and Kirsty (La Plume Noire), the Artist Award Winners basically, Pete also being one, but he is also a Senior Writer.

    I’d love for you to be one of the Judges, as we will ask people to Submit Pictures (via Links I’d imagine), and the Judges will widdle it down to Finalists

    Anyway, let me know if you’d be willing to be one of the 9 Judges

    Thanks Lorna


  10. Too FUNNY! And did the guy who took you home resemble this one? I can imagine your mother’s terror-stricken face, if so. And in your defense, I think females don’t have the best sense of direction. Well, maybe that’s in my defense too.

    You had to grow up pretty fast but I guess that’s kinda inevitable, as single parenting puts a few more responsibilities on the older siblings. At least you were a barely out of toddlerhood, getting in the tub with your underpants on. Shucks, I’ve gone right in the shower wearing my bra.

  11. I certainly did try my best, and I guess it was good enough. We all survived! Thanks for your kind words, Gayle.

  12. That knuckle-whacking nun looks like John Belushi (from Saturday Night Live) in drag! Very funny. The pictures you find are priceless!

    I don’t know when “common sense” really kicks in (and of course it never does for many people) but I think it takes a while. I think you were just a darling little girl taking her responsibilities very seriously…the best she knew how. My heart goes out to that child.

  13. Again, thanks! Most of my posts are like this–funny tales of my life that will eventually form a memoir or autobiography.

  14. That was a pretty detailed example, Phil. I’m just saying… 😉

    Voltaire must have met me in one of my former lives.

  15. Thanks, Lee. But I didn’t feel like such a genius when I made all those gaffs when I was a kid!

  16. The bathtub scene still has me laughing. Great writing, Lorna, you are a genius!

  17. Delightfully funny. I really was struck as a youngster about all the “Thou Shall NOT…” I mean, all this attention on what we were not supposed to be doing. That in and of itself is so wrong – introducing and giving rise to ideas that maybe no one thought of. Kind of like saying, Thou shall not have sex with your girlfriend under the bleacher seats out near the football field. Most minds will then latch on to that very idea. Not that I ever… or… well… I was just giving an example. (ahem)

    And don’t despair about common sense, Lorna.

    Common sense is quite rare.
    ~Voltaire, 1765~

  18. Very creative post, Lorna! Nice job!

  19. Thanks U! I’ve gotten pretty good at poking fun at myself. I really was a kid who goofed up a lot.

  20. She won every match in first grade, too!

  21. Thanks Harry. That really was her name, you know. 😉

  22. As I reveal my stories, I’m finding I’m not alone in much. And that’s a great feeling! Thanks for sharing your story. I always love hearing other people’s stories and how they relate to what I experienced.

  23. So happy to be there to make you smile!

  24. That’s a BIG if! Those nuns were tough…

  25. Happy to make your weekend a bit more cheerful!

  26. Always love to hear that my words and wonky sense of humor are appreciated!

  27. I chuckled all the way through two readings of this – the Generally Known Rules had me laughing out loud, and that photo that accompanies it is hysterical! LOL! I can so relate to that part. Excellent write, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and can’t wait for the next installment. ~ Julie 🙂

  28. Well, for such a smart girl, I can’t quit giggling at your smart-ass photo captions and your writing. Thanks for the interlude of laughter in my weekend, Lorna! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  29. Ah, Catholic school–guaranteed to make a child strong–if he/she survived the experience.

  30. Love Love Love this! You crack me up. Thanks for finding my smile today, Lorna! HUGzzzz

  31. Ah, Catholic school. I’m kinda sad I never went to one because they are apparently rife with great story ideas. 🙂

    I remember having to run errands and getting distracted before I got there. I’d come home without the stuff Mom sent me for (sometimes I didn’t even have the money she’d given me. I spent it on other stuff along the way.) You’re not alone in those “You’re a bright girl” moments.

  32. Lovely post and funny i love Sister Mary Knuckle Sandwich.

  33. Funny, Lorna. Just plain damn funny!

    I think I’ve seen that nun on an Ultimate Fighting telecast. She won her match handily.

  34. Oh, Lorna, you are so stupendously funny. You have surpassed yourself with this piece, even by your usual standards. Let it not be said that even the most extraordinary experiences of our childhood can’t be turned into a laughing matter. Brilliant. Absolutely effing brilliant!


Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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