Tell us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.
During the summer of 1968, at age 10, I was allowed to ride my bicycle down the sidewalk and around the block to a friends house. My only rule was to be home before the street lights are activated. If the front and back porch light are on when you return home, you will get what’s coming.
It was a couple of weeks before the end of August and school was starting soon. I was at my friends house, and we were sneaking a peek through his neighbor’s window to see reruns of the Batman show. Our parents, were college academic educators, of English, history sociology and psychology.
Our parents did not allow either of us nor my older brother to watch most cartoons and television shows. It was what they called mindless television. So, I grew up listening to a lot of music, especially jazz and reading a lot of library books that I love to this day.
I usually left just before the show ended and my friend would tell me the ending the following day. However, the show was so intriguing, I lost track of time and was captivated by a “Joy” dishwashing liquid commercial when I realized the street light were on.
So, I ran to my bicycle and peddled so fast, the cuff of my jeans were caught in between the bicycle chain and peddled crank teeth, but, I just peddled on through tearing my pants leg.
I rode home taking the alley as a shortcut between our homes hoping and praying my older brother was taking the trash out. If I could catch him, I would walk into the house with him as if I was helping him with the trash. I skidded to a halt behind the garage, and I could hear my father voice and I knew I was surely going to get it.
I quietly and quickly eased into the backyard, when I noticed my brother had not taken the trash cans out. I hurriedly parked my bicycle against the fence and ran back to take the two metal trash cans and set them behind the garage for pickup in the morning. I intentionally made noise to rile the neighbors dog, who began to bark drawing attention to me. My plan worked and my mother was on the back porch under the porch light watching me taking the trash out.
My mom tells my father to stop yelling at my brother because I was taking the trash out. Once I finished and started walking towards the back porch, my mother thank me for moving the trash cans behind the garage for the garbage men in the morning.
She tells me, your brother said you were taking the garbage out, but remember, next time have the trash cans out before your dad arrives home from work.
Now, move your bicycle from against the fence, and put it on the porch. It may rain tonight. I said yes mama.
Now, I shared a room with my brother and when I entered he was seated at his desk. He gets up, closes the door, and slowly turns to me and says.
I heard you racing home in the alley when I went to take the trash out, but dad caught me walking onto the porch and started in on me for not having the trash out by the time he arrived home from work.
When I saw you taking the trash out, I quickly told him you were taking the trash out for me because I was reading my library book Robinson Crusoe and I was going to check to see if you were doing it right.
We hugged one another believing we were lucky for not getting caught, or so we thought.
It was during breakfast the following morning after mother poured milk into our cereal bowls filled with Captain Crunch. She sat down and calmly said, you are both grounded for the day.
We looked stunned, and I was about to cry when she said with a stern voice, don’t you cry or get mad. Looking at me, she explained, how I was supposed to be home before the street lights came on and definitely before the front or back porch lights came on. Plus, you tore a hole in your pant leg possibly racing home on your bicycle.
Looking at my brother, you are grounded because you were supposed to be reading Robinson Crusoe and not the Batman Comic book you bought at the corner store. You also lied to your father saying your brother was taking the trash out. Now put the comic book on my dresser after breakfast.
Today, you both will read your books from the library, and I want a verbal report of what you read at lunch and dinner.
You two will be inside the house today looking outside.