The Indoor Tsunami Adventure

Moms – how many of you, if asked could instantly tell of that one time when you really considered stuffing your sedated children into a large box and shipping them to any other continent than the one you were on?  Ah – I see a few hands not raised.  You are liars.

The day of this story my first sister and I didn’t set out to drive mom to infanticide, but this day, it just happened.  Mom was great. Despite all we put her through, she loved us dearly (okay – except for this day).  She was smart, clever and hard working.  She also had an irreverent sense of humor and enjoyed doing things outside the norm.

Case in point; if you grew up anywhere near Petaluma, CA. in the 1960s and 70s, you’ll recall a large department store named, Carithers, at the corner of Western & Kentucky.

Carithers circa 1960After mom established me in Grant Elementary School, she took a job at Carithers and quickly worked her way up to Assistant Manager. I loved her stories of chasing shoplifters down the road and that job provided our family with extra money and her with a sense of achievement.

Mom circa 1955If you grew up nearby, you most likely did business with her. She was very good at customer facing work – thus you most likely had a favorable impression of Carithers. But there was a darker side of this woman and I loved her for it because I can blame most of my most outlandish ideas on her genetics commingling with my own mostly innocent inclinations.

By way of evidence, I doubt if any of you knew what went on inside of Carithers’ locked doors most evenings before a huge sale.

Before most sales, mom would take us kids down to the store late at night and let us do some private shopping. As an assistant manager, she had both a store key and a nice discount that applied even to items marked down for the sale.  My favorite part was “how” we shopped. I, of course, was left downstairs in the men’s and boy’s department to find my own shirts and pants (dad never joined this nocturnal party because mom knew his preferences and sizes) while she and my sisters would head up to the 3rd floor into the women and girls department.   So we had the whole store to ourselves which meant we didn’t bother with the changing rooms. We tried everything on – right there in the aisle – which I thought was really funny.

I always got my shopping done fast, because, well, I’m a guy and this kind of thing just doesn’t take long. But my mom and sisters would go at it for hours. So, when I was done, I had my choice of wandering the store looking for amusement, riding their cool elevator up and down or going up to the 3rd floor and be guaranteed amusement.

I came to really enjoy watching and taunting my sisters and mom burn through the hours talking about what looked good or not and trying things on right there in the aisles. Wisely, mom always made sure we left the place spotless.

It was up there in the aisles of the 3rd floor that I learned that you could make smart remarks about most things that girls wear, but to steer clear of any discussion about their underwear.  Once I brought my middle sibling to tears about some frilly bra she wanted, that (hello) no one outside our family would ever see and (hello again) she was too young to need (if you know what I mean) and in turn received a disproportionate dose of parental scorn. For days later I learned again and again that my comments here were unwelcome. Okay – I got it! Can we change the topic now?

silly soap spray canBut I really need to tell you about the chaos my middle sister and I brought to mom one day.  It was a summer morning, when I was about six, making, Linda, about four (years before the whole bra incident) and baby Cheri safely stored in her box, and yes – really.  I kept her mostly in a big box because with a toy or two, it was her happy (read quiet) place.  Anyway, mom agreed to let Linda and I take a shower together. We normally were simply dropped into the bathtub together, but were getting too rowdy and making a huge mess with the “Silly Soap.” Remember that stuff?  It was a wildly cool idea that combined the notion of soap with the texture of whipped cream in a can. Well – we loved it and got it everywhere.

Tired of getting yelled at for doing the whole bathroom with Silly Soap, I thought it would be fun to show Linda what I had discovered about our little shower stall in the master bathroom. You’ve seen them before: small tiled room, about 1 square-yard of a floor with a glass door that (and this is important…) opened outwards.

Earlier, I had noticed that if I dropped the wash cloth over the floor drain, it would slow the drain enough to make a floor-wide puddle to play with. Hey – the tile walls and glass door were all water-tight; right? But I never made a big deal about it by myself. But showing my sister, and often partner-in-childhood-crime, should be fun if I escalated the idea a bit.

After securing mom’s consent to let us use the shower instead of the bathtub, we ran down the hall stopping only to shed our clothes and grab about 5 washcloths. I told Linda she was going to love this. In seconds, both naked kids were in that stall with wonderful steamy-warm water falling on us and we were layering the wash cloths on top of the drain.  And the water level began to climb . . .

Slowly . . .

As the water level passed our ankles, we began splashing around with the full impunity of being sealed off from the outside bathroom. It was great! The shower stall was morphing into a small vertical hot tub.

And the water level kept rising . . .

We noticed that the rate the water was rising seem to slow down, so obviously, the wash clothes are leaking somehow, so we took turns standing on them thus REALLY blocking the drain – which seemed to help – for a while.

The rate of rise really was slowing down and I couldn’t figure out why. No matter. I’ll just turn up the water so it will have to rise. Which sort-of worked, but you’ve already figured out what was happening haven’t you? The water was seeping, and then gushing out from the gap between the bottom of the glass door and the tile lip we had to step over to get into the shower. But by now, that was all underwater – so we didn’t see it.  And the water level kept rising . . .

Suddenly we heard a sound and looked out through the cloudy glass door – to see mom coming through the bathroom door. Instinctively, we knew this was not a good thing. I think her scream tipped us off.

Now recall, my mom was normally very smart and would not have done something as dumb as what she then did. Mom. . . I thought, but didn’t actually say because it all happened so fast. Don’t open the . . . was as far as I got, because she did open the glass door and thus released about a foot and a half of water we’d been able to capture – sending a tsunami out into the bathroom which then flowed through the open door into their bedroom and out into the hall before the wave finally lost its energy.

flooded roomsMom went into a hysterical scream and I thought it best to turn off the water. Linda looked petrified with fear; for good reason too. Mom was so angry that we were about to get one of her rare spankings – with the dreaded plunger handle which was (all too conveniently) right there by the toilet. Linda was closest – so she was dealt with first and the memory of my small naked sister getting a beating for what was originally, my idea was horrible, but getting my own beating was, I discovered, far worse.

Mom banished us both to our rooms yelling about how we were really going to get it when dad gets home.

Since I was behind a closed door, I don’t know how she got all that water out of the flooded bathroom, bedroom and hallway, but after getting control of my own crying, I turned to figure out what just happened.

Why had mom opened that door? Things were going great until she; hmm…  Maybe not…  Maybe the water was already making a mess when she came in. Maybe that’s why the water level had slowed unexpectedly. Maybe the water was already leaking out from – where? Ah! It had to be that stupid glass door! I’ll bet it really wasn’t water-tight. Why would anyone design such a stupid door?  Maybe I can fix this with a few wash cloths…  Hmmm.

Well, by the time dad got home, I had slipped back into the bathroom to confirm my hypothesis, mom was still steaming and wanting us to suffer for our crimes, but dad was having a hard time not finding the humor in the retelling of what happened. He decided that we had received a just beating for our deeds and added a few no-TVs nights. So, life returned to normal as mom settled down and the floors dried out.

But that was the last time I was ever allowed more than one wash cloth in the shower at a time, and Linda became a lot more skeptical of any idea I ever had – ever again.

One day for no particular reason other than she deserved it for any number of offenses, I crept into the bathroom while she was showering in that same stall and threw two handfuls of small super balls over the top of that glass door, which exploded against the tiled walls or glass door and ricocheted madly everywhere and pounded the day lights out of Linda from every geometrically possible angle.

It really did seem like a good idea at the time, but she was not too pleased with all the little red welts all over her body. I thought the idea was pretty funny and in my defense, I was only trying to help her forget the whole tsunami trauma.

Mom grew to be a tough mom to beat.  I recall one day when I was so angry that I threatened to run away.  Her eyes burned right through me, then she quietly turned to the closet and reached to get an old suit case which she tossed on my bed, said, “Great!  See ya.”

As she left me to my packing, I knew I had met my match, put the suit case away and stayed out of sight for a while.


GW bio card 4

22 thoughts on “The Indoor Tsunami Adventure

  1. Hi Gary,
    I had a hysterical laugh reading this. It was so funny and just the sort of mischief my two would’ve got up to and the brains behind it.
    No doubt you’re aware of the daytime sleep for young children and the whole idea that Mum sleeps when the kids sleep. Well, my kids were known to wake up before me and I wasn’t that well. Of course, these two never thought of doing anything constructive or simply turning on the TV. Oh no! I remember one occasion when they got into the food colouring and set up bowls of different colours throughout the kitchen and I think there must’ve been a bit of painting themselves and the floor. I don’t remember the details, only my horror and a sense of defeat. Yes, if I could’ve sent them off in a paper plane that day, I would’ve have added a return address.
    I would also like to suggest you separate the tsunami story from the department store story. Each story has enough spark to stand on it’s own and what I thought was particularly distinguishing with the tsunami story is all the thought you put into trying to block that shower and have a lot of fun, and that contrasts with your Mom’s point of view and the mess and destruction afterwards. I think the child’s mind there is priceless.
    Oh yes and the comments on your sister’s bra…you are lucky to be alive!
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Rowena – I’ve had limited access to my computer of late and have been watching things via my phone which is buggy when running my WordPress app. All that to say, I missed this feedback until just now. Thank you – thank you!. First – it is such a treat when someone tells me the had a good hysterical laugh over one of my stories.

      At my current age – I’ll not be creating any new memories of this caliber but only more adult-level misbehaving. I also love that we were not the only parents with crazy children. My wife, knew most of my stories from hearing them orally before we married and she swore that I was not going to have access to them until they were 20+. Interesting suggestion about breaking the two thoughts apart. I want to think about that. I really enjoyed the weaving of the two threads so one was almost always background tone for the other, (I did the same thing in “Prom Date”), but you pose a strong case.

      Finally LOL – on the summation of the bra comment. That was the pivotal event in my young life where I learned that there was some powerful mystery about girls and boobs and guys that was sure to give me more opportunities for grief. In my case however – forewarned did not exactly keep me out of future trouble.

      You are a gem Rowena. Your visits to my collection or even in general will always be welcome and likely make my day. Hey, if you’ve not done so, I think I can promise that you’ll get a huge kick out of my story, Kid Bomb. The little boy in me did not really grow up for some time. I have a couple of Aunts about my same age and they pretty much wanted to beat me up for this stunt while laughing with me. It’s my family’s fault you see. This is how I was raised….


      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hahaha! It is a great story, not too funny at the time I am sure especially having to get a spanking. I am one of 6 kids, so we sure had our fair share of crazy times. I totally enjoyed and giggled throughout! ❤ -Diana

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Regina. Thanks for reading my story. It was kinda cool watching that wave pass mom’s legs, but the look in her eyes was downright horrifying. She rarely got really upset at us but this incident pretty much set the highest measure on the scale.

      Please come back any time. I have a few more laughs I’d love to share with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my. I loved this, Gary. So funny and so kid-like! My brothers and I got into all sorts of similar trouble. And you’re right that our ideas always seemed perfectly plausible and fun at the time. It wasn’t until the consequences made themselves known that our great ideas turned out to be not so great. Ha ha. At the same time, they’re fodder for such good memories. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this great memory.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello DWP, but how did this happen?

      I try to thank anyone who reads my work and comments. I somehow missed the chance to thank you, oh no, — over two years ago. . .

      I’m so sorry. And this after such a kind comment. My collection has changed a lot since this story was posted but it remains a popular first read by many visitors. Also, my attempt to build a comfortable place for readers has gotten better as I’ve learned more. It still needs work, but my site is a lot less clunky as it was for your first visit.

      I hope this finds you well, healthy and happy as we carefully move into 2021.
      Again, thank you for your visit and reading time back in Dec. 2018. . . I so embarrassed to have missed the chance to thank you properly at the time.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You’re welcome, Gary. And no problem. It’s easy to miss comments or lose people in spam. 🙂 Clearly I enjoyed your post at the time! Have a happy, healthy new year, and Happy Writing.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. The words, “Moms – how many of you, if asked could instantly tell of that one time when you really considered stuffing your sedated children into a large box and shipping them to any other continent than the one you were on?” drew me right in. As for me, I tell them I am going to mail them to the moon and send them to join the circus.

    Slow shopping only happens with my boys when we are looking at lego, superhero toys or nerf guns! And the tsunami bathroom must be a right of passage as a child, haha.

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. haha – I’m pretty sure if asked, mom would have taken a pass on this whole event. She – Was – Not – Pleased. . .

      I recall this as if it were last week. What a scene it turned into. . .

      Thanks for giving it a read Shari.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Raj.
      Thank you for your visit & for reading some of my stories.
      There are several more that you are welcome to read.
      It would please me greatly to see you enjoying many of them.
      Welcome to my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just found your FB post about your blog. So glad I did! I really enjoyed it.
    I grew up in Petaluma but am now living in Modoc Co. (Northeast Ca)
    Even though I have lived in Modoc Co now for the last 14 yrs , I’m always going to be a Petaluma gal.
    It brings back great memories of the old Petaluma days. Our son and his wife still live there. Petaluma will always have a place in my heart.
    Cant wait to read more of your stories.
    Maria Odgers
    Cedarville Ca.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Maria.
      Great to meet you.
      You are very welcome to my story collection. Let me know if you have any questions or feedback. Just don’t miss the Giant Innertube Adventure. It’s my personal favorite and took place on the big hillside behind Grant elementary school.


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