The Wanton Moppet in a Pom-Pom Hat
Every Christmas, Sister Madly’s mother would spend a week baking up to forty loaves of bread while listening to Lawrence Welk and the Mexicali Brass. Ever since she could remember, Sister Madly and Tallulah would deliver about half of this bounty to neighbors she hardly knew by sight- many of whom lived far beyond the acceptable distance of ‘neighbor’ – while dragging their red wagon through the snow.
But this tradition was not limited to her neighbors.
While no child looks forward to a school day, no morning was as dreaded as the one that came once a year, when her mother handed over a loaf of bread to give to the bus driver. When Sister Madly first heard the term “cruel and unusual punishment,” this scenario is what came to mind.
To this day, Sister Madly cannot tell you why this act of gift-giving was so humiliating; no one made fun her for doing so, the driver was neither mean nor pleasant and face it: those speed bumps weren’t really the lady’s fault. The bread would sit in the middle of the driveway while the siblings squabbled over their predicament, with the underdog of this humiliation being decided when one of them (Tallulah) leapt forward to rescue the loaf from certain destruction by their father’s approaching truck.
However, the argument of who was to give the bread to the bus driver was beans compared to the argument of who would carry the bottle of champagne.
You see, the Darrow’s lived four doors down, one of the few neighbors Sister Madly knew by sight (she use to play in the field- and that weird, pit-like thing- that was behind their house.) Every year the Darrow’s would, in return for the bread, give the girls bottle of champagne.
For Sister Madly, this was much worse than the whole bus driver thing; people might actually think that the champagne belonged to her. They might think that she, a wanton, 5 year-old moppet, had wasted every cent of her allowance on its purchase and there was no way that she could prove otherwise. Her champagne didn’t even come in a paper bag, which is how it was consumed by most good-for-nothings on the streets; no, her bottle had a shiny, red bow tape to it.
Then came the brief but horrifying thought: what if her mother thought that Sister Madly bought the wine for her? Her parents had stopped drinking some years before, and the bar in the basement now held a bizarre assortment of stuffed animals. Should a bottle of wine appear in their midst, it would bring no end of trouble.
These red wagon adventures never went off without a hitch; on the off-chance that any of the neighbor’s were not home at the time of delivery- and there were many such chances- the siblings would be sent out again. And again. And again…
One such delivery spree left them hauling three loaves of bread back to the homestead on the hill, with Sister Madly slotted to re-deliver later that evening. Tallulah got out of it, all because her friend had the audacity to be born on that particular date years before, and wanted to celebrate the fact with a party.
Even back then, Sister Madly had anti-social tendencies; she may have known these 3 remaining neighbors, but that didn’t mean she wanted to go knocking on their doors. Once out of sight of her house, she gave into a tantrum and crawled into the wagon, staring up at the falling snow and the nearby mailbox. It took a few moments for Sister Madly to realize how the mailbox was roughly the same shape as the loaf of bread…
With a newfound enthusiasm, she re-positioned the wagon and, with an impeccable balance not seen since, stood up in the wagon so she could reach the mailbox. As it would turn out, the bread slid easily into the oversized box- and much, much less easily into the other two regular ones, but she did it anyway.
With her mission technically complete, Sister Madly trotted home, confident in the fact that she had rebelled against the unknown universe with little red wagon and a knitted, pompom hat.
5 stupid hours of pointy hell later, Sister Madly’s apartment is
finally festive. She will be calling upon one of you next year to set
up this tree for her. She may even buy you a cider for your trouble.