What’s All The Hoop-La About a Side-Room?
I Have Told You Enough
times about the year that I was and what age I was until I am sick to the stomach. That, my friend, is sick. Nothing personal toward you, no! I just realized tonight, late I might add, that I have been for the longest time, in a rut. That my friend, is a sad place to be. It is similar to a hamster running fast as can be on this round wheel and the poor hamster never getting anywhere but exhausted. This is the only fitting analogy to describe my life right now Aug. 23, 2019.
I do apologize for the glaring fact that I am not a glamorous man. Never claimed to be. It has take me several years to know that I am what I am and where I am is here, smack-dab in the stadium of life and I do not have a coach. But that is my fault, not yours.
Maybe I should get to my subject. It’s not what you would call a perfect subject, but I like it. I like it for the mystery that hardly anyone can define. The side-room. I became acquainted with this scary-but-magnetic piece of carpentry in 1961. The house that my family and I rented had a huge side-room, but I was never allowed to enter this part of the house, and if my folks had been so controlling about the side-room, I would not have walked on brimstone to see inside the side-room.
There Was The Part
of the house called the living room, bedroom, and kitchen. Most people even in 1961, had dining rooms, but we did not. We had a kitchen. Not a kitchen room, but a real bona fide kitchen that was adjacent to our side-room. When my family and I sat down to eat our meals, my mind was not on the green beans, squash, cornbread and peach cobbler, I was thinking about the side-room. In fact when I asked my dad several weeks back why I couldn’t go inside the side-room, he snarled and told me that there was nothing to see in the side-room and if I knew what was good for me, I better stay out.
And I did. Stay out just like my dad had laid down the law. Still . . .dad’s stern advice only fueled imagination about what was in the side-room, who put it there and why. That was it. I was not out to find out these rural mysteries and blab to everyone who lived down the road from us. And I am sure that the Williams family (a true family) if I had blabbed about our side-room would not have cared because they had one. A side-room and they were proud to have one.
There we were share-cropping in order to live, me going to a two-room schoolhouse, yes, New Home School, (a real school), and mother cooking and canning our spring produce so we would have food for the cold winter ahead. And I bet you did not wonder where she kept her canned tomatoes, green beans, and delicacies. In the side-room of all places. Even if I stood and helped her bring the canned vegetables to her, she stood in the inside of the side-room and I was told to stand inside the kitchen. These moments for a seven-year-old kid can be so frustrating and probably wondering now what “if” but “who” occupied the side-room? In 1961, I was mature enough to know that Dracula, the Mummy or the Werewolf did not exist, so I was not about to buy into these Hollywood fantasies. I was growing more mature by the week and I wondered if the day would come when I reached 12-years-of-age if I would ever be allowed to walk inside our side-room.
Then, Without Any Fanfare
I was told one cold December afternoon to head to the side-room to get some of my mother’s canned green beans from the shelf so we could have supper. For a moment, I thought I was in a trance. Maybe a great dream. But it wasn’t a dream, but pure, unvarnished TRUTH! I was going to the side-room . . .by myself. No one to walk with me or be my bodyguard. Yes, this day was a momentous day for me. But wait until I tell you the truth about our side-room.
Our side-room was far from big. Hardly. It was narrow and I had to watch my step due to the things that (someone) had once placed there on the floor and never gave it a thought. My thinking was beginning to see that maybe the folks who once rented this house found it necessary to either use that side-room for storage or unloading some items that were not needed. Worn-out shoes, once worn by the man who lived in the house before us. He must have been a farmer, because his work shoes were very dirty and wrinkled, not by age, but by hard work. There was one woman’s shoe, it looked like a slipper with some sort of jewel on top of the tongue.
A smell hit me like it did everyone—a musky, wet, and stiffing scent that emitted from what I thought was old worn-out clothing that was once wet by one or two leaks in our side-room, but my question was why didn’t my parents take the time to eradicate the junk, pure junk, that was stored in our side-room. As I walked by the door at the other end of the side-room, I stumbled because I felt something stinging my leg. I yelled for help as I spied the red culprits. No. They were not Communists, but big red wasps who did not like me disturbing their ease and so they retaliated again and again. I hit the wasps on my legs and did not run. I was way too scared to run.
My horror of the unknown was being resurrected from thoughts about me running over a snake that might be hiding out of my sight, but thank God above, no snakes. But plenty of filthy pieces of shingles that were not stacked in neat piles. Why shingles? Why the one woman’s shoe? I understood the red wasps, but not the one woman’s shoe.
Before long I was finished with my Side-Room Tour and I was so relieved that my fears for what was behind that one-time locked door to the side-room was now history. No death. No bodies. No snakes. Sometimes discovering the truth can be a dull adventure compared to the fear that I had faced by going to the side-room.
August 24, 2019______________________________________________
© 2019 Kenneth Avery