You don't lay out in the sun too long, for example, lest you wind up like poor cousin Barbara's friend. After Barbara went inside, her friend stayed on the beach and fell asleep. I bet you think she got sunburned. Heavens, no. Rather, ants crawled into her ears and ate her brain. She scratched her ears until they bled. That's when the paramedics came and put her in a straight jacket. Forever.
And that's why you don't sit in the sun for longer than one hour.
Last night, my mom reminded us of how she taught my cousins the importance of writing prompt thank you notes. (A lesson that did not stick with me, unfortunately, as my birthday notes are embarrassingly late again.)
We were at a cookout at my brother and sister-in-law's house, and everyone was telling funny stories about scary stories. In my sister-in-law Sarah's house, for instance, they learned not to go in certain crawl spaces or basement areas because a little monster lived there. He wasn't bad, but children were not to go where he was.
My mom told the story of when the ghost of Miss Kiekbush left cookies on her grave for my cousins.
My little cousins were always begging my mom to tell them stories about Miss Kiekbush, the lady who used to live in our house and now was haunting our attic.
Miss Kiekbush was basically a nice lady but just couldn't help herself when it came to playing mean pranks. For instance, she stole the lower half a woman's body, turning her into a torso manequin. My mom used this manequin as a funky 50s-era decoration on our deck.
One day, my cousins found the manequin holding a letter in her delicate hand. Naturally, it was from Miss Kiekbush.
She instructed the children to come to a graveyard on Troost Avenue because she had a gift waiting for them on her grave. But get out of there before the thunder strikes three times, or else, she wrote.
My mom baked cookies and asked in the cemetery office where she could find a grave marked "Kiekbush." They told her, and she put the cookies there and returned with the children and my aunt and uncle. She told scary stories under the cloudy skies, and the kids made rubbings of the gravestone with crayons and paper. They found the gift of chocolate chip cookies, surely believing at last that Miss Kiekbush wasn't bad, just a jokester who occassionally stole half of people's bodies.
Then thunder boomed.
"We have to get out of here," my mom yelled, reminding them of the note.
Thunder struck again.
"That's the second time," she yelled, in a panicked voice. "We have to leave before it strikes again."
Some of the kids were perched atop Miss Kiekbush's gravestone and were crying to be helped down. My mom helped them and they ran to the car and piled in.
My mom peeled out down the graveyard road, until she came to a bridge.
"Oh, no," she cried, screeching to a halt. "It's the old bridge!"
"Don't go over the old bridge," the children begged her, not liking the sound of it.
"We have to. It's the only way out of here!" my mom said, stepping on the pedal and driving like a bat out of hell.
By this time, my mom couldn't hold back her laughter. So she disguised it as a cackle.
"Stop doing that," my cousins said. "We know it's you."
"I can't help it," she said. "Miss Kiekbush is laughing through my mouth."
Finally, they got to the graveyard exit before anything bad happened.
My mom stopped and turned to them.
"Now," she said. "Someone needs to deliver a thank you note to the grave, and it's not going to be me. One of you will need to ride your bike."
My cousin Jono, 11, bravely volunteered and Miss Kiekbush never pulled a prank on any of my cousins.
Did the note ever get to Miss Kiekbush? Of course it did. Wouldn't she have sought revenge if it didn't?
So if Jono can risk his life to deliver a thank you note, then what excuse does anywone else have? And that's why you always write thank you notes.
Note to self: write thank you notes this week.