Vi Chronicles: Peggy Lou was NOT a very good babysitter – Part II

You may recall that my sister, Peggy-Lou, had the child care skills of a hungry, one-eyed crocodile.  A couple years later, she hadn’t improved, as I will demonstrate below.

This time we were living at a campground in Maine while my step-dad completed some masonry work for the owners.  I remember three things about the place:  First, the campground’s owner made potato pancakes on a regular basis. They looked and smelled delicious but tasted like leftover mashed potatoes fried in Crisco. I fell for  those pancakes every time, cursing my bad memory with each gummy bite that followed.  How did these people have so many leftover potatoes?  If you consistently had leftover mashed potatoes, wouldn’t it be prudent to revise your menu?  Maybe substitute pasta, say, or even Rice a Roni?  I loved Rice a Roni.  I would have happily chowed down on leftover Rice a Roni even if it wasn’t made into a pancake and fried in Crisco.

The second thing I remember was the Trading Post at the entrance to the campground.  It was filled with the sorts of tools a young Native American enthusiast, who hopes to wander into the woods and be adopted by a nomad tribe, might need: drums, maracas, moccasins, feathers, fringe and Slim Jims.  I didn’t have money but I did have an extravagance of time and I spent much of it at the trading post lusting after a full Native American headdress.

And then there was the campground’s canoe. This canoe brought every Indian fantasy I’d ever had to a fever pitch. I imagined myself on the lake, gliding silently along in my canoe, wearing a beaded leather headband with a single eagle feather, tilted just so. I may have looked like a little girl on the outside but on the inside I was Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Tecumseh and Geronimo, all rolled into one.  See me?  Don’t I look exactly like that Indian who cries when you litter?

I wasn’t allowed to take the canoe out by myself.  It had to be signed out by an adult.  So when Peggy Lou came for a visit and offered to take me, I consented for lack of options.  I couldn’t really get a good Indian fantasy going with Peggy Lou on board.  For one thing, she talked too much, and for another, when she smoked, she threw her cigarette butts into the lake, which made a single tear roll down my cheek just like the Indian in the commercial.  I sat at the end of the boat, glaring at Peggy-Lou, jealous of her adult status and annoyed by her presence.  When she tired of rowing she asked if I’d like to row but I said no.  A plan had begun to percolate somewhere above my neck, but the jury’s out as to whether it percolated fully and whether my brain was responsible.  It may have been a bad sinus. She pulled the canoe onto the beach while I remained seated. She said, “You coming, Chicken?”  I said, “No, I’m going to sit here awhile and sun tan.”  She shrugged and left.  Consider that exhibit A in my defense.  Did she even know me?

I’m not sure what happened next, but somehow I pushed the canoe back into the water, hopped in and took off.  It was all an accident.  Finally, I could breathe!  There I was, out in the middle of the lake, in all my Native American glory!  The sun shone bright and hot upon my oiled black braids and bronzed skin.  My watchful gaze scanned the lake’s edge for any sign of the Crow, my tribe’s sworn enemy.  I didn’t see any Crow, but there were several crazy white people yelling and waving their arms.  They looked familiar.  I pretended not to see them.  It was too damn hot to massacre white people.

I had a small problem.  Steering a canoe wasn’t as easy as it looked.  In fact, I couldn’t seem to make the canoe go anywhere I wanted it to go and was floating aimlessly in the middle of the lake. By now, the loco white people were really very agitated.  And there were more of them.  It seemed the whole settlement had turned out to aggravate me.  It was getting hard to maintain my fantasy what with all the yelling, so I figured I might as well go find myself a popsicle. I finally managed to get close enough to a private camp’s dock about a half mile from ours, and the camp’s owner was able to throw me a rope and pull me in.  Peggy Lou, sent by my mother, came to fetch me. I hopped out of the canoe, strode right past Peggy Lou, and back to my mother, less Indian now, and more wronged child.

My mother asked what I thought I was doing, and so I explained how Peggy Lou told me I could row the canoe, and almost killed me.  I’m not a tattle tale by nature, but someone had to stop Peggy Lou from endangering America’s youth.

Peggy Lou got away with her careless boating instruction, and is probably coaxing some small child into the water as we speak. The next time my mother needed a babysitter, I ended up sitting in the owner’s kitchen eating potato pancakes. Can you believe that?

Chicken out


Iron Eyes Cody. Who was Italian, as it turns out.

  17 comments for “Vi Chronicles: Peggy Lou was NOT a very good babysitter – Part II

  1. Anonymous
    November 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Double whammo at the end there – ouch. But you’re lucky it ended only that badly – could have been much worse … but how cool that you got to live your dream, even briefly.

    I’ve never had potato pancakes. They sound like bleh. Potato candy has enough icing sugar to disguise the potato, but it’s bleh also. Now, potatoes with butter or gravy, those are fine. Perhaps that is a clue as to which of the food groups I love and resemble (sugar, salt, or fat) …


  2. jenny_o
    November 25, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Crud. Commenting for the third time. Keep forgetting to type in my email and name. Dang it. Here is the short version: I’m glad you didn’t die!


  3. November 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    Hi Jenny-you came up as “someone” so WordPress was concerned and alerted me, but i recognized the water phobia immediately and knew it was you:-) i have never had potato candy. Frosting you say? Cant be that bad right?


    • jenny_o
      November 25, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Well, let’s just turn that one around – potato pancakes, you say? Can’t be that bad, right? WRONG!

      Please feel free to delete everything else I’ve boxed up and sent you today (comment box, get it?), including this one 🙂


      • November 25, 2014 at 10:55 pm

        Touche, Somebody who may or may not be Jenny_O. Too-shay.


  4. jenny_o
    November 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I’m going back to bed.


  5. November 25, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    You are too funny. We will just blame google, though, right? And i will erase tnge repeats.


  6. geo.
    November 26, 2014 at 4:12 am

    I have mixed feelings about canoes. As Boy Scouts, we used to take them on “survival treks” (prolonged fasts) and learned how hungry we could get on an island. I gained many useful skills but left the Scouts after deciding against a career in homelessness. Still have an aluminum canoe, though. Don’t know how to get rid of it.


    • jenny_o
      November 26, 2014 at 7:31 am

      Put it in the recycling?


    • November 26, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Geo, there must be 50 ways to leave your canoe. Slip it out the back Jack, give it to a clan Stan, You don’t need to be a hoarder, Jorge, just get yourself free. Throw it in the water, Walter, into a River Roger, leave it on the bus Gus, just get yourself free. Okay, I’m done now. That was fun, though. Thank you.


  7. Doug in Oakland
    November 26, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Could you swim whilst this was occurring?


    • November 26, 2014 at 11:15 am

      That would be a negative, Doug. But I think Peggy=Lou may have shoved a life jacket on me before taking me out. I remember being annoyed with her about that, too. She wasn’t wearing one, which didn’t seem fair.


      • Doug in Oakland
        November 26, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        Bad little chicken.

        Liked by 1 person

      • November 27, 2014 at 1:37 am

        It’s true. Bad to the bone.


  8. December 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    What a great tale. That is exactly something I would have done. Yep. We were definitely separated at birth, because together we would have driven Peggy Lou to seek shock treatment. 🙂


    • December 6, 2014 at 12:04 am

      Hi Jayne-in your absence, I managed it myself. But that’s what Peggy-Lou gets for being such a rotten babysitter, right?


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