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Subterfuge (suhb-ter-fyooj)

By scherryl antoniadis

Sadly, it seems that we live in a time when whether you get your news from the Internet, TV, radio or newspaper, much of it is discouraging. As I get my news from all of these sources, I have found that rarely a day goes by without some sort of scandal breaking out — be it political, financial and/or sexual in nature.

Inevitably, the investigations into these scandals ultimately reveal subterfuge on the part of the perpetrators.

Subterfuge:  An all-purpose noun used to describe an article or expedient to evade, escape or conceal something, can be committed at varying levels. For example, if you have ever stolen a cookie from the kitchen cabinet and tried to shift the blame to your baby brother by scattering cookie crumbs on his high chair, you have committed subterfuge, albeit on a relatively small scale. On the other hand, if you were one of the Watergate burglars, you are guilty of subterfuge on a very large scale indeed.

Although I am sure that I myself, tried to avoid taking responsibility for my mistakes many times while growing up, there is one instance in particular that I fear I will never live down. In fact, it has made me infamous among my family and friends.

It all started on a warm summer day.  My folks had left the house early and did not plan on returning home until late in the evening. I was put in charge of my three younger siblings.

Following a light breakfast, I started washing the dishes (being the good daughter that I am), while my youngest brother and sister amused themselves by rolling my Dad’s beautiful new bowling ball across the kitchen floor. On a whim, I picked up the ball and announced to the two of them that I would show them “how Dick Weber would do it.” As I began to demonstrate my bowling technique, I suddenly realized – much to my horror – that my hands were still soapy. Too late . . . the ball slipped out of my hand and hit the corner of the kitchen wall, leaving a large, half-moon dent in its wake.

As the ball made impact, pictures fell from the wall onto the floor as particles of dry wall began floating in the air (our home was newly-built and the walls were not yet painted). The three of us instantly froze while our faces lost all color and our young lives flashed before our eyes. We desperately began considering our options: entering the Witness Protection Program did not seem feasible; we were too young to join the Merchant Marines; and fleeing to Canada or Mexico would be far too expensive. We had just about given up all hope of getting out of our predicament, and began resigning ourselves to the fact that we would be grounded until our mid-40s, when our sister Kathy came home. After sizing up the situation, she immediately claimed that she had the answer to our prayers. She went into the garage and, returning with a putty gun, confidently announced that “this is the stuff that they used to build our walls; we just need to fill the dent and Mom and Dad will never notice.”

Although Kathy was only 11 or 12 years old at this time, I wanted to believe her with every fiber of my being, so we began to fill our dent with the putty. For good measure, I paid each of my siblings who witnessed my mea culpa 50 cents for their silence (mind you, this was not a shabby bribe in 1967).

After many hours had passed, the putty was still nowhere near dry; yet Kathy insisted that by morning it would not only be dry, it would match the color of the dry wall. I was not totally confident that I was home free, but I continued to pray for the best and went to bed. In spite of all of the excitement of the day, I slept soundly and did not hear my parents come home.

The next morning dawns . . . Mom and Dad greeted us like it was just another day in our home — happy and harmonious. They told us about what a wonderful time they had on their day out and talked about what was on the schedule for the upcoming weekend.  Not a word was said about the drama of the previous day, until . . . I begin to get ready for a girl’s night out when I overhear my folks talking about their evening plans.  Suddenly Dad calls out to me from the kitchen “you know Honey, if your Mom and I ever want a hole in our bedroom wall, we’re going to call you because you did a beautiful job in the kitchen.”

Needless to say, I was a deer in the highlights with nowhere to run. Realizing the jig was up, I simply replied, “Oh, you saw that?” Through their laughter, my Mom said, “Scherryl, your father and I were out all day and most of the evening, had a couple of cocktails, and came home very tired, and still the first thing I said to him when we walked into the house was “what the heck happened to our wall?”  Everyone doubled over in laughter at this point.

As you may have already surmised, when it comes to parents, my siblings and I won the lottery. Not only were my folks not angry with me, my indoor bowling career (while short-lived) has become one of their absolute favorite family stories.

On a final note:  I found out years later that, in spite of my generous pay-off to them, both my little brother and little sister eventually ratted me out — so much for family loyalty!

 

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