After making the great escape I would find the most comfortable corner of our dining room floor. We had the ever popular golden-yellow shag carpet, with the slightest hints of the other popular color, hints of the
1960’s green. Being a child I remember that Mummy wanted shag carpet, not only because every carpet salesman talked them into it, but because everyone was told, “we guarantee you’ll never loose that plush look, you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood”. I truly believe every house wife must have been told the same thing. I don’t think there was one house we entered that didn’t have shag carpet installed, or didn’t believe the salesmen. All I remember was the so-called “guaranteed, plush, shag look” was matted within 6 months or less. I was always surprised later in life that they weren’t all sued. Wherever the shag was installed the floors were starting to look like a poodle after a bath, or a long-haired dog that hadn’t been groomed in over a year. Once a week my Mum would get a small rake, so that it would pick up the carpet to get back that shag plush look. Sometimes it worked, most times it didn’t. Yet the one place you could absolutely feel the once beautiful shag plush feel was always in the corners. No one walked in the corners and you could still put your little hands in the corners, which always left a sunken in image. It was like making a snow angel during the winter, always feeling like you left your body for the world to see. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough carpet for your body, small or large, only your hand. I found my corner between the veneer china closet and Buffett set, there was no way anyone could see me. I was happy, content and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.
As I was peaking over the table for just a second, I noticed Mummy had already served dessert; chocolate fondue. If there was anything as a child that was never around unless adults were present was it; milk chocolate fondue. The smooth warm feeling you had when you dipped the goodies into the fondue pot. The bit of brownies, pound cake, marshmallows, and the favorite ladyfingers. Mummy always had to have fresh fruit too. The strawberries, apples and, bananas. Whenever my mum had this after the fondue dinner all the church ladies would bring in the dipping items so we didn’t go broke on dessert, a pastor didn’t make that much money.
Now my next goal was to find something, anything that resembled melted chocolate, but I knew it was gone. No brownies to dip, no strawberries, and the worst, no lady fingers. It was a sin, a sin not to give a small child chocolate fondue and lady fingers. We were growing to be young ladies, yet we weren’t allowed the pleasure of eating dinner or dessert with the adults, sitting on the floor in the sunken living on bean bags, lounging, or just hanging out. The kids had their room, the kitchen and boring playroom. My Daddy always said, in a I’m kidding, sort of, way, “Children can be heard but not seen”. I would say, “Daddy that doesn’t sound right? Isn’t it seen but not heard?” Daddy would look at Mummy with a smirk on his face and say, “Remember I’m your daddy that won’t let you open up Christmas gifts until I’ve had my tea”, I never thought it was funny, but I was just a kid.
I ran in and out of the kitchen, still sneaking around, but there wasn’t even a little left over chocolate fondue on the stove. It was gone, but I didn’t have time to check anywhere else, I had to tip toe back to my dining room corner. I sat in my corner and then heard Mummy say, “Who would like some coffee?” My eyes nearly popped out hearing the word “coffee”. The rich flavor of coffee, with or without cream and sugar. Just the aroma of coffee made a child like me, want a cup, I always wanted what I couldn’t have, but this was coffee?! It was the after dinner hot drink for church goers and adults only. The caffeine that kept everyone up, which I heard, but didn’t know why everyone drank it before bed? As a child I was only allowed tea, never coffee, all I would hear was, “It’s not good for you”. “But Mummy” not quite understanding the logic, “why is it okay for you? If we can drink tea, and its hot, why can’t I have coffee?” Mummy and Daddy would always say the same thing, “When you’re 13 you’ll be able to have your first cup of coffee, that’s something you can look forward to” I would get so upset, “But Daddy its so far! Can’t I have just a little bit and you can add a lot of milk?” “No Darling”, Mummy said “not yet, maybe one day for a treat”. Which always meant, “stop talking about this”.
Living in England it was tea time every day, not just before supper. Tea with my oatmeal, tea time at 4pm with biscuits and sandwiches, how we ever ate supper was amazing. Earl Grey, Ty-Phoo, PG Tips, of course all loose tea, never a tea bag entered my tea cup. My mum would pour boiling water to heat the tea pot, swirl it around, then dump it into the sink. Then put the desired amount of tea into the tea pot, pour the hot water in the pot, and ever so gently place a tea cozy over the fragile tea pot to keep it hot. Never before 3 minutes could a cup of tea be poured. It had to sit, like a fine glass of wine. The art of drinking tea were like children being brought up on wine in France, only we didn’t look like little alcholics, we were ever so proper. Tea was a stable, yet when a grown up was served coffee, children were never allowed it, it was like a foreign item, something I couldn’t wait to taste the minute I turned 13. I watched Mummy pour the black rich brew into each cup, asking “Cream or sugar”? It sounded so sophisticated. British tea was served with milk, no one was asked if I wanted “cream or sugar”? After I lingered over the chocolate fondue that wasn’t there and the coffee, I couldnt have, I just sat in my corner finally listening to the adults conversation. Sometimes it was over my head, I had no clue what they were saying and other times it was about our next trip for my daddy’s ministry. I loved listening and finding out about traveling before any of my sisters. Other times it was information about certain members of the church I knew shouldn’t of been listening to. No matter who the company was, what the food consisted of, the delicate aroma of the coffee and fondue, I had the time of my life.
The night was getting older and the guests were beginning to say their goodbyes, I knew I had to time myself to get back to my bed before I was worse for wear. My nights imaging my life as an adult, even for the short time that was spent with them, were the best nights of my younger days as a child.