Friday, February 15, 2008

Flashback Friday…

I’ve decided to flashback to some very dark years in my life. Dark years our family rarely speaks about.

But I can’t stay quiet forever.

I need to break the silence.

I’m talking about…….


Mom and dad never had a lot of extra money lying around. Perhaps that’s because anyone with 7 kids is bound to be broke for life. But somehow, we always had the things we needed and a few extra things we wanted.

Life was good.

Well. Until about 1993 when mom and dad traded hardware supplies with a world renowned orthodontist for braces for 5 of us kids.

The guy was an orthodontic genius who frequently traveled the world training others. Though American, he practiced dentistry on the other side of the border.

Those were the 2 ½ longest… darkest… years of my life. Once a month, we crossed the Mexican border and forever it will haunt us…

I’ve tried to block it out but the occasional nightmare filled with children screaming ‘Chiclets, Chiclets’ while chasing me down the dirty streets of Tijuana wake me and flood my tortured mind with memories.

Our car insurance stopped at the American border so we’d park on the US side and walk across to Tijuana. The big, metal, gates that only spin one way somehow promise that once you leave the United States… you’ll never get back.

Those same gates almost claimed John’s life (This said with the dramatics of a Mexican Soap Opera).

We were walking through the massive metal gates and into Mexico when we heard a long ‘BONG!’ We looked back to see John’s head lodged between the bars on the gate. His flailing body was in Mexico with his screaming head stuck in California.

Once we stopped laughing *cough* I mean, once we ‘assessed the situation’, we recruited some friendly border crossers to hold the gate while we yanked John-E’s head out. He didn’t think it was funny, but the snickering Border Patrol Agents did.

A few months later, John and Mike were required to wear head gear. If you’ve never seen head gear (since most people are ashamed to been seen in public with it) it looks like this:

The orthodontist wouldn’t let John and Mike leave without wearing it so they were forced to go outside… in public… with headgear on. Rather than chalk it up to, ‘These are the embarrassing years in my life and I’m just going to have to deal with it’, they decided to pretend the headgear was a government issued communication device. They would stick their fingers up to the metal protruding from their braced mouths and say, ‘Copy that home base we are on our way’ while busily walking down the streets in Tijuana.

I’m very sure that 13 year old boys with head gear were believable as CIA agents.

Our family group was predominantly female and my two older sisters were gorgeous skinny blonde model types. Unfortunately, this prompted a lot of male gawking and frequent dirty words and gestures. Trying to avoid this, mom would tell us to look at the ground and keep walking – fast.

What she didn’t say was… ‘Watch where you are going’.

That would have been helpful.

As we were walking home one afternoon, I walked full speed into a street sign and knocked myself off my feet.

Sitting on the littered sidewalk, I was suddenly surrounded by tiny children taking advantage of my incapacitated state. ‘Chiclets! Chiclets! Chiclets!’ they yelled. I tried to scream for mom but she took her own advice and kept her eyes down while ‘walking’ about as fast as an Olympic marathon runner.


We survived those years… barely… and we all have beautiful straight teeth but we will forever be haunted our Mexican past (and forever laugh about them over Sunday dinners while mimicking John’s head stuck sideways in the gates – arms flailing).

Thank you Mexico?

And here are some pictures from mom. A fluke storm hit San Diego...

All in favor of global warming say 'Aye'...


Lisa C Magnus said...

AYE!!! I so remember John getting his head stuck in that gate. I wasn't there I just remember us laughing Oh I mean being very concerned over that whole situation.:)

Lizzie M. said...

At least they didn't shine a flashlight in your face and demand country of origin!! Um, hello, I'm fourteen, white as snow with freckles and red hair (well water red). What do you think pal?

Oh, the memories....:-)

sewcreative said...

Don't forget how they also frisked Michael while we were trying to just get out of there. Poor John and Michael. I felt worse for you girls though. I wished I could have slapped every guy who whistled, stared and made horrible remarks. And that poor woman on the bridge who made her money by begging was a killer for me. I always thought she was probably married to some looser who sent her out with the kids to beg and wasn't permitted back unless she made a certain quota. She broke my heart. The smell was the worse though and I was always ready to kiss the ground on the American side once we crossed the border. Mexico? No thank you!

Love, mom

Nicole said...

It's loser, LOSER! I thought we went over this Mrs. Hays:) Am I just being petty or do I have my dad's propensity to be right?

Anonymous said...

OMG!! I just about spit my drink out reading that. That was hilarious! I feel bad (snicker)that you kids. Seriously...I feel bad. =)

Nicole said...

I'm glad you have some recollection of Mexico as I have blocked it out of my memory. Every once in a while I have a dream about a Chihuahua on a spicket but then it all goes dark.