Prairie Memories by Gary Heintz: May Day Fiasco
May Day baskets were a big deal when I was in the first grade. Students brought May Day baskets to give to schoolmates, and at the end of the day we all went home on a sugar high.
There were several girls in my class I was sweet on, and I asked Mom if she would help me make special baskets for those girls, and if Dad would drive me around to deliver them.
The trick was to deliver the basket to the girl’s door, set it down, knock and run away before she could catch me and kiss me. Having never been kissed by a girl, except my mom and grandma of course, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be kissed, no matter how cute the little girl was.
I ran home in the rain after school, trying not to lose any candy from the May baskets I had received at our party. Mom had my special baskets waiting for me and Dad helped me carry them to the car. Dad drove up in front of each girl’s house, I got out of the car with a basket, reminding Dad to open the car door if he saw a girl chasing me so I could jump in a make a quick getaway.
The plan went well for the first three houses. I quietly set the baskets down, got ready to run, knocked on the door, sprinted to the car, never looking back until I was safely sitting beside Dad on the front seat of our old Plymouth. Then, at the fourth house the plan fell apart. There was a big mud puddle in front of the little girl’s house, so Dad parked on the opposite side of the street. I tip-toed through the mud and around the puddle. My muddy shoes slipped on the porch step and I fell with a thud on the porch, spilling some of the candy from the basket. I looked back at Dad, questioning whether I should call the whole thing off at that point, but he motioned for me to complete my mission. I gathered the spilled candy and set the basket down in front of the door. When I looked up, the little girl was smiling at me through the door window! She threw the door open and chased me down the front steps, screaming that she was going to kiss me. I was desperately trying to get away, and was sure I would make it to the safety of the car after seeing Dad reach across the front seat to open the door for me. As I rounded the front fender, I heard the distinct sound of Dad locking the car door! Then he laughed! He laughed even harder when that cute little girl threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. Three times. Dad finally unlocked the door as the little girl skipped through the mud back to her front door, giggling the whole time. Dad was still chuckling, full of himself for the dirty trick he pulled on his only son. I told him I hated him but I’m not sure he heard me, over his laughing fits.
That night, sure that my life had been ruined, I moped around until Dad gathered me in his arms and hugged me, telling me he was sorry for tricking me, and that he loved me. Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad. I felt safe, out of reach of those cute little girls who torment little boys by always wanting to kiss them. I don’t think I celebrated May Day again until I was much older, and wiser.
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I was tired, driving home from Pierre that warm May afternoon in 1971, tired but happy. My second daughter, Jacqueline Kay had been born that morning. I spent most of the day holding her before…