Hollywood Park, Texas, teemed with children in the early 1970s but my playtime involved only a handful of them. Beverly and Suzie, who were in the same grade as me, lived less than a block away, which was geographically convenient. I liked being in different places but did not care much for bicycling very far to get to them. It did not hurt that Beverly’s father owned a candy company because every birthday party or, if Beverly attended someone else’s party, every gift involved piles of candy. Smarties and Chick-O-Stick were perennial favorites but that was before the invention of Snickers miniatures.
When the girls came to my house they would often go into the bathroom together and giggle. I did not yet understand that girls routinely spend time together in bathrooms — it transcends hobby status for many of them and verges on a calling — so I saw it as my masculine purpose to interrupt the behavior, which I considered suspicious. The lock on a bathroom door could easily be flipped from the outside by means of a small screwdriver, and I kept such an implement in my upper-left dresser drawer for the sole purpose of bursting in on Beverly and Suzie when they were in my bathroom, giggling.
After one of my bathroom raids, the girls became agitated to the point of chasing me through the house, squealing as they ran after me. I took refuge in a shower stall, sitting on the shower floor with my feet elevated and wedged against the middle of the door.
Suzie, on the outside but wanting to get inside, turned and bounced her rear end against the glass. Beverly cheered her on. Bounce, bounce, bounce. The third bounce was, technically, not a bounce at all, given Suzie’s advance through the door. Flakes of glass rained down. Luckily, she managed not to fall onto me.
Daddy, who had been out of the house, arrived home to find the three of us kids sitting on the sofa, looking grimly like people in a police lineup would look if lineups of ten-year-olds were conducted on sofas.
“What?” he asked. Beverly and Suzie and I looked at each other as if we were a row on the opening credits of the Brady Bunch. While, strictly speaking, it was Suzie who crashed through the shower door, it was my house, so the onus of confession fell on me.
“We broke something.” The three of us looked at each other some more.
“The shower door.”
“How?” Daddy had a Gary Cooper-like taciturnity when it came to interrogation.
We explained our respective versions of the circumstances, all of us at once. It was like a two-minute version of Rashomon. Daddy suppressed a chuckle; he wasn’t angry. In fact, I wonder now if he was sufficiently pleased that I was playing with girls at all, much less being chased by them, that he forgave the trouble and expense of replacing the shower door through which Suzie crashed that day in Hollywood Park, Texas.