I always thought I would look back on my childhood with a fondness of the days I was still innocent and full of wonder. To do that, though, I should have filled my days playing fairies in the rose garden. No, my childhood was dirt ground into my knees, wild hair and pilfered fruit, and, on this particular day, roofing nails and homemade glue.
We were sure that there had been a robber snooping around my friend’s house. We weren’t just sure–we were positive. We had watched enough of the Olsen twins detective stories and played enough detective Barbie to know what clues looked like. On the barn door, the clue was obviously the thing that looked like a water spot. There are never normal water spots on barn doors in the movies, thus it was a clue. Our second clue was found right by the recently repaired siding of the house: a partial footprint, definitely a man’s (no girl would rob Katie’s house!). We searched the yard for more clues, but decided that we only needed two when we found none.
No one would believe us enough to call the police, even after we showed them the proof, so it was up to us to catch them. We came up with several plans of attack: a bucket of water over the door, sticky substance on the stall floor, but they all seemed like too much work. So, after some intense brainstorming, we arrived at the conclusion that we would catch the criminals as they pull their dark van into the driveway. And what better way to catch them than to pop their tires! My oldest brother was working as a roofer that summer, so I borrowed a string of nails from the bucket in the garage. We didn’t have any cement, and Elmer’s glue wouldn’t stick to the sidewalk, so we decided to make glue. Katie said you could make glue with flour and water, but I was skeptical, so we added sticky substances like honey and syrup for good measure. As we were stirring our concoction, Katie’s older sister and her best friend (aka the two Nicoles) attempted to talk us out of it. “You’ll get grounded,” and “We’re gonna tell!” nearly had Katie chucking the whole plan out the window. After careful persuasion and visions of heroism, she was back on my side, however, and we hurried outside to shouts of “You’re a bad influence, Leisl!”
We figured the robber would have to drive over the sidewalk to get in the driveway, so we recruited my younger sister and Katie’s younger brother to hold the nails while we molded the gooey muck around them. The glue wasn’t drying fast enough to keep the nails up, however, so we decided to leave it and come back to it later. We left the nails at their weird angle, irritated that our plan hadn’t worked, and wandered inside for a snack and a rerun of Full House. All thoughts of catching thieves were replaced by the chaos of the Tanner’s, so when the doorbell rang, we thought nothing of it. At least, until Katie’s mom screeched our names from the front entrance. We scurried over to her, wondering what it was that we had done. Her face was enraged. “This is the paper boy,” She introduced us angrily. We peeked around her to a 13 year old boy with a dejected look on his face. I didn’t even know we had a paper boy. “He was making his rounds today when his tires were popped by nails on the sidewalk. Do you girls happen to know where those nails came from?!” We eyed him suspiciously. Who rides their bike on the sidewalk? Moreover, who doesn’t watch where they’re riding? We had placed those nails strategically so that we couldn’t catch anything but a robber’s van. I gasped and whispered to Katie, “He must be the robber!”
Katie’s mom wouldn’t listen to our reasoning, and instead insisted that we clean it up before she got back from driving the paper boy to the rest of his rounds, or there would be trouble. We knew her well enough to know that she meant it. We mumbled apologies to the paperboy, and scrambled out to scrape the nails off the sidewalk.
“What a dork,” I thought, ” The glue’s not even dry! And to any bike rider, the nails were obvious!” “So now how are we going to catch our thief?!” I cried to Katie.
“There is no thief, Leisl! And now we’re in trouble.” She acted like it was all my fault.
“Well,” I huffed, “don’t blame me when something gets stolen!” Katie just shook her head and rolled her eyes in response.
I used to wonder why Katie’s mom seemed to get tense whenever I came over. Looking back on my childhood now, however, I wonder why she even let me.