“Did I just say “kidnapping?”
When you are hopelessly in love, you will do anything.
You have no control.
You are ruled by your ever demanding heart.
You ignore the rights and listen to the wrongs.
You BEG your friends at recess to help you.
Did I just say “recess”?
You show off your most attractive physical feature (in my case…my legs) by not wearing corduroy pants under your pink dress when it is terribly cold outside even though your mother told you that you’d better wear them…or else.
Did I just say “corduroy”?
You brag about a lifestyle that doesn’t exist…except for the “pancakes” part.
“Did I just say “pancakes”?
And when all that fails…you lie.
“So, Jimmy…and you too, Wesley…my mother has said I can bring two friends home for lunch today and I have picked you guys because I know you are the best of friends…and I want to be your best friend too!”
Seeing the doubt in their eyes, you recklessly continue…
“My mother makes the best pancakes in the world!!”
And so on that Spring day in 1950 at noon, me, Jimmy (dearest love of my life) and his best friend, Wesley walked, ran and skipped the seven blocks from Cherry Hill Elementary School…where we were all first graders…to my house where my mother was waiting for me to come home for lunch.
She had a tuna fish sandwich with soft Wonder white bread (it was 1950, after all) an apple cut in slices and a glass of whole milk (to build strong bones) waiting for me…just like she did every day since that was my very favorite.
There was no pancake batter sitting on the counter waiting to be added to a sizzling, hot skillet.
There was only one plate on the table…not three.
Suddenly, Jimmy stopped skipping and burst out, “I can’t go to your house! If I don’t come home for lunch, my ma will kill me!!!!!!”
And then, Jimmy, the love of my life, turned and ran like the wind down the street towards his house.
“I’m still coming!” said Wesley to me. “I love pancakes!”
So Wesley and I slowly trudged the one more block to my house. Okay. Okay. Only I trudged.
We dragged ourselves up the back stairs of the duplex where I lived. Okay. Okay. Only I dragged.”
“MOM!!!” I shouted as I banged open the back-screen door.
“I brought my friend Wesley home for lunch…can we have pancakes? I sort of promised.”
Did I just say “sort of”?
I walked further into the kitchen and sat down at my place at the table.
Wesley stood shyly by the door…not knowing where he should sit…a scared smile starting to appear on his little black face.
“Did I just say “black”?
My mother came out from the living room where she had been “hoovering” while she waited for me to come home for lunch.
Did I just say “hoovering”?
“Oh, hi mom. This is Wesley. I invited him and Jimmy Preston (the love of my life, although I didn’t say that, then) home for lunch.”
“I told them we could have your fantastic pancakes. Jimmy changed his mind and went home. But Wesley didn’t.”
“Hello…um…Judy’s mom.” Said Wesley who didn’t know my last name or unfortunately…as it turned out later…his own phone number.
“Hello, Wesley! said my mother, giving Wesley one of her big, friendly smiles. My mom was always happy and friendly. Everyone loved my mom…and her pancakes.
She walked over to the kitchen table and pulled out a chair for Wesley.
“You can sit here, dear.” she said. And as Wesley walked over to sit in the chair, she moved over to the kitchen counter, reached up to take down her big “pancake” bowl, grabbed it and then paused…as she looked at the two of us sitting at the kitchen table.
“Your mother knows you’re here, doesn’t she, Wesley?” asked my mother.
“No, ma’am” said Wesley politely. Then he slowly tilted his head to the side…perhaps wondering for the first time if his choice to have pancakes this day was not a good one.
Here is the part where my mother swears a lot, drops the pancake bowl and somehow keeps smiling…
Here is also the part where Wesley’s unknown phone number complicates things…
“I think there is an eight and a six…” offered Wesley hopefully.
And further… no one at Cherry Hill is available to answer the frantic calls made by my mother…since they were very busy looking for the missing Wesley.
Soon there were a lot of policemen and police cars…but no sirens.
“Did I just say policemen”?
I saw Wesley’s mother. She looked like she had been crying but my mom was hugging her so I guess everything was all right. No one was hugging Wesley or me.
The front-page headline of the paper the next day said:
“6-Year-Old Boy Kidnapped By Best Friend.”
The smaller headline had a quote from Wesley.
“I just wanted some pancakes!”
Jimmy Preston (the love of my life) moved at the end of first grade and I never saw him again.
P.S. We never got any pancakes.