Sunday, May 1, 2011
May Day: A Sordid Little Tale
It's May Day today. I remembered when I saw an image of this Wyeth painting and the little tradition we had while growing up came to mind. You might have grown up with this one too: small homemade baskets filled with candy, tied with ribbon and left on neighbor's doorsteps. You ring the doorbell, then run. Ours went something like that but with a country twist of more knocking than ringing. Most folks we knew didn't have a doorbell. There was also some kissing involved that may or may not have been traditional.
This is how it happened in my neck of the woods: a small basket made of construction paper, decorated with crayon colored flowers and tied with ribbon you curl with a pair of scissors (rather poorly if memory serves me), put some candy inside and there you have it. We would make up a few of these, drive around to various neighbors who were often our cousins, leave it on their doorstep and run like hell, hoping (usually) that we wouldn't get caught and thus kissed. This sounds like a Jeff Foxworthy joke, but, sadly, it's not.
The only May Day I recall with anything close to clarity was when we drove over to a neighbors a bit further away. My brother who was ten years older than I and the oldest of my siblings had a girlfriend who for reasons left to the distant past was at the wheel. Let me just say, sometimes the older kids liked to torture the younger kids. Such was the case on this May Day.
This is how it all went down: we drove up their long driveway (didn't everybody have a long driveway back then?), and parked the car. Then, my sister and I with much trepidation stepped out with basket in hand. The boy inside was pudgy and wore glasses. He also liked to tease and we were pretty certain he would try to kiss us if caught. Scary stuff.
We knew what had to be done. We would set the basket on the steps and immediately be on the run, hightailing it back to the car as fast as our sturdy little mid-western legs could carry us.
There was just one glitch. When we got to the car my brother's girlfriend had locked all the doors making it impossible to get back inside and make our getaway. We could see her laughing as we tried to open every door, keeping the boy who was now in hot pursuit as far away as possible. Round and round the car we went until all hope was gone. He caught me and planted a kiss on my cheek. Nothing too disturbing, right? Wrong. I was not happy. When I was allowed back in the car I sat in the back seat seething. I could do seething pretty well back then.
So, that's my May Day basket story, sordid little tale that it is. I won't be making any deliveries this year but may I say, ahem, a Happy May Day to you all. Let's pretend that I'm leaving a basket on each of your doorsteps. Then I'll pretend to be running away, wondering if the car doors are locked.
Andrew Wyeth "May Basket"