A Long-Ago Moment That Will Live Forever

Melissa, Adam and Naomi a few years after the event in this post.

Dull moments were a rare luxury when Sandra and I were still living with our three teenagers — Naomi, Adam and Melissa — back around 1990, give or take a few years.

However, one particular anything-but-dull moment stands out. It happened early one weekday morning when we were all still in bed, catching a few final winks.

This photo was taken in 1989 (the year of Adam’s bar mitzvah), which was a few years before the event in this post.

Let me set the scene. All the kids had their own bedrooms. The master bedroom and the two girls’ bedrooms were all on the same side of the house, facing the home of our friends Dave and Glenda (and their two kids) across a “no man’s land,” not much more than 10–12 feet wide. (Most homes in Hawaii were/are packed pretty tight, thanks to the high cost of land.) Our neighbors were already in the kitchen, directly across from Melissa and Naomi’s bedrooms.

Melissa was notoriously hard to awaken. Her latest stratagem in the struggle to rise and shine on time for school was to put her alarm clock on the table across the room from her bed. The theory was that she’d have to walk across the room to turn the thing off. It usually got her out of bed. But not on the morning in question.

More scene-setting: Melissa’s room had a bunk bed. Sometimes, depending on the state of clutter on the two mattresses, she’d sleep on the lower bunk, sometimes on the upper one. On this particular morning she was “upstairs.” And she’d stayed up late the night before. As a result, the alarm failed to penetrate her sleepy, foggy brain. It kept ringing. In the next room though, Naomi heard it and after it was clear that Melissa was oblivious to the noise, Naomi started banging on their common wall, launching a stream of expletives at Melissa, “encouraging” her to get out of bed and turn the damn thing off.

No response. Not for what seemed to the rest of us — all wide awake by now — an eternity.

At long last, Melissa roused herself and rolled out of bed.

Not, however, before she remembered that she was not on the lower mattress.

She plunged to the floor, landing with a resounding THUNK! And unleashing her own stream of expletives.

It was the multiple layers of clothing — both clean and not-so-clean-but-not-yet-quite-capable-of-walking-off-by-themselves, just like the laundry in all three kids’ rooms — that gave Melissa a soft landing.

A few more expletives later, she stumbled across the room and hurled the clock against the wall.

We could hear Glenda and her teenage daughter McKenzie cracking up across the way.

And so began another day in the adventurous lives of our “Gang of Five.”

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