Having a babysitter meant that Judy Darrows was coming over to watch us.
Judy was awesome. She was sixteen years old, had tight Jordache jeans, and wore a roach clip with feathers in the prettiest, most shellacked feathered hair that I have forever filed away in my memory.
My brother Mike and I got to eat pizza in the living room and stay up late when Judy came over. After my brother went to sleep, I was allowed to stay up and watch The Love Boat. As Judy and I got to be closer she let me stay up for an extra hour and watch Fantasy Island too. I liked Judy.
During my teenage years, before my job at the video store I did a little babysitting of my own.
I was pretty bad at it.
I was not a little girl or a teenager who loved babies or kids. I always told my parents I didn’t even want kids of my own, I just didn’t have that maternal chip.
I babysat regularly for a family down the street, the Marzak’s. They had a girl who was around four and a boy who was around six. They were okay kids, easygoing and obsessed with the game Trouble, the one with the pop-o-matic bubble.
Here are some things I liked about babysitting for the Marzak Family:
• Kid food.
I loved the allure of a pantry filled with products that would never be purchased at our house. Twinkies? Little chocolate donuts? Ritz Crackers and a big brick of cheddar? They told me to help myself, and boy, did I ever. If I put as much energy into playing hide and go seek with their kids as I did sneaking spoonfuls of Duncan Heinz frosting, I would have been awesome! Whenever it was my turn to hide I would hide in the pantry. With my spoon and my frosting.
• Cool movies.
When the kids were sawing logs, I got bored. I would rummage through their VHS and Beta collection. There was one tape, tucked waaaaaaay behind the others with the words I Love Lucy written on a piece of masking tape on the outside of the case. Guess what? It wasn’t I Love Lucy. It was a vague story about a woman named Lucy, and a lot of guys (and girls) who loved her. I gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up!
• Playing dress up.
Mrs. Marzak had a giant walk-in closet with some fur coats and hats. I liked to dress up and fancy myself the lady of the house. She had some great jewelry too. I would pile on her things and stare at myself in the mirror, striking dramatic poses and giving pouty model looks. I also loved her giant, yellow triangle bottle of Liz Claiborne perfume. I wonder if she ever smelled it on me as she was handing me the money I had earned for working so hard.
One day while I was busy standing in front of the food, the kids were running around playing a game of indoor freeze tag when a lamp got knocked over. I swept up the glittery shards of glass from the light bulb and put them where any smart babysitter would dispose of them - in the garbage disposal. I flicked the switch and listened to the grinding and buzzing noise that came from the sink. Crisis averted, I didn’t give it a second thought and didn’t say a word to Mr. or Mrs. Marzak about it. Why the hell I didn’t put the evidence in the garbage can as opposed to the garbage disposal I have no idea. I suppose I was attempting to hide the evidence, but why? A broken light bulb? Come on.
A day or two later my parents got a call from Mr. Marzak. He explained to my dad that they had found ground up light bulb in their sink and that their disposal was broken and now needed to be replaced. I confessed in my usual fashion – by bawling my way through it. I did a lot of free babysitting for the Marzak kids that summer to pay for that stupid disposal.
There were many months of Trouble ahead for me.
“Cuz' you know where there are kids, there’s Trouble...”