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FOUNTAIN OF WISDOM

Written By Al Jones

Tune In Mondays
I’ve heard a bit of rumbling lately regarding young people roaming around late at night and some of the trouble they cause. I think a lot of us forget that we, too, were young once and that getting into mischief is sometimes part of the learning process. Despite the angry comments of, “Why don’t their parents do something about their kids?” I truly believe that this is not a new dilemma of modern times, but an ongoing challenge for each generation to endure, learn and hopefully teach. How many of us can truly say we, ourselves, were angels? I’m reminded of a time that I, myself, am not particularly proud of, but how my mother handled it, helped me to learn.  

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…..I was no angel growing up. The only reason that I am the man I am today, is because my mother always forced me to make good the things I’d done bad.

I recall one particular incident when I was about fifteen. Some friends and I thought it would be fun to steal this huge water fountain out of a neighbour’s yard. We had no use for it. Lord knows it weighed a ton and we darned near broke our backs carrying it off in the middle of the night. It took us nearly two hours to move it a mere two blocks away so as to hide it behind an old shed. Did we want it for ourselves? Nope. Were we going to sell it? Nope. Like I said….we thought it would be funny….I didn’t say we were smart.

Two days later, I came in the door from school and my Mom was holding up a pair of my jeans and a t-shirt. “What’s this?” she asks as she points to some brown paint on the jeans.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged.

“It sort of looks like paint, doesn’t it?” she pressed.

“I don’t know…I guess,” I shrugged again. With that, she carried it downstairs with the rest of the laundry.

Now, for those that have never met my mother, I assure you, her questions regarding my laundry were a set-up for later. “Later” came at supper time. “So, did you hear? Someone stole Mrs. Cartwright’s water fountain the other night.” I looked up from my meatloaf and into the eyes of a female version of Sherlock Holmes. “She was especially upset, because she had just spent the whole afternoon putting on some kind of waterproof paint to hide any water rust stains,” she continued on while watching my reaction. “You know….funny thing about waterproof paint. They use it on boats. Yup. Doesn’t wash off no matter how hard you scrub. Doesn’t wash off of cement, steel, wood or even denim.”

I could no longer look her in the eye. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Being as Mom made a great meatloaf, I’m pretty sure the sick feeling was caused by fear and panic. “Yes sireee… I’d hate to be the culprits when the police get a hold of whoever stole that fountain,” she continued to needle.

“May I be excused? …. I’m not very hungry,” I stammered.

“Sure. Why don’t you go out and get some fresh air? You look a little pale.”

As soon as I got out the door, I ran to get my buddies. “I think my Mom knows,” I informed them in a panic stricken tone. “We’ve got to put that thing back so that the police stop looking!” So, here we were, four idiots scared out of our wits and waiting ‘til dark so as to return a sixty bazillion pound fountain without being seen. Although it took us nearly two hours to steal it, it barely took us an hour to return it. It’s funny how fear can make you stronger. This was one practical joke that had definitely backfired.

The morning after returning the stolen fountain, I awoke to clean laundry. The paint had washed out of my jeans. I remember walking by Mrs. Cartwright’s house later in the day. Funny thing… it was grey cement. In the daylight, it was plain to the eye that it had never been painted. All three of my friends and I were indeed punished. Not for stealing the fountain, but for coming home late on a school night. Mom never mentioned the fountain again…..not even it’s mysterious return.

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