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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

(9) "JUST A MINUTE, YOUNG LADY," SAID OFFICER SIMEONE.

November 8, 1960
Cohasset
     Louis Simeone is in the doghouse with Vonnie.  She told her father and me that of all the policemen in town, he was the meanest and she hated him.  We cried in unison, "Why?  Why?" because we think he's very nice.
     Vonnie and Cindy were horseback riding the day before.  They were approaching the center of town when Louis drove up, climbed out of the police car, and told the girls they were not supposed to ride on the sidewalk.
     "Oh, I didn't know," said Vonnie.  As the fair young equestriennes turned around, Heidi— who I'm sure meant nothing  personal by it—bombarded the sidewalk in front of Officer  Simeone.  Louis jumped out of the way and then called after Vonnie, "Just a minute, young lady."
     "Who, me?"  She stopped reluctantly and looked over her shoulder.  ("It was so embarrassing, Mummy!")
     "Yes, you," said Louis.  "You'll have to clean off this walk."
     "I can't," she said.  "My horse would get away."
     "I'll hold your horse."
     "She's afraid of men.  She might bite you."
     "Then tie her."
     "She might break the rope."  ("I didn't really think she would," Vonnie told us, "I just didn't want to clean up the sidewalk in front of the whole town.")
     Louis would brook no further excuses; anticipating the next one, he hauled a shovel out of the police car.  Tying Heidi to a tree, Vonnie grudgingly shoveled off the sidewalk.  Was Simeone Legree satisfied?  No.  He sent her up to the station for a broom.  At last the job met his approval and the girls were allowed to go on their way.
     "Goodbye!" Louis called cheerfully, but they didn't look back.

February 19, 1961
      Monday night Vonnie and I went to Thayer Academy for a junior class conference with representatives from various colleges and junior colleges.  One of the speakers mentioned a girl who went on from junior college to get her bachelor’s degree at another institution.  Vonnie poked me and said, “Can a girl get a bachelor’s degree?”   
       “Certainly,” I say.    
       “Even if she’s married?”
SHE STRUCK A HAUGHTY POSE.
       I'm afraid Vonnie didn't concentrate as well as she should have on these talks so vital to her future.  In the middle of another informative discussion she nudged me again, showed me two little pink marks on her wrist, and whispered, “A vampire bit me.”
      Sometimes I think she was born to be a comedienne.  The other night she waltzed into my room  and struck a haughty pose.  I noticed she had sprouted a prominent bosom.   
     “You do look a little like Brigit Bardot,” I conceded. “Have you got something on under there?”
     “You didn’t think it was me, did you?” she said.  Then she stepped on the scales and her face fell.  “Oh dear, I’ve lost weight again.  I’m only 108—and that’s with my falsies on!”
     Vonnie is the sole person I know who can effortlessly perform a stunt that’s been the latest rage in Cohasset.  You draw a star on a piece of paper, hold a hand mirror in back of it, and try to trace the reflected image.  Someone holds a second piece of paper a few inches over the first, so the person being tested can’t see the original drawing.  Many people are able to trace laboriously two or three points, but then they bog down in a messy little squiggle, as helpless as if they were handcuffed.
     Not our Vonnie.  She traced the reflected star with hardly a pause and said, “What’s so hard about that?”
     Ed and I exchanged pained looks, having proved ourselves to be champion squigglers.
     “It’s really very simple,” he said.  “She has a mirror up there instead of a brain.”
April 28, 1961
Cohasset
     When I was in Fort Lauderdale I bought a pair of red, white, and blue pumps—cute and nautical as they could be—and a white straw purse with a red fringe.  The purse had anchors of red‑and‑blue felt on the lid; I stowed it away on my closet shelf, intending to save it for this summer.  Tuesday morning Vonnie asked me if I "happened to have" a small straw bag she could borrow until she got one of her own—her black one was so big and it looked so wintery.  I said I did happen to have just such a bag, and she could borrow it if she would promise to take very special care of it.
     Yesterday afternoon I drove over to Thayer and was waiting outside the gym when Vonnie came out with her coat slung over one arm and my valued property swinging by its handle from her teeth.
     "Vonnie, take that out of your mouth!" I called through the window.  "I don't want teeth marks all over the handle."
     She removed it long enough to assure me she was holding it very gently, then put it back in her mouth and opened the door.
     "But you'll get lipstick on it!  Take that thing out of your mouth this minute!"
     "I don't have any lipstick on," she said amiably, climbing into the car.  She set the pocketbook on the floor, which was covered with sand and dirt as usual.
     "Honestly, Vonnie!" I said, reaching for the bag.  "Not on the floor!"
     "Careful."  She tossed her coat in the back seat.  "It has mice in it."
     I stopped, my hand still outstretched, and stared at her.  I got back a level look that convinced me she was joking.  I said, "Very funny," and reached for the bag again.
     "Mummy, I'm not kidding," Vonnie said.  "It has mice in it."
     "Mice?" I squeaked.  "Oh, come on, Vonnie."  Then I became aware of a strong, musty odor drifting up from the floor and realized your sister was not joking:  there were mice in my pocketbook.
     "I'm doing an experiment for Biology," she explained briskly.  "I didn't have to, I volunteered.  You give one of them  a well balanced diet and the other one coke and stuff like that.   Boy, you ought to see the pictures in my biology book—the one that gets the coke is a mess!"
     "Vonnie," I said numbly, "— my new pocketbook—"
     "Don't worry, it won't smell.  I lined it with lots of paper."
     Not one word about those mice until I reached for my pocketbook.  It was thoughtful of her, I suppose, not to wait until I opened it.

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