I will start this story by telling you that I readily admit, though I can't be completely sure, that it was probably my idea to splatter paint the basement ceiling.
Even though both my sister and I participated in as much active, let's call it post-modern, re-decoration of the foam tiles that covered the the subterranean level of our home, I don't feel like she would have suggested it. I would like to point out that this makes her no less responsible for the ensuing drama and damage.
I'm not sure how it started, probably by accident I'm sure.
It was during that magical time between 3:30 pm when we got out of elementary school, and 5:30 pm when my mom got home from work. We were old enough to look after ourselves for a couple of hours, but not old enough to make any really significant decisions. Case and point: if somebody rang the doorbell that we did not know, we were told not to answer it. We would instead just peer creepily out the side window to see who it was, and watch them until they went away.
Our mom's shop was only about 3 miles from our house, and we were instructed to call her as soon as we got home from school so she knew we were OK. And in the ensuing hours we would eat cookies, watch cartoons, or maybe play in the backyard.
For some reason or another, we were in the basement painting with our water color paints on this particular day. In and of itself it seems a bit strange because we didn't do a lot of painting, but perhaps this episode was the reason.
We had smocks, which were just our dad's old shirts that we wore backwards. We had these easels with big white paper pads, and we would just paint... whatever. Neither of us were particularly talented with a paint brush.
Before this I remember having watched an episode of Bob Ross on PBS once, and after seeing him paint "a happy little stream" surrounded by "happy little trees" I decided I would go down to our basement to do the same.
Fifteen minutes later I had what appeared to be a giant blue rectangle running the length of the middle of my page, with no connotation of happiness whatsoever. Painting was harder than it looked.
On this particular day though I don't remember what my sister and I were painting but at some point one of us, again I will say it was probably me, flicked their paintbrush causing some paint to splatter on the ceiling.
To the both of us it was subsequently the funniest thing we'd ever seen and the new best idea we (probably me) had ever had.
We danced around the basement dipping our paintbrushes in new colors and flinging those colors up at the giant white rectangles above us. It was like we were a part of some after school at home montessori program or hippie arts camp. This was what we were doing and there wasn't any part of our brain that said it wasn't a good idea or that we might, possibly get in trouble.
Nope. None of that.
And then mom came home from work.
She came downstairs and saw us in our smocks giggling and laughing, have ready to giggle as well as we said:
Look what we did!
But her response was not one of giggles. In fact, it was quite confusing and subsequently terrifying to watch her face go from smiling, to confusion to shock and then a whole bunch of anger.
She moved throughout the basement looking up at the ceiling, hands clutching the top of her head as a lot of very angry questions came out of her mouth, questions we had no good answers to.
We had answers mind you, just not good answers.
When your mother is yelling at you asking you "did you think this was a good idea?" In your own mind you are thinking "yes, of course we did" but somehow you nkow that is not the right answer to give.
So we stayed silent, which was also not the right answer.
Suffice to say at this point in the whole affair, everything we thought was the right idea, had turned out to be not.
The next hour or so is very blurry in my memory. We were sent to our rooms, presumably to think about what we'd done. And I thought hard. We had a pretty clear set of rules for how to live our lives growing up. Don't break things in the house. Don't leave the house until parents got home from work. Take out the trash after dinner etc. But there just weren't any specific rules that I remembered about splatter painting the ceiling.
My tiny little nugget of a brain did not register that this was not something our mom would agree with. Thought somehow I think there is no way we would have thought it was a good idea to do it on the first floor.
It was winter when it happened because it was already dark out when my sister and I were sent to our rooms at 5:30. Eventually my mom came upstairs, I'm guessing after contemplating the damage, both to her ceiling and to her children's brains.
What followed was many minutes of the three of us sitting on the floor of my room, all of us crying, apologizing, seeing peaceful resolution through fits of sobs and choked out sorries.
And one particular phrase that my mom keeps saying over and over again:
Don't tell your father.
That much, we understood