My husband, Doc, was a military man and we often lived in base housing at our different duty stations. Some of his coworkers and their families were wonderful people. Others were – how do I say this nicely? They were trailer trash without a trailer and a few beer cans short of a six-pack (probably because they drank it). If there was a contest in this category, I think the Bundys would have won first prize.
The Bundys were a family of five – dad, mom, and three beautiful little blonde-headed girls. My first encounter with the Bundys was at a unit baseball game. “Al” was running late and headed right to the field and “Peggy,” with the three children in tow, came to sit with the rest of the families in the bleachers. I have a soft spot for little kids (when they aren’t bugging the crap out of me), so I was talking to the oldest daughter – when I noticed something strange. Her fine and silky blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, which was fastened with…..masking tape. I quickly checked out the other children and, sure enough, every one of them had a messy little ponytail, wrapped securely with tape. Peggy must have seen my incredulous look, as she laughed and admitted that she had “the hardest time finding ponytail holders!”
The next time I saw the family, I was relieved to see that the little girls still had their hair. Peggy had invited some of the wives to her house to socialize, and knowing how hard it was to move often and make new friends, I accepted. I was invited to have a seat in the living room, which confused me, as there were no “seats” available. The other wives were perched uncomfortably on the couch, between towering piles of laundry that threatened to fall and smother them at any moment. A few brave souls had moved the toys on the floor in order to make a clear path in case a hasty retreat was needed. Peggy pushed a pile of laundry a bit more to the side and encouraged me to “make myself at home.” I sat down and we all began to talk – and then I noticed a foul smell. I tried to ignore it, thinking I was just being oversensitive, but it soon was overwhelming. I started to wonder – did one of the wives have a horrible digestive problem? I sniffed surreptitiously and finally zeroed in on the cause. The “clean” laundry on the couch had apparently been on the floor at some point, because several pieces of clothing had been smeared with dog poop. This was confirmed when I looked at the floor near the sliding glass door and saw several other smears and paw prints – and the offending party looking through the glass with a wistful expression on his face. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who caught wind of problem and, one after another, we all made our excuses and left as soon as we could politely do so.
When the Bundys received their orders to another base, Al’s coworkers offered to help him load up the U-Haul. Doc looked shell-shocked when he got home, so I asked him how things had gone. He told me that things had gone well…until they picked up the couch to load it on the truck. When they got to the door, they realized they would need to turn the couch sideways so that it would fit through. As they flipped it to its back, a black object fell from the interior of the couch through a hole in the bottom – and they soon realized it was the desiccated body of small, very dead, cat. You can imagine the commotion as people sidestepped and juggled the couch in their effort not to step on the crispy kitten. Al noticed the unusual activity, came to investigate and exclaimed, “THAT’S where that cat went!! We’ve been looking for him for a couple of months!” There was a moment of silence and then someone tentatively asked how he could have missed the smell. Al admitted that they had noticed a smell “for a couple of weeks” – but figured someone had left a sandwich somewhere, as “that happens all the time.”
No one really missed the Bundys when they left – and soon the Weavers came to take their place – and they had their own unique brand of craziness – but that is a story for another day.