I would have been two years old or almost that, so the story I’m about to tell is one that I’ve heard and one for which my imagination has created the sequence of events. I do know that we were living in Lafayette, Indiana, and Dad was busy attending grad school at Purdue. Somehow my parents also somehow found time to have their second child, my sister. They were busy and it’s easy to believe that a two year old could get into all sorts of trouble.
I don’t know if all little kids do this, but my four kids certainly enjoyed opening drawers and finding things and then storing those items elsewhere. I’ve found drawers whose contents have been swapped; I’ve found drawers that have been emptied into the garbage; I’ve found the most unlikely things appearing in the most unlikely places at the most unlikely times. And apparently, according to my parents, I liked doing the same rearranging game in my early years as well.
One winter evening in Lafayette, sometime between when my father arrived home from school and the time at which I went to bed, I played the rearranging game with no one else realizing what I was doing. I was not a scheming kid and I rarely did anything intentionally that I knew would get me into trouble. As far as I knew, I was just playing a game. That night I undoubtedly went to bed content with life and thinking about the things that a two year old ponders.
My parents, too, evidently went to sleep without the slightest hint of what awaited them come morning.
And thus, that next morning when Dad put on his overcoat, picked up his briefcase, and headed out the front door of that little house in Lafayette, he was probably whistling something uplifting; there would have been a spring in his step; and of course he would be exuding confidence and perhaps smiling to himself like the guy in the old Brylcreem commercials. Here was a man on top of the world. He was organized, studious, and diligent. He had even done his homework on campus before coming home the previous afternoon, so he didn’t have to open up his briefcase at all that evening.
And so it happened that the bell rang, the instructor walked into class, and the order was issued, “Please turn in your homework assignments.”
Click. Click. The briefcase belonging to the man to my father’s left was unlatched and opened. The man pulled out his assignment and handed it in to the instructor.
Click. Click. The briefcase belonging to the man to my father’s right was unlatched and opened. The man pulled out his assignment and handed it in to the instructor.
Click. Click. My father unlatched his briefcase and opened it up. There, before the instructor and the other students and God and everybody, was an article of women’s black lingerie.
Dad, turning beet red, quickly rummaged through the article of clothing, but his homework was not there. The lingerie was the only thing in his briefcase.
In spite of my antics, Dad managed to finish grad school. And you can bet your bottom dollar that from that point on he always checked his briefcase contents before going anywhere.