Scales of justice balance out when ‘Usual Suspect’ gets one, too

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

It was a mutual thing. There he was, looking stunned, and there I was, feeling stunned.

It happened at the local Dairy Queen. Inspector Gadget, number three in the queue, had performed on the high school stage. He’d arrived, he’d sung and he’d helped out the choir, looking all handsome in his tux. Then, per Schrock tradition, we went to the DQ for ice cream.

Wanting to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ before a visit with friends, I adjourned to the facilities. Remembering (ahem) that the women’s restroom was on the right, I trotted in, in time with the sunshine, completely lost in my thoughts.

I was drying my hands when the door burst open and a small boy catapulted into the room. It was Little Schrock. Seeing me, his eyes widened to the size of frisbees, and his chin hit the tops of his shoes.

“Why are you in the men’s bathroom?” he said. “Didn’t you read the sign?” Here, incredulity colored his voice, and a grin the size of the sixth ring of Saturn began to wrap around his head.

“You, my intelligent and highly-literate mother, didn’t read the sign? And I, a 7-year-old beginning reader, read the sign!” All of that and more was transmitted in those twinkly blue eyes and that planetary grin.

The next day, he appeared at the top of the stairs. “Remember how you went into the men’s bathroom yesterday ‘cause you didn’t read the signs?” His eyes were a-shining, and a half-and-half smile containing wonder and impishness flashed in time with his dimple.

I sighed. “I sure do. Now, how ‘bout this stays our little secret?”

“Okay.” He grinned again, loving secrets. “It’s our secret.”

Thinking the matter was history, I started in surprise when a sign appeared on our own bathroom door. “Girls and boys can go to the bathroom,” it proclaimed. From the uneven lettering that wandered catty-wampus across the page, I know exactly who the creator was. And I knew what he meant.

“This bathroom is for everybody, so my mom, who doesn’t pay attention, won’t have to worry about embarrassing my family.”

I laughed out loud. That guy. When he’d arrived, all unexpected like, he’d brought a new round of blue jeans and T-shirts for Mama to wash. But he’d brought plenty of joy and happiness. Oh, yes. He’d brought that, too.

Historically speaking, it was Kid Kaboom, a tornado in denim, who authored pranks, threw boomers out windows and generally conducted a reign of terror. In this, he was very much like my brother, his uncle, Terry.

“Why do I have a ‘Terry?’” I’d wail in between explosions. “Why doesn’t Terry have a ‘Terry?’”

My mother-in-law, She of the Calm Persona, would say, very calmly, “Maybe he will have a ‘Terry’ one day.”

Every once in awhile, the scales of justice balance out. For Terry did, indeed, get a “Terry.” In the shape of a feisty, blonde, curly-headed bottle rocket who goes by Halli.

Being the littlest in the pack by no means makes one the least, and in the time it takes to snitch Sister’s doll or pinch her big brother, she can do it. That quick, she has her two bigger siblings riled up, and Mama’s got a fire to put out.

When there’s peace on earth, it’s a beautiful thing. Those two girlies can play like a pair of angels, washing their dollies’ dirty clothes and playing house. The picture Mama sent Auntie one day showed two sturdy pairs of legs planted in a little red wagon, parked beneath the clothesline, and two busy pairs of hands, pinning the wash to the line.


When it goes south, however, it goes there fast. Like the other week when Daddy was gone, away at Minister’s Meeting, and Mama had bedtime duty. Just when she thought they’d fallen asleep, a clamor arose from their room. Big Sister was crying. And here she came, the blonde rocket, running from their room, saying, “Mommy, Sister needs you. I think someone hit her.”

As her father said when recounting the incident later, “Two minus one equals The Usual Suspect. The Usual Suspect apparently underestimates the deductive reasoning of her mother.”

Well, now. Maybe Terry did get a “Terry” after all. I think he did. But he got a sweet pray-er, too. For it was her big sis who raised a hand in her Wednesday night class, requesting prayer for Grandma and Grandpa Yoder. Who were, at the time, cruising the Caribbean. “Please pray,” she told her friends. “They’re on a boat with Peter, James and John.”

Grandpa, hearing of it later, said, “I guess we were pretty safe if we were on the boat with Peter, James and John.”

Life, I’ve learned, isn’t always fair. But now and then when the stars all align, what goes around comes around at last to the well-deserving person. Who is known in these parts as “The Usual Suspect.”


Little Schrock and his (occasionally) kissin’ cousins. The “pray-er” is in the middle, and Blonde Bottle Rocket’s on the right.

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