How my brother lost his mouth
One day in fourth grade I walked home from school for lunch, as usual. I walked in our front door around 12:30, as usual. No one in sight, though I could hear my mom's sewing machine running in the back room.
So I walked through the living room and opened the door into the back room. And when I stepped into the back room...
I almost had a heart attack.
My mom was sitting at her sewing machine, with her back to me. And my brother Jeff, still in his pajamas during the noon hour, was crouching on the floor.
My brother was crouched on his knees on the floor, and he gestured at me and tossed his head back and forth, and he made muffled noises: "Mmmmmmm, mmmm mmmmm mmmm mmmmmmmm, mmm mmmmm MMMMMMH! MMMMMM, MMMMMMM!!!"
My brother Jeff was trying to say something, but he couldn't, because his mouth was taped shut. He had a big, heavy, roughly butterfly-shaped patchwork of adhesive tape all over his mouth and face from ear to ear. My brother's mouth was taped shut!
And he was still in his pajamas, in the noon hour. Clearly he had never gotten dressed that morning, never made it out the door to walk to school. He had never made it to his second grade class that morning.
Lying on the floor near him was an empty metal spool, Johnson & Johnson adhesive tape. Empty. It looked like the entire roll of tape was on his face.
Again my brother tossed his head and made muffled meaningless noises. "Mmmmmmmmm, mmm mmmm MMMMMMMM!!"
My heart was pounding. What a jolt! Finally my heart settled down enough that I was able to ask, "What happened to Jeff?"
"Oh," said my mom, in a voice that was just a bit too bright and breezy, "there was this episode of Lost in Space about these aliens who didn't have any mouth. So after breakfast this morning, your brother insisted that he wanted to be a mouthless alien, just like on Lost in Space, and so I had to go get a spool of adhesive tape out of the medicine cabinet, and he's spent the entire morning with his mouth taped shut as a mouthless alien... AND JEFF, HOW DO YOU LIKE HAVING NO MOUTH? DO YOU LIKE HOW IT FEELS, NOT BEING ABLE TO TALK BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO MOUTH?"
My brother was in no condition to confirm or contradict our mother's explanation, but he kept turning his head right and left, right and left, and he was going, "Mmmm-MMMM, mmmm-MMMMM, mmmm-MMMMM, mmmmm-MMMMMMM!!", as if he was trying to say no.
I stood there with my jaw hanging. This didn't make any sense. So my brother got to stay home from school, because he had some sudden last-minute brainstorm about spending the entire morning at home with his mouth taped shut?
I remembered how my brother had been dawdling around the house that morning before school, still in his pajamas when I left to walk to school without him, because I didn't want to be late. I left for school, as usual, several minutes before 8:00.
Was he really permitted at the last minute to stay home from school? Or more likely, did he say something a few minutes after I left, something that resulted in him being KEPT home from school all morning with his mouth taped shut?
Because by my mother's own account, my brother's mouth had been taped shut from around 8:00 until 12:30, a span of four and a half hours. Did he really REQUEST to stay home from school with his mouth taped shut for four and a half hours??!
I went into the kitchen and ate my lunch at the kitchen table. I was finishing my lunch around 12:45, and was about to start back to school, when my brother Jeff came wandering through the kitchen. He was still in his pajamas, and his mouth was still taped shut.
I went back to school for the afternoon. And I never did find out just what was going on with my brother, unexpectedly finding him at home on a school day with his mouth taped shut.