When I was a child, my parents frequently traveled to Spain or England or on sailing trips along the Caribbean islands, long trips, two or three weeks a stretch. For those of us left behind, meaning my brother, my sister and me, Mom and Dad would hire a woman to stay at the house and care for us during their absence. Mrs. Matsky was one of those women. She was short and fat and smelled odd, and she had two small poodles. Now, my family has always been of the mindset that unless a dog weighs in at over 50 pounds, it’s not a real dog. Our dog George, a solid German Shorthair Pointer, qualified as a real dog. And we loved him, my sister and me in particular. So, naturally, we found Mrs. Matsky’s little poodles to be a tolerable nuisance. That is until feeding time on her first night with us, where she locked George in the laundry room with his food and fed her two rats right there in our kitchen. My sister and I were outraged. We had to do something to speak out for George’s rights in his own house. So that night while Mrs. Matsky was sleeping we took the Guinea pig and her seven babies from their cage in my sister’s room and went downstairs and oh so quietly snuck into Mrs. Matsky’s room. Carefully, we untucked the sheets at the foot of the bed and while I held the sheets open, my sister put all the critters in the bed and then we ran back up to our rooms. Of course when we heard her screaming about one minute later, we ran back to collect them. And while she was gasping for air and holding one hand to her heart, we got a serious lecture with all kinds of threats along the lines of us not being able to go outside tomorrow, and wait until your parents get home, etc. It didn’t stop her from feeding George in the laundry room but Mrs. Matsky did start sleeping with the bedroom door locked, and nervously eyeing us the entire time, wondering what we had up our sleeves next because during her stay we hid her purse, hid her dog food, hid her sewing, turned off the stove when she was cooking, turned off the oven when she was baking, locked her out of the house when she went to get the morning paper, and anything else we could come up with to make her stay with us a miserable one.
All of this is relative because this morning when I was feeding the four dogs, in effort not to repeat last night’s fiasco, I was standing in the kitchen watching my dog eat while Finicky was outside and the other two dogs, the dogs that live in this house, well, they were eating in the garage. After all this time, I understand Mrs. Matsky. But I don’t regret the guinea pig incident. Oh, and when my parents did get home from that trip, they were beside themselves with laughter, my father in particular when Mrs. Matsky told them that their children were – and I quote – heathens. We never saw her again.