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It's not my fault

Rick Ryckeley's picture

It wasn’t something one would expect to see in a typical garden, except maybe a garden located behind 110 Flamingo Street. Of course we had squash, okra, tomatoes and the like.

And if I were being honest, what Dad saw when he came around the backside of the house surprised even me. It’s true, I was there when it happened, but this time it wasn’t my fault.

I’d seen a lot in my short 10 years of life, but the expression on Dad’s face indicated that there was a good possibility my 11th birthday was something I would not see. After all, it wasn’t every day Twin Brother Mark danced around with a pitchfork stuck through the middle of his foot.

Now, growing up, I’d been responsible for a bunch of mishaps when it came to Mark – that’s true. The time he was rushed to Doc Jim’s for a split chin and received 12stitches – it was all my fault.

Being a twin, we stayed in the same bedroom and slept in twin beds. Sometimes at night, when we were supposed to be sleeping, we’d play games – like jumping from bed to bed.

Doing so with the lights on would be too easy and alert Mom or Dad. After all, we were supposed to be in bed sleeping. Besides, with the lights off made it more challenging. And it was even more so if someone quietly moved his bed up against the wall without the other twin knowing. That, of course, was little old me.

Mark crashed to the floor chin first. All the screaming brought our parents running into the room. Quickly I admitted it was my fault. Besides, I couldn’t slide the bed back in time.

Mark is the only kid I know who went to the hospital after a game of tag. Playing tag down at the cul-de-sac in front of Old Mrs. Crabtree’s house was Older Brother Richard’s idea. Playing tag while riding bikes? Now that was my idea.

After all, tag with your brothers got boring really quickly. Not so while riding bikes. Sure there were crashes; it was the easiest way to make a tag.

Dad never would have banned Bike Tag if Mark had been wearing shoes that day. Spokes sure are unforgiving when it comes to little toes. When we were asked who ran into Mark’s foot, it was my hand that went up.

Colonel Masters was our 10th-grade science teacher at Briarwood High, home of the Mighty Buccaneers. Early one morning in the middle of the school year, his entire classroom was quickly evacuated.

It seems someone had mixed all of the chemicals together and heated the mixture over a flame. The result was a black, stinking, blob – a blob that expanded in both size and stink at an alarming rate.

I quickly admitted what had been done and didn’t try to blame Mark even though he was standing right next to me. Besides, I kinda felt sorry for him. Who knew black, stinking blobs would blow up like that and stick so well to skin?

Black stinking blobs are what tomatoes and squash turn into if there’s not enough lime in the soil. That’s why Dad had us digging up the garden. The lime had to be mixed in to sweeten the soil and prevent blossom-end rot. Mark got to the pitchfork first, so I was left with a shovel. My job was to dig; his job was to break up the large chunks of dirt that I dug.

Thirty minutes later, he was dancing around with the pitchfork stuck through his tennis shoe and foot. He never really told me how it happened. I just know it wasn’t my fault that it did.
Admitting it’s your fault when something goes wrong and not blaming someone else speaks volumes about who you are as a person. Heck, we learned that life lesson as kids growing up at 110 Flamingo Street.

I just wish the two people seeking the highest office in the land could also learn this lesson.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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