The house I grew up in has two staircases that lead from the first to the second floor. One of them is a steep servant’s stair, and the other is the grand staircase in the hallway. The hall stairs have two small landings on the way up, and when I was little and pouting I would sit on the lower landing for hours. If you sat just right you could hit the echo point in the hall, and my rendition of “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eat worms” would resonate quite nicely around the house.
On one fateful day I was pouting spectacularly when I decided that my defiance to whatever parental rule had made me angry would go much better if I could hang my head out over the stairs. That way more of my voice would reach my parents as they sat in the living room clearly torn to pieces by the sheer force of my poutitude. Without thought, I shoved my head through the rails and continued to sing relishing the worm eatingness of my revenge. This went very well until my neck started to get tired and I tried to pull my head back out of the railing. I was stuck.
I screamed and hollered. My parents came running. My father laughed, my mother panicked, I cried. My father’s solution was to take the baluster (that spokey, vertical-type thing) that was trapping my little head off the rest of the banister. But my mother wouldn’t allow it. There was not a chance in hell she was going to let my father destroy a hundred-and-fifty-some-year-old banister. He suggested butter, she saw wood damage. They argued back and forth. There had to be something that would grant me my freedom without hurting the banister.
Finally, the decision was made. My father went and grabbed a bottle of Old English wood oil. He told me to close my eyes and started squirting the lemony oil on the back of my head. It took most of the bottle, but eventually he managed to work my oily mass of a head out of its wooden cage. My mother spent an hour washing my hair in the tub trying to clean the oil from my hair. But it was no use. For a week I walked around smelling like Old English oil. Strangely, to this day my favorite chore is oiling the banister. For some odd reason I love the smell of the oil, though I have never tried to stick my head through the rails again.
The staircase and I have moved past its attempt to behead me. It was even the back drop for some of my wedding photos:
Did your parents ever use any strange home remedies to get you out of a jam?