The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed Michael at his house on Long Island the day after Thanksgiving. We were talking about his memories growing up in each house; he moved around a lot as a kid. His first vivid memory is this one, based in his house in Erie, Pennsylvania. As a five-year-old, he would ask his parents hundreds of questions and his parents were always willing to answer them. This time, however, he believes his mother regretted answering it.

It was early in the morning, Michael was brushing his teeth and getting ready to go on with his day when he noticed the little hole in the back of the bathroom sink. He inspected the hole, stuck his finger in it (it didn’t bite), and shined a flashlight down it. Still, he did not understand what it was for, so he went to ask his mother.

“Mommmmmm!” he yelled as he rushed down the wooden staircase.

There his mother stood feeding his new baby brother, with the help of his sister. “Yes, Michael? What is the matter?” she asked, as she continued to feed the newborn.

“You know that little hole on the back of the bathroom sink, upstairs?” he asked curiously.

“Yes, what about it?” she responded, unamused.

“What is it for?”

“It drains the water out so the sink does not overflow…,” she answered with a questionable look on her face.

As he began to run back up the stairs his mother yelled out after him, “don’t forget we’re going shopping with grandma in an hour! You better be ready!”

He yelled back a simple “I’ll be ready!” Once he got upstairs he was determined to test his mother’s answer. He walked into the bathroom carrying a washcloth and began his experiment. He clogged the sink with the cloth and turned on both faucets at full blast. He stood there, carefully watching the sink fill up, excited to see how the water would drain from the hole.

Before he knew it, it was time to go. His mother yelled up the stairs “Michael it’s time to go!”

He yelled back down, “coming!” He ran out the bathroom door, leaving the sink running, rushed down the stairs, out the front door, and into his mother’s car.

When the family got back from shopping, the kids all rushed inside. They did not notice that the ceiling was soaked and that the sheetrock was sagging. As his mother walked into the house and was hit by a drop of water. Confused, she looked up at the ceiling and screamed with disbelief. Michael, realizing what she was screaming about, rushed upstairs to find the whole second story carpet soaking wet. In the bathroom, the sink was overflowing and the floor was flooded. Michael concluded that the little hole could not keep up with the rushing water. He quickly turned off the faucets and unclogged the sink. But it was too late, his mother was already standing behind him with a look of anger on her face. He slowly walked downstairs as all of his siblings looked at the collapsing ceiling.

He does not remember much after that; his mother was furious, but thankfully he never got screamed at by his father. The ceiling got fixed and the carpets upstairs were replaced. Although he learned his lesson that the little hole cannot handle excess water, it would not be the last time he would almost destroy his house by asking a question.

The Incident of the Hole in the Sink

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1964
Erie, Pennsylvania

I interviewed Michael at his house on Long Island the day after Thanksgiving. We were talking about his memories growing up in each house; he moved around a lot as a kid. His first vivid memory is this one, based in his house in Erie, Pennsylvania. As a five-year-old, he would ask his parents hundreds of questions and his parents were always willing to answer them. This time, however, he believes his mother regretted answering it.

Tags: water, Erie
Decade: 1960s
Rating:
Recorded by Shannon Murphy on November 30, 2017
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