In a few more weeks, I'd officially be a big brother. For now, I just wanted to help where possible. I was practically a man at that point -- 4 1/2 -- and I knew that I needed to help around around the house.
Aside from cleaning my room. That just was not going to happen. Once, lured with the promise of cinnamon rolls, I managed a blitzkrieg on the clutter in my room. But as I neared my deadline, I ended up shoving half the stuff under my bed, feigning surprise when my mom pointed it out during the pre-cinnamon roll inspection.
But this day was one of those blue sky California days; not too hot, not too cold. And being 4 1/2, I wanted to get out of the house. It was after noon, so The Monkees was already over. It was a bunch of boring junk until the afternoon, and I had time to kill.
So I asked my mom if I could water the garden in the back yard. I had a feeling what the answer would be; after what happened the first time I watered the lawn, I was not asked to return to that job.
In my defense, I was a little fuzzy on homonyms as a 3-year-old, so when my mom asked if I could be a dear and water the lawn while she pulled some weeds, I thought she meant "deer" and peed on the grass.
Perfectly honest mistake.
But if I couched this latest request in the guise of being helpful, I thought it would improve my chances.
"Mommy," I said, putting on my best doe-eyed face, "Can I go water the garden?" She was about to say something when her face changed suddenly, like someone had just kicked her or something.
"All right," she said.
I jumped up and down in excitement and ran to the back door.
"This time, if you have to go pee-pee, come in the house, okay?"
"I know, Mom," I said, rolling my eyes before heading out the door.
Suddenly, I was a cowboy in the Old West, heading to a showdown. I imagined my spurs clanging as I hiked up my Toughskins (a size too big so I'd grow into them) and prepared to face off with some no-account villain.
I'd seen lots of John Wayne movies by that time, so I had the walk down pat. It was sort of the same walk I did when I got a wedgie. Just more dignified.
I saw my "gun" lying near the shed. Our garden hose had a pistol grip on it that made it easy to target certain plants (or any stray cats on fences). If you wanted the continuous stream, a little ring flipped down to hold the trigger in place, sort of like on gas nozzles.
I turned the faucet, and watched the hose seem to spring to life like an angry snake. Tiny jets of water streamed out where the hose connected to the faucet. Everything was ready.
I grabbed the hose in my right hand and clasped my left over it to steady it as I unleashed the fury of botanical badassery.
I was now in control of nature and my own destiny. I was watering the garden -- all by myself! John Wayne would be proud.
And after I'd made my first sweep of the garden, I got a little cocky. Surely I didn't need both hands to steady the hose. In fact, I could do a quick draw, just like The Duke himself.
I slung my shooting iron in my imaginary holster and got ready to draw, legs akimbo like any good gunfighter. My pants hung low; better to imitate chaps.
All the plants in the garden were victims of my shooting spree. It took all the strength I had in my right hand to keep the hose from getting away from me, but I was doing it.
Just when I felt uberconfident, my pants slipped even lower. Beyond chaps territory. If I didn't grab them, anyone walking into our back yard would have a good chance at seeing me in my skivvies. What if it was a -- gulp -- girl?
Well, that just wouldn't do.
I let go of the trigger so I could set the hose down and fix my pants, but that's when I found that during my superfast quick draw, I knocked the ring over, keeping the stream going whether I held the trigger or not.
I tried to hitch up my pants in one hand while holding onto the hose with the other, but by that point, the trigger was wet and slippery, and I lost grip of the handle.
As the first jet of extremely cold water hit me in the face, I must have screamed. Something got my mom's attention. Luckily she had the camera nearby so she could capture for posterity what she saw when she went to see what I was screaming about.
Thus ended my desire to do any gardening-related chores.