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The Manchurian Look-Alike



My prospects for a glorious Fourth of July were high. Sparrow, our ten-year-old, was out searching for strawberries in our garden. I stepped off our back stoop just in time to see Rue, our four-year-old adopted Chinese beauty, screaming and running away from Sparrow’s pile of dirt. To Sparrow’s delight, an earthworm had popped up its little brown head or its little brown tail or whatever earthworms poke up. I wasn’t much of an expert on ends. I calmed Rue and told her how to play with worms. Sparrow pulled the little pokey part out of the ground and dubbed him William. She scratched in the earth long enough to find William a wife, Willamena.

A few minutes later, she located baby Willie. It wasn’t long until Rue as well as Sparrow were playing dolls with wriggly worms. As the sun gathered steam overhead, I told the girls to place their Worm family back on the dirt. A dehydrated worm is just not a pretty sight. The girls placed the squirming trio back on the loose earth where they disappeared rapidly. Rue surmised that the worms would hide in the earth never to be found again.

Our family went to a barbeque at a friend’s home where the huge back porch overlooked a child friendly playground. Rue ran off to the swings. I was just filling my plate when I heard phrases like, “Make her stop! Rue is gross – just gross!”

Rue? I knew it must be my little cherub. First of all, she was the only Rue there. Secondly, she would be the only Rue used in the phrases as “gross” and “make her stop." I stepped out on the porch. Rue’s aunt had barbeque sauce dripping from her lip. Her uncle’s teeth were embedded deeply into an ear of corn while another aunt wrenched her face into an unrecognizable kind of contortion. My eyes panned to Rue.

Now, Rue had a sock fetish. Every other step, she would bend over and tug at her little socks to pull them up. Evidently Rue had located a lost family member of the Worm family. She had located a night crawler of notable length. Her prink short outfit had no pockets. When she had decided that it was time to come up to eat, she took a step and needed to tug at her socks but, with no pockets, and the knowledge that a worm on the soil disappears, Rue placed that night crawler in her mouth.

It was hanging out on both sides. In fact, she looked rather like a Manchurian warrior. I was the only one amused. Later, at home, I asked Rue if she had learned anything about worms. She studied the floor and confessed that no one wanted to kiss her all day long. I kind of hope that she’s addicted to worms until she’s about sixteen. That’s really old enough for any daughter of mine to date.

Sharon Witt is a nationally licensed embalmer and preacher’s wife. That’s an unusual background for a writer! She is also a college professor. She and her husband, DeWayne, have one biological daughter and two adopted children.
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