Black and blue Friday


A time long ago, on a street not so far away, lived four boys, a girl, and a pet green parakeet that ate hushpuppies off their father’s head.

One Friday after Thanksgiving, the children found themselves extremely bored and became very inventive. Totally unaware of the havoc their new game of in-house tag was about to cause and the lifelong scars it would inflict on one of them, they started to play.

The father too was oblivious to what was about to happen. If he had known, he would’ve certainly put a swift stop to the game.

And if he had done that, the holiday would’ve been a lot less expensive for him and a whole lot less painful for one of his children. The parakeet was also oblivious. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If asked, each would say the very first Black and Blue Friday was indeed gray and dismal. (Not the father or the hushpuppy-eating green parakeet, though. One was asleep in his well-worn recliner and the other asleep on his perch, the cage door left open as always).

That day the trees outside their home swayed and bent with the constant 40 mph winter wind of a real Nor’easter.

Occasionally leafless branches would reach out and make contact with windowpanes of their small red brick home. The resulting sound reminded each child of long fingernails raking across a schoolroom blackboard, and it issued a stern warning: The weather outside was not conducive for children playing. They were to stay inside. The relentless pounding rain reinforced the warning.

So the Black and Blue holiday scene was set. With Mom out Christmas shopping and Dad asleep in his recliner, the bored children were left unsupervised.

Not to wake the sleeping giant, the children kicked their shoes off before starting the in-house tag game. After all, each knew running inside was against the rules. But if Dad doesn’t hear you running, are you really breaking any rules?

The answer that day was a painful yes. For, you see, a rule wasn’t the only thing broken.

At the start of the game three seemingly unrelated things happened.

First: the youngest child was designated as “it” for the first time.

Second: the sleeping hushpuppy-eating green parakeet awoke, hopped off its perch, and took flight out the open cage door.

Third and perhaps the most importantly: someone sneezed.

All the events were soon to collide, sending one of the children to the hospital.

As the youngest counted to ten, the other children quickly ran and hid. One of the brothers hid against the wall in the dining room, behind the other side of the full-length swinging kitchen door. There he watched in amusement and complete silence as the youngest slowly opened the door and crept past many times in search of the others.

He continued to watch until the parakeet flew up and landed on his head in search of a hushpuppy. Then his silence was broken with a sneeze.

The sneeze alerted the youngest, who ran through the swinging door causing it to slam up against what he thought was the dining room wall.

In reality it was the big toe and nose of his twin brother. The ensuing screams woke the sleeping dad who leaped from his recliner in a single bound.

At the hospital, the doctor determined that the twin’s big toe and big nose (that was getting bigger by the moment) were both indeed broken.

The other children made fun of the twin’s black and blue raccoon eyes for weeks after the event.

Looking back some 45 years now, that Black and Blue Friday could be the reason why Twin Brother Mark has Thanksgiving with his family and not ours.

Or it could be what happened at Christmas that year, but that’s a story for another time.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]