Posts Tagged ‘(retro)spect’

Fondly: This is Exposition

October 16, 2014

fndlygrphc

How did I get here?

How did I end up in a van full of sideshow freaks and burlesque girls? I wasn’t a part of this world—I wore suits and manipulated the public’s idea of needing.

Of wanting.

I was neither artist nor musician, my wife made sure of that.

But there was something about her. I was attracted to her; less like a bee to a flower, more akin to a moth to the flame.

So I got in.

Work would understand, my wife would not.

I didn’t really understand it either.

Truth be told, I was just happy to feel something again. Something other than remorse and loneliness. Something other than resignation and defeat. Even fear felt better, at least when coupled with big blue eyes and a smile that worked more effectively than a cattle prod turned up to eleven.

How quickly and easily the unassuming romantic can be swept away by a soft pair of lips—wrapped up between the legs of an idea far more pure than any one person.

The moment I got in that van I knew; I had a lot of decisions to make—a lot of changes to contend with, save for one.

One choice was made obvious and clear, for once you jump down that dark deep hole you simply must chase the rabbit all the way to the bottom.

Jumping head first ensured I would fall, never once thinking about the abrupt landing waiting just below.

I was too busy feeling weightless to notice my stomach drop.

Just where were we going, anyway?

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Fondly: It’s Never Okay.

September 21, 2011

fndlygrphc

“It’s never okay,” she said, giving her very best attempt at a stern look.

I found it quite charming. With that one statement grounded in resolution and finality, I found myself consumed. I had to do it. It felt like a compulsion. It took every ounce of my willpower to comply to her wish.

I became obsessed.

Sitting on the couch, her foot dangling precariously over the edge, taking me along with it—it sat, bare and teasing; taunting me. Inviting me like a serpent holding an apple.

When I was a child, my dad’s friend came over one summer evening, just before the sun relented to the lightning bugs. He had just bought a motorcycle.

The moment I heard the rumble and roar outside the front room window, I was captivated. I ran outside as my father’s friend kicked open the stand and shut off the engine.

“Be careful not to touch it,” he said, removing his large, heavy, sweat-drenched helmet, and placing it on my head, tapping it with a large, rough knuckle. “You’ll get burned.”

With that, I was left outside, staring at my first taste of forbidden fruit. my first moment of temptation. I sat down, Indian style, helmet still on, transfixed on the engine.

I had to touch it.

It burned the living hell out my hand but the relief I felt, having succumbed to the pressure, outweighed the pain tenfold.

I looked up at her, then back down at her foot. Her beautiful, calloused, dancer’s foot and leaned in, ready to get burned. She was staring at me, her eyebrows scrunched, her glare as stern as she could make it.

“It’s never okay.”

Fondly.

September 15, 2010

fndlygrphc

I remember every kiss I’ve ever had—clearly.

The first kiss, the last kiss…the goodbye kiss, the “it’s been far too long kiss”…I had experienced nearly all of them. Right down to the accidental kiss.

I remember specific moments as if they were yesterday, some forbidden, some unexpected, others reduced to a science. I remembers them all.

I remember drawing hearts in the steamed glass of an early eighties hatchback with sweaty toes. Moments of youth, where the words themselves were too difficult and confusing to say out loud.

Falling into the shadows of a freight elevator, giving in and letting go, perhaps for the first time in my life—bodies pulled close, my loneliness obvious but moot.

Leaning across a parking brake, though the exact intersection is fuzzy—a friendly argument that would never find resolution.

I remember the obligatory three-kiss goodnight, often through pursed lips.

That first kiss after a long, long time apart, unbridled yet somehow deliberate. A longing that pulsed through every muffled moan and pull of hair.

I even remember the smaller moments. A rare burst of confidence while waiting for an elevator in another state; lips I would kiss for just a week, yet somehow hold onto for a lifetime.

Kisses that began at the lips and stopped on the belly, self control dictated by the rising sun and impending work.

Forbidden lips in the back of an old Chevy Suburban, the smell of sex mixing with gasoline and flat beer.

Falling into an accidental kiss amidst the fog of a hot summer night with no air conditioning. Sweat sticking to an uncomfortable red couch, lost in a woman destined for obscure, fuzzy memory, though remembered nonetheless.

I remember how desperate, passionate and deliberate each and every kiss became, once subjected to fond recollection.

I remember holding tight and letting go simultaneously.

I remember them all.

Fondly.

Fondly: His.

September 14, 2010

fndlygrphc

 

I sat on the couch in my small, yet somehow charming bungalow and took a drink. It was the first of many I’d be taking that night, but I was okay with it. I had nowhere to be, nobody to see.

Or perhaps it was quite the opposite.

I took another drink and leaned forward in search of an open pack of cigarettes. As I grabbed the last smoke and crumpled up the box, I looked around the room at the framed artwork and modest furniture that surrounded me.

The walls were mine; there was no doubt about that.

I exhaled slowly and thought about the day. The day. I thought about how different my life was exactly one year ago today. How quickly it changed, and how it somehow didn’t stop.

Was this momentum or something more sinister?

This time last year, I was being crushed by the weight of a mountain. This time last year, I was just digging himself out.

And now I sat with a different weight firmly resting on my shoulders.

But like the walls, the weight was mine.

I swirled the ice around in my glass and watched it melt.

Where would I be next year?


Alright Christmas: SPECIAL PRESENTATION

December 16, 2009

Sure, we had TV…Hell, once the 80’s hit we had cable and VCR’s. But as a child, I listened to a lot of records.

I don’t know if they have any modern variations, but in the 70’s and 80’s, every cartoon special, be it Easter, Christmas or Ground Hog Day, was turned into an audio record.

Usually, that meant they simply took the audio track of the cartoon and pressed it on vinyl.

Back before cable and VCR’s we had one very small window to see our favorite specials—they weren’t played constantly, day in and day out. Charlie Brown was on once and if you missed it, well, tough shit. Listen to the record.

Now, I never missed a Christmas special growing up. I had a rainman-like memory when it came to the TV schedule that time of year. I couldn’t read a TV Guide, but I knew when Rudolph would be on…

…But I still listened to the records. It was like listening to a radio show, the television of the 40’s.

I drew the cartoon in my head as I listened to the record.

Perhaps that’s why I have such an (over)active imagination.

One of my favorite records/Christmas specials was Santa and the Three Bears. Every holiday season, my sister and I would nestle onto the couch next to the tree and listen intently as two bear cubs learned about the wonders and spirit of Christmas.

I heard the record years before I ever saw the actual cartoon.

Santa and the Three Bears was a cartoon released in 1970, written by Tony Benedict, famous for penning episodes for cartoons like the Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and the Pink Panther, among others.

It featured the Voice talents of  Hal Smith as the (only) Ranger in Yellowstone Park, and Jean Vander Pyl as Nana, the mother bear.

Jean Vander Pyl is best known as the voice of Wilma Flintstone on the Flintstones and Rosie the Robot on the Jetsons.

The plot centers around two bear cubs that aren’t ready to hibernate, and happen upon Ranger Smith chopping down a Christmas tree from the National Park, which I’m fairly certain is illegal.

The cubs, Nikomi and Chinook, ask the Ranger what he’s doing, and he tells them all about Christmas—and the fat man in red.

As any kid should be, bear or human, the cubs were excited and wanted a Christmas of their own, complete with a visit from Jolly Old St. Nick.

From there a series of hijinks and comical interludes, mixed in with a little bit of drama and a lot of really bad songs ensue as the cubs try to stay awake for a visit from Santa.

I would always pretend my sister and I were the bear cubs—every year we fell head first into the story, becoming a living part of it.

Now, my sister wasn’t always the kindest, most gentle variety of sibling. She was fairly cunning all her life. She once traded me a rock for all my toys, and she did it so well, I walked away from the deal thinking I made out like a bandit.

Don’t get me started about the Clown Make-Up Business she tried to start when I was eight. That one left some (mental) scars.

In a nutshell, mine was your average older sister, capable of the most devious of plots at any given moment in time.

Except when we listened to Santa and the Three Bears.

For that brief 45 minutes, she was Nikomi and I was Chinook. It was a strange bond that always formed at Christmas, not unlike when the Brits and Germans took a break from World War I to play soccer (football) one cold Christmas morn.

For that brief moment in time, I could let my guard down, put my head on her shoulder and enjoy being her brother.

The torment my sister unleashed as a child was nothing severe or out of the norm for an older sister. In almost every case, these moments have become some of my fondest childhood memories.

We’re both old now—she has kids of her own, already past the age of Christmas Specials and Santa Claus. Our relationship matured over the years, and she became that sister who gave me dating advice, tried to teach me how to dance and always seemed to have my back when it mattered most.

I’m no longer the innocent victim of an evil mastermind, but sometimes I still like to put on Santa and the Three Bears, close my eyes, and just listen—pretending my sister and I are two innocent bear cubs discovering Christmas for the first time.

I think about the rock that cost me my toys, the clown make-up fiasco which will require some therapy down the road and most fondly, those Christmases of my youth sitting on the couch, snuggling with my big sister listening to that record.

 

Alright, Christmas: Dispatches from the Naughty List…

December 10, 2009

I was about six or seven.

Our halls were decked.

That unquellable anxiety resonating from the pit of my stomach made me feel like I was at the top of a roller-coaster, about to roll over the edge.

By that age, Christmas had completely taken over my waking hours.

Everything else was irrelevant.

The fresh cut pine tree permeated the house, slipping into every nook and cranny of our three bedroom ranch style chunk of suburbia. The cold, crisp winter landscape stood outside, fogging up the windows as it stared longingly into our warm living room.

I had never seen so many presents in one place in my entire life—and Santa hadn’t even stopped by yet.

Though by then I was skeptical at best of the fat man’s existence. I was pretty much just playing along to keep my parents happy. I didn’t want to ruin Christmas for them, or lose out on any potential presents, just in case I was wrong.

Just a few days before Christmas, we heard a noise coming from the pile of gifts—it would seem a creature was stirring.

We were sitting at the kitchen table in our long underwear when we heard it, drinking hot coco and thawing out, celebrating the completion of another snowman to stand guard over our backyard.

I had shed the numerous layers of sweaters, coats, mufflers and mittens—my moon boots sat over a heating vent and my stocking cap was laying by the window next to my three pairs of socks, and two plastic sandwich baggies, drying.

My mom always put sandwich bags on our feet before the boots in a futile attempt to keep us dry, but there was nary a spot left on our bodies that wasn’t soaking wet from melted snow by the time we returned indoors.

As we sipped our coco and took turns staring out the window to marvel at our handy work, a strange voice called out to us.

“Help! Let me out of Here! Help!”

My father, always one to jump head first into the Christmas spirit, was playing with his new toy, a Panasonic tape recorder—the type you had to press the play and record buttons down simultaneously to record.  He had placed it under the presents as a fun little joke, to get us excited about Christmas—as if we needed help.

My sister and I darted out of the kitchen, into the living room. To this very day, I can still feel the rug burns cutting through my long-johns as I slid across the carpet towards the tree.

At this point in the story, I feel I should backtrack for a moment.

Two weeks prior, in what could only be categorized as a momentary lapse in security, I plodded into my parent’s bedroom and found my mom stuffing a gigantic stuffed brown bunny into the back of her closet. She froze like a deer in the headlights for a moment, her foot on the bunny’s head, before saying,

“It’s for your sister. It’ll be our little secret.”

I nodded my head complacently, wondering quietly what the word secret meant.

And that’s why, as my sister and I danced around the tree, giddy with curiosity while my dad stood with his arm around my Mom’s shoulder, basking in Christmas spirit, I said,

“It must be that big brown fuzzy bunny that mommy got you!”

Everyone froze momentarily as my exclamation was processed.

This was the first in a long line of metaphorical cats let out of many, many bags.

My sister wasn’t sure if she should be excited, or upset that her Christmas morning had been ruined as she stood there, exchanging glances with the presents under the tree and my parents, their facial expressions morphing into what can only be described as the “Dammit” face.

If there was indeed a Santa Claus, I had just made his naughty list.

I still can’t keep a secret, and have yet to find my way off that damned list. I could B-B-Q for the next ten summers with all the lumps of coal I’ve earned.

Alright Christmas, (Retro)spect Edition: Bells, Droids, and Bon Jovi

December 7, 2009

I’m a product of the seventies.

That means, by law, I grew up thinking inappropriate thoughts about Princess Leia, collecting Kenner action figures and obsessing over anything that might have happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

I really have to give my parents credit. They suffered through a lot—especially over the holidays.

All they really wanted, was to curl up in front of the Christmas tree, lost in the holiday stylings of the Singers Unlimited and Nat King Cole—instead they listened to droids singing about what to get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb. Rather than watching Bing Crosby tap-dancing with Danny Kaye, while a young, pre-tragic Natalie Wood tugged on Santa’s beard and begged for real estate, they watched Chewbacca celebrating Life Day with special guest stars like Jefferson Starship and Bea Arthur.

What they got was Christmas in the Stars and the Star Wars Holiday Special.

This was back before Lucas knew how to run a franchise with a steel grip.

Now, as I kid, I loved this crap. I listened to my Christmas in the Stars record non-stop from the beginning to the end of every Christmas season—until it mysteriously went missing from our record collection one sad year in the mid-eighties.

This means my parents listened to Christmas in the Stars non-stop—until it mysteriously went missing from our record collection one sad year in the mid-eighties.

Christmas in the Stars was an RSO produced album released in 1980, and follows a group of toy-making droids as they scurry about on Christmas eve, preparing for the arrival of S. Claus.

Not Santa Claus, S. Claus.

Aside from the aforementioned gift giving quandaries produced by the always hard to shop for Chewbacca, the album features original songs rife with droid noises and random canned sound effects from the movie as well as a a touching bastardization of the timeless poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas, through the eyes of C-3PO as voiced by Anthony Daniels himself.

It also features the world-wide debut of a young singer from New Jersey with little more than some holiday cheer and a dream—Jon Bon Jovi.

Listening to it now, I can’t help but appreciate the sacrifice my parents were willing to make for the happiness of their children just a little bit more.

Seriously. Droids singing Christmas songs. Day and night.

Listen for yourself here.

TRACK LISTING —

1. Christmas In The Stars
2. Bells, Bells, Bells
3. The Odds Against Christmas
4. What Can You Get A Wookie For Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb)
5. R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Featuring J.B. Jovi)
6. Sleigh Ride
7. Merry, Merry Christmas
8. A Christmas Sighting (‘Twas The Night Before Christmas)
9. The Meaning Of Christmas

Next week, we’ll dive head first into the TV special, a madcap, drug-induced, yet somehow touching holiday celebration with Wookies, Storm Troopers and a few lessons about the holiday spirit along the way. It aired only once and has since become the bane of George Lucas’ career. (Jar-Jar Binks not withstanding)

PFTIB: A Short Work of Fiction, Vol. 5

November 21, 2009

As the train pushed south, I began to wonder if this would be one of those decisions.

Why was I leaving? I loved London; I loved the pubs and markets, the movement and action.

I was surrounded by people stuck in the same frame of mind as me; travelers from every corner of the world, together, living above a bar, in search of something greater.

It was like living on a reality TV show without the cameras. Before there even was such a thing.

Every waking moment was a party—a desperate attempt to live each day as if it were our last. A life driven by visceral excess.

But that’s not why I was there.

Not anymore, at least.

I wasn’t doing anything I couldn’t be doing anywhere else.

I could party at home, but I could never be a stranger—I could never escape myself in a place so familiar.

Back home I had a past, in London we lived only for the present…

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