Posts Tagged ‘youth’

PFTIB: A Short Work of Fiction, Vol. 9

November 7, 2015

ps1

I was fortunate enough to live within the moment, all the while knowing that it would one day be something I would look back on nostalgically. It’s a powerful feeling to live in the now, but still aware that the moment was something slightly bigger. This was London. This is why I came in the first place.

And this is why I was leaving.

This is why I was sitting on a train, with everything I owned strapped on my back slowly making my way south.

I really missed my walkman. The empty train car was a terrible conversationalist, and any inner dialogue I might have had was said hours ago, leaving me with an awkward silence in my own head. It was like my junior prom all over again, only without a date staring blankly back at me.

I could have stayed in London. I could have carried on at the pub with my friends, drinking, smoking and treating each day as if it might be our last. I had found nothing but amazing experiences riddled in excess hiding around every corner of the city, but…I needed something more. This might be the only chance I had to strike out in search of something else with such lightness. It was a moment and I was living within it, all the while knowing I was headed toward something slightly bigger. This was Kent.

This is why I came in the first place.

But this time, I was completely on my own, and it was scary as hell.

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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)

(Retro)spect: Birthday Edition

November 30, 2009

Tomorrow’s my birthday. I’m old, and only getting older as each minute passes.

Birthdays have somehow lost their luster over the years. They’ve become less of an event, more of an ordeal.

Anticipation is replaced with gentle reminders of our mortality, usually by virtue of friends making fun of our age.

Yes, I know I’m closer to 40 than 30. Thanks.

Instead of blowing out a candle for every year lived, we blow out candles in the shape of numbers, lest we risk setting off the smoke detector.

Instead of dreaming about the future, we’re taking stock of where we are and what we’ve done.

We wonder what’s left.

But it wasn’t always like this.

I can still remember my sixth birthday.

I was in first grade.

That was the year I got what has become one of my two favorite birthday presents of all time:

Hungry Hungry Hippos.

I didn’t even know it existed before I tore into a bright shiny box, wrapped with colorful paper and ribbon and found myself staring down in wonderment.

It was just a game. An inexpensive, plastic game. I didn’t even know I wanted it until it was mine.

But I loved that game more than just about any toy I’ve ever owned—more than any present I ever asked for.

These days, if you were to ask me what I wanted for my birthday, I’d say a career doing what I love. I’d say stability.

I’d rattle  off a half dozen intangible things that aren’t for sale.

It’s less about what I want and more about what I need.

But perhaps all I really need is to find myself staring down in wonderment at something I never knew existed—something I didn’t know I wanted until it was mine.

(Retro)spect

November 17, 2009

retrospect

I’m a part of Generation X.

I’m part of the last generation to live through the cold war, and the first generation to do worse than their parents.

I lived through the 80’s before they became retro.

I watched TV in black and white, and my phone actually had a dial—not buttons. I remember a life before call-waiting.

I witnessed first hand the death of disco and the birth of punk rock.

I’m old enough to be pissed off by remakes of the movies from my youth.

I owned an IntelleVision, a step above Atari, below ColecoVision—and ran the Pit Fall course backwards.

I died of dysentary on the Oregon Trail.

I not only remember the Challenger explosion, but the Very Special episode of Punky Brewster about the Challenger explosion.

The themes from M*A*S*H and Hill Street Blues were my lullabies.

I’m old enough to know that the now-retro fashion choices coming back into popularity were a bad idea the first time around.

My cartoons were hand drawn, and when I read, I chose my own adventure.

Old.

I’m old enough to be annoyed by teenagers and never get carded for beer anymore.

I’m old enough to remember when MTV played music.

Most importantly, I’m old enough to be nostalgic for my youth.

That’s why I find myself trolling the web for bits and pieces of it every now and then…

Now, I’ll admit…

I didn’t really develop much of a life until the 90’s. I spent far more time with the Ricker and Arnold Jackson than I did real people.

That’s probably why most of the memories from my youth are centered around the television.

So look forward to more trips, or perhaps more to wit, staggers down memory lane from time to time…

 

Age Before Beauty

March 24, 2008

wtch

When I was younger, I did a lot of things. Mine was a life full of rich, unusual stories.

Not unlike anyone else.

I lived abroad, and wore every hat imaginable. I walked across hot coals, spent a Christmas in Amsterdam and paid a small, possibly homeless child to electrocute me with a car battery while on a tequila binge in Mexico.

I sought out the strangest of miracles at every turn. I lived recklessly and in excess, and developed more fantastic memories and experiences than time allows mention.

Somewhere along the line, however, my memories have softened into Hallmark moments. My experiences are all work related; they’ve become little more than marketable skills–a job history on a resume.

It’s not unlike earning merit badges when I was a cub scout, though these days my merit badges are computer knowledge and job-related work history.

It’s got to be an age thing. Most of my friends are experiencing the same G-rated conversion in life, though most of them have done so due in no small part to that whole procreation thing. We used to drink till dawn and dine with the gods. Now, we go to brunch at kid-friendly restaurants.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that don’t get me wrong.

My point isn’t about making babies. We can burn that bridge some other time.

My point is that where I once howled at the moon, I now scream at traffic. Once I walked on fire, now I walk on eggshells. The occurrences in my life have become predictable and safe–normal.

And lord knows, I’m not a normal person.

There is very little chaotic beauty out there, brought about by a random series of events that time together to create those miracles.

I can’t remember the last time one of my stories ended with, “and then a one-armed midget pulled me out of the snow drift.” There’s no “random” hiding around any corners.

Or maybe I’m just not looking hard enough.