Tag Archives: childhood

Universes Here On Earth

My family wasn’t wealthy, but we weren’t eating water soup* every night either. If I could put it into a neat, little box (Americans love that) I would say we were upper-proletariat or lower-middle class. We did OK, I suppose, if only because we did what we had to do and bought off-brand food. I think a lot of my current-day disdain for branding comes from this. I’m very brand loyal IF they’ve proven their worth. For example, I buy from Honda motors because they have treated me right for 15 years.

There’s a reason for all of this wind up, because I will say we (that is my sister, a few neighborhood kids, and myself) would be allowed to play with the garden hose for a couple of hours in the sweltering heat of Summer. What most people do these days is just go to a water park. Entertainment expenditures were just not in the budget at that time. I also think that’s the reason I am compulsively working. I painted a large section of Stonefield’s siding today, because Labor Day feels weird. Isn’t that a laugh riot?

During the moments when we had the hose, I remember wetting down a section of the patio and staring at it close up. I know it sounds a bit dim, but there were universes in the concrete. Please let me explain. As most are aware, concrete contains aggregate (crushed stone, sand, etc.) to act as filler and give the concrete structure. Well, as it turns out, it also sparkles when wet. It looked like the night sky, when I cupped my hands and only let a beam of light through. Some boys were busy burning ants with magnifying glasses. I was busy staring at wet concrete.

So, when it seemed like I was only laying flat on a patio looking stupid, I was really viewing all of the different colors in the cement. All sorts of colors, and all of them twinkling… like the universe. All of the colors planets, with histories, and civilizations. You see, I also used to stare at the night sky, because I really wanted to run away. Not just from my parents or city, but this entire world. I wanted to find a better place for me among the stars, and would fantasize about space travel. Hence some of my stories are science fiction. It’s a holdover from my childhood.

I’m not exactly sure why I wrote this post, but I do know it was something I recalled this afternoon with little provocation. It was like a moving a photo album and having a forgotten picture fall out. This gave me pause, not because I believe “things happen for a reason,” rather I surprised myself with how much I’ve forgotten. It’s almost like I have intentionally done so.


* – A can of water soup is the Depression-era Homestarrunner’s form of entertainment, only to underscore the sheer poverty of people in a “first-world” nation. It’s a parody of early cartoon making where outhouses and family’s sleeping all in one bed were still common practice. It was only about 80 years ago, people. That’s still within a person’s lifetime.

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…and Here I Sit

Wind. Wind could use my attention for a while.  I’ve tuned out the repetitive strumming of the flag clips against the pole in the adjacent lot until now. The wind likes interacting with this world. It loves the attention. Light gusts rub up against my face with traces of pavement and heat. “Catch this,” it says, “I found it in the parking lot!” I should call this air Ralphie, as it reminds me of the family pet. The golden lab cannot sit still for five minutes without approaching you with a toy or panicked look of being forgotten. The trees are all too aware of Ralphie’s presence and curl their smaller limbs like a child handling something disgusting. They’re a bit tired of the breeze today, like the guest who can’t take a hint and leave. Mildly disturbed.

…and here I sit, waxing philosophically when I should be “doing.” There is something to be said for reproaching oneself too often, but isn’t it better to simply enjoy? Such a personal blank to fill. It reminds me of the frustration I got while doing Mad Libs while traveling in the back of my father’s 1983 Buick LeSabre. I was never a spontaneous being. I couldn’t think clearly under pressure. I needed time to lay things out and be deliberate. I desperately wanted to be spontaneous, but couldn’t make it on my own. Everyone was too busy with themselves to show me the way and having to start at ground zero on learning everything was so exhausting. No time to be a kid. Little did I realize that being a kid was the closest to being naturally spontaneous as I could get without being aware of the concept.

How could I? I was a kid. There I go criticizing myself for not knowing everything, or not being great at every little facet of my personality. Perfection is impossible, I know, but I love achieving. Accomplishment makes me want to live, and without it is like losing the love of your life. Self-worth becomes meaningless in the cold, frivolous view of one’s visage in the looking glass. That’s how vices survive.  Ah, Ralphie’s at it again. I’ve lost myself in thought and he decided to breathe on my face because of it. I suppose reminders like that are necessary for people like me. Quick, frequent reminders of spontaneity.

© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Peanut Brittle Family

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and accordingly, there were several meditative posts on people’s fathers. I had to think long and hard if I wanted to post anything on the subject. On a life’s scale, it could be far worse. He could be absent, unavailable, incapacitated with drink or other drugs, in jail, physically abusive, deceased, but he is not. He can be very hard to handle at times, though. I was concerned yesterday evening would be such a case. My muscles were tight and on stand by for the typical family meltdown, but I put on my best happy face and tried to make the best of it.

We made it off a rocky week. My father thinks acting like an ass to upset me is wildly amusing. Maybe private-time me would only be irritated, but to be difficult during business hours is unacceptable. Dragging feet or pretending to drag feet and being obstinate is out of the question. Saying afterwards, “I’m only joking,” is not enough. In fact, I’ve never found apologies meaningful. It’s true they may be sincere and valuable to the speaker, but I don’t find meaning in them. If you would like to apologize, help me out.

Sunday I made it out with only having my meal ruined, and when compared to other times in my life, I’ll take what I can get. My family set out for Port Columbus Int’l (CMH) to pick up my sister. She’s 38, but takes to driving in larger cities like cats do to baths. Something I take pride in is being able to drive, fly, or otherwise commute on my own. Independence has been my bride for years, and I have loved her as tenderly as I ever could love a woman. It makes me grouchy when I get whiffs of fecklessness in my peers. In turn, I get very sore with myself if I find it in me.

Being the considerate, I drove most of the trip. Being it Father’s Day, we decided to have dinner at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus. As a gift, I paid for the four of us. I thought it better than a stupid gift card to a home improvement store. Maybe I was mistaken?

After the arrival at CMH, spirits were rather high. While we waited for the Frontier gorillas to mash the luggage a bit more, I was entertaining myself by riding up and down the escalators like a simpleton. My sister had her little escapade in Pennsylvania, and was being pleasant. My parents seemed happy. We tried to take our luck to the restaurant and ride the fumes out through the night.

Here’s where it started to unravel. With my mother a might peckish, she became irritable. The 45 minute wait was not well received by her, but I was firmly against going to something like Bucca Di Beppo.  We patiently waited, and I decided to anesthetize myself with a 22 oz. beer. Not only did it do the trick, it made me louder. I was told to keep it down more than once by my mother.

After seated, we headed for the dinner buffet. I generally dislike buffets for the clientele it attracts, but will always make an exception for this place. Filling a couple of plates with delightful food, such as bratwurst and German potato salad, I overhear the light squawking of my mother about two pans being empty. Tuning out the first-world problem I went to the red cabbage.

By the time I reached my table, I witnessed the tail end of a “discussion” between my mother and the server. It wasn’t an amiable discussion either. From what I gather, my mother said something about food not being available and assume the server said  it wasn’t her problem in a round about way. In truth, it wasn’t. Those trays are the problem of the line cooks in back. They are the ones to be nagged. She was less than impressed and entered her icy, withdrawn, silent treatment mode with the waitress. Things got ugly after the server left. When we were alone, she turned to me and said, “don’t you dare tip her.”

She couldn’t have struck me harder if she used a monkey wrench. What balls she had telling the person buying her dinner how to pay for a meal. I am her son, yes, but this damn near broke my heart. My willingness to eschew the small irritations of having a good meal for the family went disregarded. My parents are the type of people to stiff the help, if they got a bug up their ass. I am not. I am firmly not. My father chimed in with, “she’s not getting any money from me.” Does anyone truly pay attention in my family? I was… uh… I was picking up the tab for this, Dad.

We made more small talk. All the while, I began to plot. I plotted on how to get them out of the building in order to pay for the meal. The more I thought, the less I tasted my dinner. What a waste. I finally settled on trying to pay at the cash register. A few minutes passed, and I thought we were out in the clear.

My sister, in the stupidest move of the night, unexpectedly cut in with “I wonder at what point she realized she was screwed.” In a very, very hurt fury by now I kicked the leg of her chair and barked, “eat your food!” The usual heavy blanket of silence fell upon the table. A fuse was lit, and I waited for the explosion. My father started in with his usual old man bitching with, “this wasn’t a good idea.” Fuck youFuck all of you miserable assholes. My insides were torn apart. I wanted to be anywhere but there at that point.

Looking at my phone, I found out how much time had passed between our seating and our departure: 30 minutes. 30 minutes. That’s how much time I was given for a family dinner, on my dime, and with nothing but pissy attitudes with it. Everyone was so cross, I couldn’t finish my second beer. It had to be left behind to get these assholes on the road. Fortunately for me, I was feeling some of the beer and it didn’t hurt as much.

I got everyone out of the building to the best of my ability and found the server. With my speech a little on heavy side, I explained to the young waitress I didn’t care what was said, but it really pissed my mother off. It was also stated there was a healthy tip with my payment, because I don’t believe in stiffing people. Ever. Not being able to process English, the girl tried to tell me her side of the story. I ignored her. What part of “I don’t care what happened” do you not understand? Take the fucking grace, dipshit.

On the way home, I kept everything to myself. That’s my only recourse. Do not add fuel. Be courteous. Be brief. I wanted to escape in the worst way. Reflecting in a bar that night, the problem came to light. I’m not an adult in their eyes. I’m nothing but the small boy with the He-Man figures. I’m their little boy… to control, dismiss, and scold. I may never have an adult dinner with my parents for as long as they live, and that’s painful.

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