Thursday, April 13, 2006

Don't Drink Outta The Milk Carton, Cowlick Divets, & Apollo 11...

If things worked out the way
they're supposed to, we should all look back on our childhood with fondness. Whether we were athletic, or not. Or responsible, or not. Or brainy, or not. Whether we liked store bought Ginger Snap cookies, or cookies made from scratch. Somehow, those fond, childhood memories have a way of coming back to us, triggered by certain sounds, or smells, or images that have implanted themselves forever in our brains. And, when they re-surface years later in our adultness, I think it's kinda Creation's way of reminding us that somewhere within our Suit & Tie Shell, that skinny kid in the overly-baggy swim trunks is still inside there, running thru the neighbor's sprinklers. Childhood memories are the Cosmic equivalent of God tapping us on our burdened, adult shoulders, & saying: "Hey, don't sweat the small stuff... I've taken you this far. Don't worry -- I've gotcha covered". Childhood memories are meant to help us relax, laugh at ourselves, and keep moving on.

Some things about being a kid, I think, are Universal. For example, there is the T=N1N2N3 Equation. (The amount of Trouble we were in is equal to how many of our Names were called out when we finally got busted). If we drank the outta the milk carton, or trampled on the freshly planted flowers, or was caught swearing, we could always tell the severity of our offense by how much of our name was yelled out. If it was just our first name... eh, not so bad. We'll be out riding our bike in ten minutes. First and middle names... might need to do some sweet talking to smooth things over. All 3 of our names... better plead some sort of hereditary ailment, taylored to whichever parent is calling for us. If that fails, go to trusty ole Plan B: blame one of your siblings. :-)

It's amazing how even some of childhood's most painful incidents will later make us smile. I must have half a dozen scars and divets on my mid-life body from multiple bike crashes; or from bailing out of swings at their highest point (pretending to be a Fighter Pilot, shot down over Nazi Germany); or from flipping over park benches while running full speed, trying to catch a frisbee. All were plenty painful at the time (some of my bicycle wrecks would've put Evil Knievel to shame). But, when I look at those scars now, I can't help but smile. Those painfully acquired scrapes on my knees have become: "Wow! That bike wipe-out across ten feet of asphalt and little, sharp rocks was soooo kewl! God, I loved that green bike w/the loopy handle-bars!" There's a mysterious divet on the top of my head, where the cowlick should be, that I have no earthly idea where it came from -- tho I haven't ruled out Extra Terrestrial Abduction. And the notch on my right calve, where the teeth from my bike pedal ate out a chunk of flesh.... yeh, a badge of pride.

Even now, several decades later, the aroma of fresh baking bread conjures up memories of me racing up the street on that fast-as-the-wind green bike, to be there when my Mom or Dad would take the fresh loaves out of the oven, and sneak us kids a piece, still nice n hot.

When I smell lilacs after a rain, I am transported back to being The Invincible Bee Catcher & Tormentor. No empty Miracle Whip jar was big enough to hold my day's catch. One of my favorite childhood skills wasn't when I learned how to drive a car; but, rather, when the neighbor kid across the street taught me how to sneak up on bees, and smash them with the palm of my bare hand, while they were busy sucking on clover. (No bee stings -- I truly was Invincible!).

And when I catch a rare rerun today of the cartoon, 'Gigantor', The Space Aged Robot, I can't help but imagine again that I'm flying, and start to sing to myself the Gigantor theme song. You couldn't be a little kid growing up in the late 60's without knowing or loving Gigantor. One of my brothers even immortalized the Space Aged Robot on the inside wall of the garage, using a blue crayon. Gigantor is still flying today, on that same garage wall, almost 40 yrs later.

It's amazing, really. Childhood memories are salve for the ailments of adulthood. Mental Band Aids for our everyday stress. Momentary little time capsules that propel us magically away from the frantic Now of our lives.

Today, I begin to panic when I even think about being in a very confined space, unable to move my arms. Even if I dream about a situation like that, I wake up in a sweat & panic, my heart racing 90 miles per hour. But when I was a kid, I used to slide the lowest, 3rd bunkbed underneath the 2nd bunk. I'd somehow squeeze myself into that impossibly cramped space, with my little transistor radio in-hand, and tiny earplugs. On a clear nite, it could just barely catch the staticky signal from 'Might As Well Be The Moon', far-off Oklahoma City, and radio station KOMA, & I'd pretend I was one of those Apollo Astronauts inside the Command Module. I'd probably give a good chunk of my savings account to find one of those tear-out/fold-out, paper replicas of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, that my Dad bought for me at the Union 76 gas station, on the day that Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon.

Yes, if things worked out the way they're supposed to, we should all look back on our childhood with fondness. And as I now look back at my rather mundane life, several thousand lunar orbits
later, I'm starting to see that instead of being uneventful, my life really has been an adventure rivalling those first, tenative trips to the moon.

Maybe I really have achieved something notable? Maybe
even the most awesomely plain life is an accomplishment & a wonder all to itself, with real value? Maybe I finally get it??

"Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed".

1 comment:

  1. you are anything but "awsomelyplain" you make my day with just the things you say and even tho i don't know who "gigantor" is.....he must of been great!!! i'm thinking your probably great also :)