Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Damn Useless Pieces of Plastic

Damn kids and their Legos.

I've just stepped, for the 1069th time, on a damn four-pegger lego piece that one of the cats has kidnapped out of the kid's room and played hockey down the hall with.

You walk down the hall in the dark night hours and feel the stab of some small piece of plastic-ass bullshit driving into the soft meat of your arch--and you immediatly pull your foot up wondering if you've stepped on some piece of cat vomit/cat shit/rusty nail, or one of the young buck's play things.

I usually have a 50% success rate of it being one of the kid's pieces of plastic bullshit. The other half of the time I end up with my foot in the hall bathroom sink washing something foul from between my toes.

This evening it was another Lego piece. The night before it was an Anakin Skywalker (Volcano Damage Version--Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith) that caused me to jump 3 feet into the air.

It takes at least 30 minutes to clean out the hall bathroom's bathtub when guests show up, as it houses a cornucopia of 'action figures' and their various accessories. The kid is 2 degrees past spoiled.

I blame his grandparents. Between my family and my wife's there was one family unit separation, which has resulted in, at the end of the day, 3 grandmothers for this kid. And the kid's the ONLY grandchild between the three blended families. My sis never had kids, nor did my wife's brother. He's the SOLE LONE GRANDCHILD. And you know how Grandmothers are, and you know how Aunts can be, too (my sister). Kid's spoiled more than a gallon of milk with last week's date.

This kid's nickname is "The Boy King" - He wants for nothing.

His Kingdom is the damn bathtub.

He knows not what toys he owns, as they number the thousands.

I was lucky to have a single GI Joe, a Major Matt Mason, and a half-dozen Hot Wheels.

But still, growing up has its advantages.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Rumble of the Ages

Halloween's over.

My eight year old son made the big candy haul last night, whoofed down a few chocolate nuggets of some tooth-decaying matter, and crashed like a big dog around 8:15.

I remember well acting the same way 36 years ago, and it got me thinking about the 'memories of youth' that are framed in golden-hued nostalgia that probably isn't real, but that's the difference between memories and film.

The place:
My old home town- Kings Mountain, North Carolina.

The memory:
1973. There I was, age 12, exiting the 50 year-old Joy Theater after a Saturday matinee movie.

The Rat Palace, we called it, where fifty cents would gain you admittance to the latest badly dubbed Godzilla flick or Clint Eastwood spaghetti western.

Where your feet stuck to the seldom-cleaned floor; sticky with the Sprite of Ages- and the popcorn was the only fresh thing you could depend on for a cinematic munchy.

Where the padlocked door on the right side of the main entrance was a vague reminder of a time when it was the only portal the black folks of this town had for gaining entry to the theater. The doorway led to a separate stairway that offered them seating in the balcony of the theater.

But that was six years earlier and now I'm twelve, everyone uses the same set of doors no matter what color they are, and we're going to the theater without a parental watchdog (those were the safe days). Just my friends and I, our feet raised up on the seat backs in front of us, throwing Milk Duds at the screen until Mac, the big, tall, gruff manager, made his rounds and slapped our feet down. Mac's office, just to the right of the lobby, had a huge, stuffed albatrose that hung from the ceiling. It was pretty damn creepy.

After the movies would end we’d wait across the street where the Southern Railroad Line ran straight through the middle of town. The National Guard Armory had a monument set up there-a small cannon from World War II. I have no idea of the caliber. It was large in my preteen eyes. It was mounted on a big concrete platform with chains around it. Of course the chains never stopped us. We’d climb around on it and play GI Joe, feigning gunshot wounds to the chest and legs and throwing ourselves off the cannon’s base onto the ground.

Playtime stopped at the sound of an approaching train.
Quick! Get you pennies out! Hurry!

We’d place our remaining coins on the rails and then lie on the ground some five or six feet away from the track. We’d focus on the location of our coins and wait.

The rumble and crunch of the approaching locomotive would shake our prone bodies and the always-excitable minds housed in our small skulls would race with thoughts of the train jumping the tracks if it didn’t hit the pennies just so. The freight whistle would blast loud enough to make us squint our eyes shut and grip the grassy bank with tight fists as the train thundered ever closer.

A hundred feet, twenty, then with a deafening roar and thunderous shake it would pass us, and we’d catch a brief glimpse of our coins flying hither and yon.

After a mile of boxcars and the caboose passed we’d rush up and search the gravel between the rails for our coins. Sometimes we’d not find a single one and then there were times when one of us would raise our hand in triumph.

We’d all gather round and examine it as if it were found treasure from an uncharted island. No longer resembling a penny, it was now an inch and a half-long ellipse of smooth copper, slightly curved like a crescent.

The brotherhood would then be broken up by one of the mothers showing up to shuttle us back to our homes.

The trains still run through the middle of my hometown. The cannon is now gone, and the old Joy Theater has at times been an evangelical church, and most recently refurbished as the new Little Theater for our local thespians. And as sure as the tracks still carry the thundering trains of my youth through the middle of that small town, there’s still roughly a buck fifty in stretched-out pennies lying amidst the gravel of the early 70s.