The Player: You see, we're strictly of the Blood, Love and Rhetoric school. We can do you Blood and Rhetoric without the Love, or Blood and Love, without the Rhetoric, or all three concurrent or consecutive; but we can't do you Love and Rhetoric without the Blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, see?
Guildenstern: Is that what people want?
The Player: It's what we do.
What's the first thing you remember? The first thing, after all the things you've forgotten?
For me? My earliest memory? I've talked about it in my journal before, I have no doubt... but probably not in any detail. If I'm not mistaken (and who could correct me if I'm wrong?) It's of a visit to the Boston Zoo (Franklin Park
, I believe) as a young boy (I was perhaps 3 or 4, prior to my brother's birth, in any event) with my Mother, her pal Vera, Vera's infant daughter, Michelle (maybe a year old at the time). We got to see monkeys, bears, and visited the reptile house. The warm-blooded creatures seemed happy and playful.... the cold blooded ones didn't strike me as having any personality in particular, save for being alive. I wanted to swing from one of the snakes like Tarzan on a vine... I imagine I saw that in a cartoon somewhere.
There was also a petting zoo, but Michelle was too frightened of the goat to stay for long. My first memory of petting an animal is a brown rabbit... unless petting Lila (a black/white/brown Lhasa Apso she-dog we had earlier) is an earlier memory that I've misfiled along the way. I don't know if the rabbit was a male or a female, the black nose was wiggly, and the creature was warm and easily loved by a child despite smelling a bit like a barnyard. I don't remember the lions, or any big cats.
Michelle is dead now. My Mother thinks that she saw Shelly's ghost when she went up for the funeral. Shelly never married, but was a sweetheart. I still have a small memento of her life in me because she's a part of that first memory. Vera divorced her husband last year.. or was it the year before? I don't know if it was because the kids were out of the house, and they had nothing in common, or if it was something else. Joe had a hot temper, and Vera was a bit of a stoic. Kevin, Michelle's younger brother, perhaps 30 himself now, has married and divorced, too. When I think of Kevin, I still think of him at five years old, great at skating on ice, and playing kiddie-hockey, like any good Northern kid... when I moved away, to Virginia.
Was that really so long ago? Back when Star Wars figures were new... a favored land speeder with my name written on it in black magic marker, so I'd be able to tell it from the toys of the neighbor kids. Chewbacca always got to drive, because he matched the color of the car, along with Jawas, Sand people and C3PO. (I always favored the Villains and non-human figures. More interesting costumes.) Plus, Browns, golds and rusts have always been a nice set of colors for plastic toys. Do I like Chewbacca because of that rabbit, long ago?
More difficult is trying to think when my second-oldest memory is. What comes next? My room? Pale blue, with many different colored pennants made of felt. A blue one With Linus. A mustard Yellow with Charlie Brown Happiness is a warm puppy, a green one with Snoopy on his doghouse, Cursing the Red Baron
. (Wow, it's amazing what can be found on the Internet.) A basement playroom with a franklin stove
, fishing net motif, with dried starfish and red rubber lobsters.... a toybox my dad made, with a whale inlaid on the top along with the names of both of his sons in now-inexplicably gothic lettering. I wonder where that toybox went to? It followed us all the way to Florida, and was still in the garage when I moved out on my own. Its sort of sad to think that it may be broken up in a landfill now. I hope that it's something that is still loved, somewhere. I played my first vampire in a coffin in that box. It held Tonka Trucks, hot wheels and track, Big buckets of Lego bricks, Star wars figures, super hero dolls (not action figures yet... we could call 'em dolls and still be dead butch) including the Hulk with his bolted limbs. Lincoln logs, tinkertoys, and real wooden blocks that my dad made from scrap... he sanded and shellacked those things to the point where not only would there never be a splinter, and they were just about frictionless on the carpet. He also stained them all sorts of colors.... I don't think any two blocks were the same shade, all went from Pine-blond to Mahogany dark. [update 8:22....I called my brother, and found out through his beer-slurred speech that he had the toybox until he moved to Hawaii. He couldn't find anyone to take it in, so he left it by the side of the road for anyone to pick up. Last seen ten years in the past.]
These memories make me feel sort of bittersweet. My Dad must've been about my age now when I was 12. He made so many things for my family. Provided a home, clothing, food... built toys, bought even more. Taught me all sorts of things that I use regularly. I'm glad that I can apply things about him in my daily life... it's nice to let the good parts of the past help to build the future by way of the present. It's a damn shame he had to die so early on, but I'm honored to be a part of his bloodline and to be allowed to pass his knowledge on to others, by example if in no other way. My dad wasn't perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but he made pretty good use of the tools at hand. I like to think that I do the same.
What was my first book? I know this one, but I can't seem to recall... my mind has other thoughts rattling around in the forefront right now, blocking the light of that particular memory like moths in front of a candle. I'll move on for now... I'll rethink more memories later, dear journal.
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