Posts Tagged ‘1982’

Grampa’s jacket

February 15, 2013

I can’t find my grandfather’s jacket.

It’s an ugly, dirty jacket that’s too big for me. I look like a bag lady in it.

When I was 12 I had a flu I’ll remember forever. On the first day of it, my grandparents were over for dinner. I was balled up on the couch with chills.

Grampa crouched by me, kissed my forehead and took off his jacket. My eyes were closed, but I remember feeling him drape it over me. It was warm from him — a curing, comforting warmth. I haven’t found that same relief from fever chills since.

Decades later, he kept Tootsie Rolls in the pockets for my children. He always had them there. I imagine him filling those pockets before he left the house.

My children were 4 and 6 when he died of an early morning heart attack.

He used to call my daughter ‘The Baby.’ He must have been having delusions in his last moments, because right before he died he said, ‘The Baby’s bringing me cookies.’

She’s 17; I still call her The Baby.

And I’m hysterical, because I can’t find the jacket.


January 14, 2013

Three years ago I was substitute teaching some for extra money, (my real job is as a copy editor.)

One day I was at my old junior high school taking over a friend’s English class on what I still think of as the archery field.

The children were fascinated to know PE class used to include a week of archery. I was fascinated that anyone would think this was a good thing. Archery terrifies me.

And as so often happens, I started explaining, and it started sounding ridiculous to me….

Every year in spring Mrs. Tilson marched us across the campus in our little white shorts and bright yellow — which they cooled up by calling ‘gold’ — striped T-shirts. We stood with our backs to the busy street, facing blocks of hay with targets on them, and heard about the dangers of the feathers.

That’s right, the feathers.

‘Don’t get your fingers in the way of the feathers,’ is how the speech began. ‘When they whiz by, they’re like razors. They will cut your fingers.’

And then came the worst part. Mrs. Tilson told about the kid who held the arrow too close to his face, and when he released it, a feather sliced his eyeball in half.

In preparation for writing this entry, I Googled ‘archery dangers,’ ‘feather dangers’ and ‘archery safety tips.’

Guess what. Mrs. Tilson is the only one who knows about the feathers.

Clothes shopping

October 5, 2012

Yesterday’s post reminded me of shopping for clothes when I was my daughter’s age.

My mother would hand over her credit card. My Oldest Friend got $20 a month, which she was supposed to budget and accumulate. I was dying of jealousy. That struck me as a fortune.

I did not understand why she didn’t abuse this situation.

I  must have bugged her about it, because I remember her telling me, lots, that Brian was going to ask to see her monthly balance. Brian was her shiny new step-dad.

At one point we signed up for dance lessons together. The next day we walked to the mall to get matching leotards.

The first pair we tried on made it glaring to me this was a bad idea. Tia had glorious hooters and I had naught. Wearing identical stretchy bits drew the eye to my shortcomings.

But I’ve always had more pride than vanity, so I kept quiet and handed over mom’s MasterCard.

The leotards we bought were white cotton, with little puffy sleeves and sprinkles of pink, gray and purple triangles. They must have been pricey, because she was on about having to show Brian her monthly balance.

I double-dog dared her to go in there and stand on one foot.

She never did what I said. That was probably a good thing.

Marco Polo

August 2, 2012

It’s summer. We have a pool. Sometimes I hear, “Marco!

I was wondering this afternoon what about Marco Polo inspired his name’s being used in this way.

I wouldn’t know. The only thing I remember from my seventh-grade social studies lesson on the explorer is that he’s from Venice.

Here’s why I remember that.

Mr. Snodgress — the one who made us color maps — told us that Marco Polo suffered a terrible injury to his eyes.

And that after that he was a Venitian blind.

The casino story

July 31, 2012

Tonight at dinner my son’s girlfriend told us her parents went to Morongo casino with $500 and lost it all.

On the way out, her dad found a single dollar in his pocket. He put it in a machine and won $700.

I’m lucky too, kind of.

I have been in a casino once in my life. I was 14.

There was a family reunion in Lake Tahoe. My aunt Elsie, one of my grama’s sisters, was a gambler like nobody’s business. She dragged a bunch of people over the state line to Reno for an afternoon.

She, my grama, my mom and I don’t even know who else were in the casino, and my cousins and I were in an arcade in another part of the mall.

Aunt Elsie was winning, and she kept bringing us tokens.

The arcade games took quarters.

My cousin Stephanie and I went to find her and give them back. We stood in the hall area at the entrance to the action. The slot machines were packed in tight, right up to the edge of the door jamb.

…Where I stood with a pocketful of tokens.

What would you do?

I still technically had my feet outside the casino, which I thought meant something, I guess. I dropped a token in a slot machine and pulled the handle.

It was loud. Lights started flashing, sirens went off and coins poured clanking into a steel bin. Oops.

Security guards were on me before I had a chance to curse. I remember without affection the brick surface my face was pressed against. My hands were behind my back.

The guard got me out of reach of the winnings and demanded, “Where are your parents? Are your parents here?”

“No.” Please don’t let one of my 50 relatives in the room look this way.

“How did you get here?”

“We walked from our hotel.” This was taking a long time. OK, if someone has to see us, please let it be Aunt Elsie. Aunt Elsie would probably keep a straight face and tell the officer I was 21.

He let me go with a hollering at, and my family was none the wiser.

Except Stephie, who laughed all the way back to the arcade. “I wish you could have seen your face. Man you were sh**ting bricks.”

Based on this one-token history of casino gambling, I announce myself to be lucky, kind of.

My history teacher

April 9, 2012

I just got back from taking my grama to the doctor’s office. While we were in the waiting room, I noticed my eighth-grade history teacher signing in.

He looks the same: tan, fit, hunchy right shoulder, cotton-white handlebar moustache, bangs brushed neatly to the side.

He’s a visual character. I went as him for Halloween the year I was his student.

I sprayed my hair white and stretched cotton over my upper lip, fashioning curls at the ends. I wore a plaid dress shirt. I even mimicked his walk and his constant ‘Hmph.’

I was spot-on.

I had so captured his likeness that when I trick-or-treated, my 24-year-old cousin opened the door and said, “Hey! You’re Mr. Arnett.”

Mr. Arnett didn’t take it as a compliment. The next thing I knew I was transfered to Mr. Joyce’s history class.