Friday, November 18, 2005
The Boy Who Limped
Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing will not be seen today. With the release today of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we are entering officially the holiday movie season, which means the release of movies I actually intend to see. Sure, there are still plenty of others I do not intend to see that deserve recognition. And further, just because I intend to see Harry Potter is no guarantee that such an event will come about. But I'd hate to go on and on about it and then end up seeing it, making a liar out of myself.
As everyone knows, Pops is a seasoned liar. Like any seasoned liar I have the ability to rationalize at a very high level and to invent fine distinctions in order to sate the nagging conscience I should by all accounts have. For instance, I have no trouble lying when the lie is pure fabrication (my wife is a Peruvian cave woman, I am flamingly gay, I have children, etc.) but I hesitate to lie to cover up things that actually happen just to cover my own ass (I spent $800 playing on-line baccarat, I'm cutting again, I have children, etc.). The problem with cover-up lies is that they conflict on a point-by-point basis with actual events, necessitating lots of detailed false back-story and improvisation to cover up any holes. One mistake and you're dead.
So if I were to write about not intending to see Harry Potter and then saw it, and then pretended I didn't so as to protect my reputation for intellectual purity and virtue with you, my child-like readers, one day I would be made to pay for it. I would be talking about how uncomfortable the burgeoning hotness of Emma "Hermione" Watson made me during such-and-such a scene in Goblet of Fire and BLAMMO! A hi-larious future post about pedophilia would send the whole house of cards crashing in on itself.
I can't afford that kind of disappointment. It'd be like telling you people there is no Santa Claus.
Oh God, I've done it now...
In lieu of pretend entertainment reports certain not to entertain you, I've decided instead to not entertain you by telling a personal story from my childhood. It is full of lies and distortions, but of the type I am comfortable with.
I have a neice who is about to turn 12. She's excited because she gets to stay home by herself every once in a while now when her parents go to the store or something. Just a few minutes at a time to test her independence and the flammability of the furniture. I don't know how she gets any serious smoking done in that period of time, but I'm sure she does her best.
What makes me laugh about it is that I'm old. OK, not so funny really, but way back in the misty past, when I was but a wee sprig of a lad in the 1980s, I can hardly remember a time after I reached school age when I wasn't left alone (or at least without adult supervision) for long periods of time. Well before the age of 12 anyway.
The term "latch-key kid" always sounded so depressing to me. Yes, there were no parents home, but "latch-key" sounds like we were dirty-faced urchins with crappy Dick Van Dyke Cockney accents, straight out of Oliver Twist. Of course that's all rubbish. Except for the Cockney accent. It was a phase. At the time I was all about replacing my Ts with glottal stops. Kids.
I grew up with just my mother and two sisters. Mom was going to nursing school through most of the early '80s and working. So we had to sell the Ferrari and go on public assistance for a while. Powdered milk isn't as bad as it sounds. In fact, it's indescribably worse. It's exactly what the humiliation of poverty tastes like. But it's OK with chocolate.
So one parent, three kids, no money for day-care and mom on a 22-hour-a-day work/school schedule meant that there were some opportunities for zero supervision. Lots of TV got watched. He-Man, GI Joe, professional wrestling... all very gay in retrospect. But this story isn't about that.
One thing that was rock-solid understood is that we HAD to go to school. No matter what. Sick, bored, scared of the bully, just broke up with the teacher, didn't matter. Had. To. Go. Home alone after school for several hours was fine, but a whole day home was not acceptable.
The morning I couldn't find one of my shoes was quite a quandary for my 8-year-old brain, then. I looked. I really did. Mom was rushing around like a crazy person, as she did every morning, getting us and herself ready. I hesitantly shared my no-shoe dilemma with her. In either a brilliant parental motivation maneuver or the desperation of a woman on the edge, she looked at me for about a second and said "You're going to school today."
I looked again. I looked for my shoe like no other 8 year old has ever looked for anything in the history of 8-year-olds. I moved things. I looked behind things.
It's funny how something as mundane and purely sensual as tactile sensation can rearrange the context of entire experiences by giving a person a perspective on things they hadn't even considered considering before.
For instance if you ride your bike to school with one foot only in a sock, you really notice those metal bumpy things on the edges of the pedals that help what should be your shoe stay put. With just a sock on, you really notice those things. Mostly because they kind of hurt.
It's also a good way to learn a new appreciation for something you might have taken for granted. Like how good shoes are when you have to do something like walk across a grass field in the morning. I know poets like to use the word "dew" because it conjures up sparkly images of glisteny spring, but when you have to walk on it with a sock, you realize that poets are stupid. On a basic, sock-contacting, functional level, dew is just water. It soaks up into your sock just as easily as a puddle of non-poetic mud water would so that your sock makes a sloppy slap slap slap sound when you transition from lawn to asphalt playground.
The good thing about the whole experience once I arrived at school is that I was surround by 1st-through-6th graders, the kindest, most understanding subset of humanity there is. They all bravely averted their eyes so as to preserve my quiet human dignity.
No, I'm kidding. I got a lot of "Hey, you only have one shoe! Look, he only has one shoe! Your no-shoe is stupid! You're stupid! Ha ha ha, stupid!"
Uninspiring I know, but it wasn't a very good school.
My teacher was horrified. She sent me to the office. They didn't know what to do with me, so I sat in the nurse's office. I was 8, so I was happy not to be in class reading some stupid story about some stupid dog who could talk to teach me to respect people of all races or not to play with matches.
Eventually one lady was elected (I don't know if she was a vice-principal or a receptionist or a janitor or what) to take me in her little car to a store where they sold shoes. I got to pick out a brand new pair of $5 shoes all for myself. A complete set! Matching and everything!
To quote a famous internet philosopher, I spent the rest of the day feeling like King Shit of Fuck Mountain. One shoe for each foot. And for free! Hot damn!
Of course I didn't know at the time that the lady who bought me my shoes was going "Oh the poor dear with his poverty-stricken lifetsyle and the one shoe. His mother is probably a drug addict who neglects him horribly."
That wouldn't have bothered me because I knew the truth was that no, mom wasn't a drug addict, she just had places to be. I didn't understand that I was supposed to be humiliated and mortified and angry at the breach of dignity from people trying to help me.
All of this was explained to me in careful detail when my mom got home and saw my exciting new shoes. She told me the shoes would be going back, ASAP. I said "Oy, 'at's bollox, mate," but mom could not be dissuaded, even in 8-year-old Cockney. She delivered them personally to the office person in question the next time she had an hour to spare. I'm sure words were exchanged, but I missed that. I always miss the good stuff.
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0