I Remember

I remember my dad winding up a big mantle clock on his dresser every night. The clock had been his dad's and something about maintaining it seemed to help my dad deal with the death of his parents. I didn't get it at the time, but I think I do now.

Brutha from anutha mutha
I remember when I was very small, my older brother got his very first wristwatch and he was very proud of it. He had to wind it every day. For some reason, this was a big deal to him. By the time I got to be the age he was then, my classmates would show up with wristwatches with calculators on them, big ugly things, and they'd be super stoked about their awesome calculator watches. I never understood why it was such a big deal to them. This was before I fully comprehended the whole "geeks love gadgets" phenomenon.

I remember my older brother, back when he was in elementary school, had a fountain pen that he was required to have for school. It was somehow a big deal, too, and he told me all about it and showed me how it worked. He said every day he'd have to buy more ink cartridges from the supply store at school. By the time I got to school, there was no such thing as fountain pens and the supply store didn't carry anything even remotely connected to them. In fact, I don't recall anyone writing in ink at all.

I remember when I was about 5 or 6, my older brother and our neighbor told me to meet them inside our playhouse in the backyard because they had something big that they were going to show me. So I went to the playhouse and they pulled out cigarettes and matches. They taught me how to smoke and we sat back there smoking away. I didn't get why this was supposed to be fun because all I could think about the entire time I was toking on my cigarette was that I was going to die of cancer. It didn't take me long to kick the habit, what with me not having a regular supply of cigarettes and having a powerful fear of death and all.

I remember when I was about 5 or 6, the city was working to widen a road right next to our neighborhood. In the process, they had dug deep ditches along one side of it and placed large concrete pipes running all the way down, with large drains spaced at various intervals on top. My brother and his friend and I would climb down in those pipes and crawl for blocks. It was inside those pipes that my brother and his friends taught me every single curse word that I know to this very day. I was the only kid starting first grade that I knew of who routinely shouted, "mother fucking goddamn sonofabitch fucking shit ass cunt" whenever I was really angry. Naturally this made me very popular with the teachers. And all my friends parents. It didn't really come in handy until I was much older and began to drive.

I remember my older sisters taking me to see a drive-in movie. There was only one drive-in theater still in business. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. It may have even been the very first movie I ever went to. I'm not sure. Many years later a tornado ripped through and shredded it. Today it's a shopping center filled with restaurant chains and small stores I hardly notice.

I remember when disco was popular. Every time a disco song came on the radio all my friends and I would scream and moan, "when is disco going to ennnnnnnnnd?????" We hated disco with a passion.

I remember my youngest older sister practicing her disco dancing skills in her bedroom with the door locked (no one else in the house except her was ever allowed to lock their door without Dad literally breaking it down) and she'd crank her stereo way up, thinking perhaps that this would drown out the sounds of her stomping and clapping. It didn't. Imagine hearing KC and the Sunshine band performing "Shake Your Booty" over and over again, at high volume blasting through a pair of 15 inch speakers, with stomping and clapping throughout, about 1000 times in a row. Yeah, "shake shake shake ... shake shake shake ... shake your bootie!" Just having that fucking song stuck in your head for the rest of the day should give you a small idea of the torture my family and I endured because of disco and my sister's love of it.

I remember my oldest older sister laying sideways across her bed, flopped over face down like a murder victim, while she listened to one of her many Hank Williams Sr albums while her bedroom door stood wide open, so that everyone upstairs could share in the joys of that deep country twang along with her. Fortunately, she did not enjoy it at window shaking volume the way my youngest older sister did with her disco songs. So I could at least go downstairs to get away from it if I needed to.

I remember sitting in my mom's old Ford stationwagon in the parking lot outside of Belk's where my mom was inside shopping. My sister was with me and we were bored. So we started counting Volkswagen Bugs and Ford Mustangs. We counted those particular cars because they were literally everywhere. More than any other car, those two were absolutely everywhere you looked, all the time, every place you could go. Or at least that's how it seemed at the time.

I remember watching "Starsky and Hutch" and never, ever getting it right as to which was which. For what its worth, I know now. The Jewish guy with most of the jokes was Starsky and the blonde guy playing the straight man was Hutch. I never did care much about their car, though. I liked the car chases a lot. Cop shows at that time tended to have a lot of car chases. At the time I had no idea why. The movie "Bullitt" was before my time.

I remember watching James Bond movies and hearing my Dad complain that "this guy is no Sean Connery." I had no clue who Sean Connery was or why it meant so much to my dad that this guy was not him.

I remember watching movies with my dad and learning more about the people in the movie than you could ever possibly want to know because my dad knew all about the actors and actresses and what went on  scandal-wise when the movie first came out, who was dead and how they died, who had an affair with whom, who was a communist, addicted to drugs, committed to an asylum, etc. But only if the movie was in black and white. The few color movies he could fill me in about were from the 1950s or '60s. Anything from the '70s up to the present day Dad didn't really seem all that interested. I used to think that was odd, but I kind of get it now.

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