Sunday, August 14, 2005


Sorry for the dearth of posts, I have come down with a huge case of the "lethies". Such is what a high school friend used to call being over come by lethargy. A frequent occurrence, deserving of its own name. She and I, owing to our bit o' German heritage, also had pet names for each other: She was Kraut Butt and I was Thunder Thighs. Skinny everywhere else, no amount of running ever managed to alter this. Being tagged by the marvelous Mojavi for a flurry of childhood memories got me musing on such. While I have nothing to remotely rival her experiences, which only leave me to wonder how the hell she is still drawing breath, with all her limbs and digits intact, I submit the following:

1) You know me. I love to read. In fact, I was so reading obsessed that, as my dad has told me more than once, I am partly to blame for my sister's aversion to that whole reading thing. She apparently was horrified enough by my nerdly and isolating hobby that she basically forswore the whole reading thing as much as possible. Well, one day, as I lay on my stomach on the floor of my bedroom, around the age of 8 or 9, I became irrationally irritated by a bit of bangs that were growing out and kept hanging in my eyes. Thinking to teach the intrusive hair a lesson, I grabbed a handy pair of scissors and lopped the hair off, about a 1/2 inch from the scalp. Unfortunately, not only was this hair in the front (being former bangs and all) but also occupied the spot of honor, right over the cowlick, just over my right eye. The remaining stub of hair now stuck straight up, much to my mother's horror and my father's glee, earning me the nickname of Dagwood. My advice? Think the use of the scissors through very carefully. Thankfully, hair grows.

2) This next one is fairly obligatory in many kids' memories, probably with suprisingly few variations: For mine, it was at the wedding of my aunt and uncle. It was a small affair, thrown in their home, maybe 30-40 guests, just enough to make the place crowded and distract everyone's attention from my sister and me, the only 2 kids. I was about 8 and she, 5. It was summer, hot, the two of us in our fancy dresses. We were each given one cup of sweet, red punch, which we downed quickly. Being polite kids, we waited for someone to ask us if we wanted more. And waited. And ate cake and finger food, which made us thirstier. And then noticed the large punch bowl on the corner table, the one with all the cups around it. Deciding that we had been patient enough, and knowing our parents valued self-sufficiency, I led the way over and filled cups for us, which we gulped down, and had more. Lots more. Tasted like red punch. Then we got sleepy. And giggly. Don't really remember much more but was told that I was found to be slumped in an arm chair and Gail was on her back, spinning in circles on the floor. For some reason, our parents watched us like hawks at any and all further parties after that, and our cups were kept full of child-acceptable beverages.

3) The next, I still shake my head over. A life lesson, if you will. Sort of a poor After School Special sort of thing. I am 11, it is spring and I am in 6th grade track. Basically, this means we run a bit after school and have 1 meet at the end of the month with like 2 other grade schools, or maybe it was just one other school. Anyway. Me, running the vast distance of the 440 (pre-metric track events). Before hand, Dad, the running expert, pulled me aside and recommended that I walk the track and make sure there were no suprises. I blew this suggestion off. I mean, what surprises? Land mines? Gopher holes in the surface of the rubber high school track? Clowns lurking with cream pies? So, we line up, get the standard instructions for this event, which are to stay in our lanes until half way down the back stretch and to be at least 2 strides in front of any other runners we cut in front of. I am also chanting the advice to cut to the inside as soon as possible, to minimize the distance run as the outside lanes are longer around the curves. The starting gun goes off and I jump to the lead! Pulling away in front! And there it is. In the middle of my lane, and only my lane, a massive hurdle. Literally. A hurdle. And it is before we are allowed to leave our lanes. I slam to a stop. I wait. Everyone else passes me. I decide to break the rule and go around the hurdle, briefly going into the other lane. I race off again. I cut to the inside lane. I am catching up! I am reeling in and passing everyone! There is just one runner left, she is in the inside lane but I am gaining!! I pass her just a bit before the finish line and, JUST AS TOLD, but without thinking a whit, I cut in to the inside lane, cutting her off and cross the finish line, in first place. I am, of course disqualified. There is a bit of hope when the judges find about the hurdle, but they rightly find that that does not excuse the cutting off of the other girl. I never EVER fail to walk the course again, both in running and in a lot of other metaphorically similar life situations. It also takes me a while to do things, not wanting to make that mistake again.

4) This next is just a sort of general childhood smile, nothing specific, no particular day, just something that I think of when remembering the few years I spent living in central Illinois aged 5-7. Dad was stationed on the now defunct base of Chanute, outside that thriving metropolis of Rantoul, population 17 or something like that. Lots of dust, cornfields, and horizon. The base was like any other. Duplexes and yards and no fences. Sidewalks and quiet streets for riding your bike. Flat streets with storm drains that no one seemed to clean out, because, clearly, if they were cleaned and therefore able to do their job of draining the rain water away, then STREET FLOODS would never happen. First, the summer thunderstorm and deluge would occur, with the ususal prayers for no tornados, and then we would all burst from our houses, the kids to splash in the warm, oily, water that was 6" deep in the street, laughing in the waves that were made by slowly driving cars or quickly ridden bikes. Our parents to gather, watching, laughing and talking, beers in hand. Impromptu dinner parties no doubt being scheduled. I hated the constant moving, I hated being the new kid at school; but the community that existed in the military, the instant acceptance, will live in my soul forever. And you wonder why I love storms?

5) Lastly, a sappy one: We are living on McCord Airforce Base, just outside of Tacoma, WA. I am in 3rd grade. We all have to make posters for the energy conservation contest. Someone from each grade will win the amazing prize of a tour of some planes (hey, what else do you do on an air force base), lunch at the Officer's Club, and our picture in the base's weekly newspaper. I really don't want to win as winning will call attention to me. I am nothing if not shy. I come up with a picture that I am sure will lose, as I am not sure if anyone will get the joke. It is a lamp in sunglasses on an end table saying, "Hey, man, keep me cool!" (Hey, man, it is the mid '70s.) I arrive at school the day they announce the winners, a bunch of my classmates drag me over to the window. (It is before school is open for the day and everyone coming early hangs out, playing on the playground, unsupervised, of course.) There, written on the board in large letters is "Congratulations, Diana!". Yup. Best laid plans and all that. So I win, get the grand prize ( I still have the clipping of the picture in the newspaper somewhere), including seeing inside a cargo plane, and a club sandwich at the Officer's Club. In the picture, I am grinning fit to bust. Guess it was not so bad to be the center of attention that one time, after all.

So there. A few of the things that shaped me. Nothing life threatening, unlike my poor sister who ate some sort of red berry that might have been yew and had to go to the ER to vomit it all out. Just wholesome. Makes you wonder where I get the sarcasm.

Probably from my German thighs.

I will not formally tag anyone but will, again, love to read anyone else's. Well, I lie. I will plead for Stacy to share some of her childhood antics, like the one involving the rocks and vehicles, and the arson one, and the lunch box one, and there was the time she and her poor sisters played missionary. She really needs to blog about those. She also needs not to feel she must limit herself to 5.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eeekkk, a trip down memory lane!!! I am here to vouch for the truth of all 5 of these. (I now know how long my brother has been married. He turned 60 yesterday [8/13].) I will lie in fear of what the next 5 memories will detail. (Re: Cargo planes: Now you know what I did for a living.)

The Ole RFer.

10:22 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

ahhhh! Diana, you crack me up. Yes, I probably should blog about at least the infamous Holly Hobby lunch pail "incident" shall we say? I hadn't even thought how evil I was in years for the "missionary" game I made my sisters play. I think it was more a strategy to see if they would eat disgusting things. I LOVE your stories. Especially about the energy conservation contest. We did one at our school too- must have been manditory in the '70s. I colored a picture of President Carter in a big sweater-- though I didn't win such a cool prize!

7:30 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Those are all great!!!!! For the record, I never accidentally drank spiked punch.

I love the detail--this won't surprise you--about clowns with cream pies possibly lurking somewhere on that 440 track.

Chanute Air Force Base! I've been there--sort of. I once took the slow bus from Champaign to Chicago. It stopped at Chanute and a guy in uniform* got on and sat next to me. After he got tired of chatting me up, he fell asleep and his head lolled over onto my shoulder. It made me intensely uncomfortable, but I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing--all the way up to Chicago. Agony.

I think the base closed, like, the year after that incident. Coincidence?

*Definitely not the Old RFer (unless he was 20 years old in 1979).

8:06 PM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

How children survive their childhood is a mystery to me. (A mistery. Hell, meestery? This isn't going well this morning. Take your pick.) And their adolescence survival is an even greater one. (Shall we start a meme? Name the 5 most dangerous things you did, knowing you shouldn't have. Mr. Father, look away quickly!)

I can't remember a single wedding! How bizarre. Maybe there really weren't any. (Housekeeper just woke me up from a most deep REM cycle, I slept all of 5 h, GACK! Bear w me)And I never got drunk, how Anne of Green Gables of you, how boring of me. But then I was sophisticated at an early age, all I did was stick fruit remnants up my nose (Why does the baby's nose stink so??) and surprise the household w my sneezes, which I forgot to add to my 100-0dd list but are truly memorable. My then 5 yo cousin did the Hair Elimination Raid for my parent's wedding. She looks like a Troubled Gypsy Child on all photographs.

You love storms? Freak. #4 is v zen, well done. Must forage for coke now. Help. (Oh and it's mystery. Of course.)

4:31 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

I wanna hear the next five memories! More! More! Based on The Ole RFer's comments, there must be some good stories here. Not that these weren't good, I didn't mean to imply anything. These were good. They were so good I want more! More! (Hey, I sound just like my kids. I want, I want! Yikes!)

10:59 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Diana, this was great. I especially loved the spiked punch story. Johnny's right, it is very Anne of Green Gables. I love storms as well and remember a few times when the drains would flood - was never allowed to play in them.

I did the cutting of the bangs thing as well. I wanted my haircut terribly and my mom set up an appointment but it was too far away (I think it was a whole week) and I got impatient. I wet my bangs, I used the comb to make sure that they were straight and cut just like I saw the stylists do. Only problem? Yeah, when hair dries, it kind of shrinks. I had bangs that were 1 inch long. It was horrible.

I'm with Teri. The more memories the better.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Everybody- Heh. You are all sweet. I really have very few stories. Poor memory? Blissfully dull childhood? Too much time reading? I really didn't even do anything that dangerous. I never even cut class as a high school student. What would be the point? My friends were all in THEIR classes. There was the trip to Mexico as a senior, but even that was pretty tame, as we were the tame AP Spanish class, all 7 of us. Our teacher was the wild one. SHE took us to the tequila factory and was gleeful when we ran into the 400 students from the boy's school who chatted us up en masse in the museum. We were just embarassed. Hm. Maybe I need to write about that.

Dad- No fears. No scary memories.

Stacy- You must blog about THEM ALL. Why do I remember your childhood better than mine? Because your stories are side-splittingly hilarious.

Rozanne- I have this eerie feeling that our lives have dove-tailed multiple times, we just don't know it yet. Good thing I don't believe in fate. The fact that you remembered that it was Chanute, not "some military base in mid-IL" has me frankly astonished.

Johnny- Dahling, no wedding memories at all? How horrible! I don't have many, but they are all memorable. So you were nasally fixated? Your poor parents. Yes. YOU blog about the dangerous stuff. I really can't think of a thing, aside from an incident riding in a car on my obligatory 21st birthday bar hop with a mildly drunk driver. (Note how I attempt to play it down by saying he was only "mildly" drunk. As if it makes a difference. Sheesh.)

Teri- Well, missy, IwantIwantIwant! to hear some of your tales. I wonder how similar they will be, seeing as we have this whole evil twin thing going.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Dana- Whoops! I learned the hair shrinking thing, too, as an adult, though. I still cut my own bangs, mostly; especially as I am growing some of them out, so they are not so heavy. High forehead and long face necesitates bangs of some sort, otherwise, just call me "horseface".

1:28 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

I'll write about my h.s. trip to Mexico if you write about yours! I even have pictures I might be willing to post. Like the one I took at the top of a pyramid at Chichen Itza (this one), after which I promptly had a serious panic attack and thought I'd have to spend the rest of my life up there. Then I saw the iguana a foot above me at the very tip-top of the pyramid staring down at me and I was better, 'cause that was really cool. Didn't have the presence of mind to snap a pic of the iguana, though.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

Jeez. I wish I had LESS stories about my childhood lol

8:11 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Teri- It's a deal~ but don't get your hopes up too high.

Babs- Somehow, I'm not a bit surprised. Is it terribly wrong for me to get such enjoyment out of reading about the trials of others? I mean, if the shit is going to happen to you anyway...

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

D, G has no aversion to books or to reading. As a child, she loved being read to as much as you did. When you were 8 or 9, she would have been 5 or 6 and still struggling to learn to read inspite of her yet to be diagnosed dyslexia. (No one thought to test her until 3rd grade. Based on her oral reading preformance, she had been thought to be reading way below grade level. However, her teacher gave her a reading comprehesion test that showed she must be reading at least at her grade level, thus more testing and the discovery that she was dyslexic.) Ever since she lived in NYC, she has regularly carried a paperback with her to read on the commute and other enforced waits. When she visited here a few days last month, she finished two books which she passed along to A. She shares your enjoyment of Stephen King, but prefers fantasy/SF to mystery. While her current main nonfiction interest is yoga; her gardening books are about growing plants in pots and hanging baskets on a city deck or patio, not i n raised beds. And instead of her work-related reading being med. journals, hers are fashion mags. JG

1:38 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

JG- Yes, Gail is an avid reader, now. I had been told, however, more than once, that she did not want to get into reading, like me, as she did not want to be obsessed with reading, when she was younger, say jr high school era, plus or minus. This is something she had said to someone else, neither you nor me. I envy her professional reading. Sounds much more interesting (and certainly more glamorous) than mine.

3:11 PM  

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