I don’t have many memories before, roughly, first grade or about five or six years old. More accurately, I do have a few, but they are definitely very episodic and disconnected. I don’t know if this is a characteristic of a developing long term memory or perhaps I lacked a very interesting life to connect those first five years.
With that in mind, I thought I’d jot down a few of my early memories. You know, before I forget them altogether. Because I’m old. And probably losing my marbles…
This first one is a mix of my own memory and probably filled in a bit by my mother re-telling it when I was older. When I was still taking naps, so call it between two and three, I had a ride-on horse that had four wheels. I would ride this around on the sidewalk in front of our house. I had a friend on the other side of the block, but I wasn’t allowed to go there on my own.
One day, I knew that I was going to be made to take a nap and I didn’t want to so, I hatched a plan. When I got called in for lunch, I planted my horse below the window to my room. I went inside, had lunch and went down for a nap. But I was having none of that and effected my escape! I climbed out the window on to my horse, got it on the sidewalk and rode it around the block. So far as I can recall, there was no world that was off my block and to leave the block was unimaginable, but to my three year old brain, the other side of the block on my own was a bit of the wild west.
I made my way around the block and hooked up with my friend and stayed there for about an hour before my mother discovered my empty room, probably saw the empty window and freaked out. This would be the late 60’s, so I don’t know whether abduction occurred to her, but regardless, shortly after discovering me gone, perhaps connecting my missing horse, she showed up and found me at my friend’s house. Pretty sure I got a spanking for that.
Another time, I was probably four or five, I was at a friend’s house and running around in their place. For some reason I made a break for the outside, looked quickly and decided the back slider was open and ran full tilt in to the slider. Got a nice lump and a bloody nose for that one. But, at least I didn’t break the glass…
If I start to string enough of these together, it starts to look like I’m a bit lucky to be alive. But, that’s just life.
Around that same time, in the summertime, after lunch one day I was climbing on the outside chimney of our house. Just climbing on the bricks. My shirt was off because, hey, it was summertime.
As backstory, it’s worth nothing that I was born with a Hemangioma. Two actually. One on my head and one on my chest below one nipple. Interestingly (and commonly) they are absorbed back in to the body as we grow. Mine disappeared somewhere between puberty and adulthood. I kind of think I miss the one on my chest because it was something that I thought made me interesting or at least distinguished me from the crowds. Hemangioma’s are simply blood vessels that didn’t stay under the skin as intended and tend to present as a bright red blotch, maybe with a bit of texture. Mine was maybe the size of my thumbprint.
On this particular day, my mom saw me climbing the chimney and called me off there and called me to her. We were outside.
As I approached, she noted that I had something that appeared to be leaking from my hemangioma on the chest. Instead of the bright red blotch, there was an oozy, thick brown material. My mom spotted this and kind of gasped when she saw it and said “What’s that?!” I’d been told that I needed to be a bit careful with my hemangioma because occasionally they would bleed because the skin over them was often thinner.
I looked down and expertly scooped it off with my thumb. I looked up at her as I stuck my thumb in my mouth and said brightly, “Peanut Butter”! She looked like she was going to faint. It was tasty.
I was never much of a fighter. Never was, never will be and that’s okay. I tried to pick a fight in third grade with Bobby Lane but he didn’t cooperate so I ended up looking pretty stupid. We got in a name calling contest and because I had been taught to not use bad words and that still stuck with me at that age, I was left with “Poopy Head” and he had a far more effective arsenal than I did. On top of that, he refused to let me hit him as he kept just backing away and dodging, leaving me looking pretty dumb. I don’t even recall why I was attempting this other than it had to something to do with peer pressure.
The only effective fight I’ve been in happened when I was about five and, I’m told, because I don’t recall this story, I used “The F-word”. That doesn’t sound like me, but what’re you gonna do. Maybe I was experimenting. So, I used the word around Troy and then he and I had some sort of falling out and he decided that his response was that he was going to tell on me for using the biggie of bad words. As my mom tells the story, she and Troy’s mom found me on top of Troy beating the tar out of him to keep him from going inside and tattling on me. So, that would appear to be the only fight that I won and I don’t recall a single bit of it…
Around this same time, and again Troy was involved, we had been to kindergarden that day and someone had told a joke and for whatever reason, it stuck with me. It’s an inane joke that involves little Bobbie being at school and needing to use the bathroom. They’re practicing the ABCs, but Bobbie has to go use the toilet. He raises his hand and the teach asks why and he says he needs to go to the bathroom. She says he can do it if he can recite his ABCs. As the joke goes, he launches in to the ABCs: “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO-pause-QRSTUVWXYZ”. The teach asks “Where’s the ‘P’?” Bobbie replies: “Running down my leg!”
Hi-larious! To a five year old. As I was telling this to Troy and he back to me, we decided that the only thing that would be funnier than the joke is, and I kid you not, this is what passed for critical thinking for me at five, was if I actually peed when I told the joke. So, I did! Turns out my babysitter was inside the house on the other side of an open window, so not only did I get caught, I ended up getting punished for executing the BEST JOKE EVER!