Posts Tagged 'childhood'

Questions: The Home Edition …

Since I’m home for the Thanksgiving weekend, I figured I’d compose a bunch of questions relating to childhood and hometowns. Many of these assume you have parents who are still alive and a ‘normal’ upbringing (you know, nuclear family and all), so please accept my apologies if this isn’t the case and feel free to adjust the question if at all possible (by going back in time or thinking about your own children perhaps) to fit your own situation.

1) Last week, I used nothing but my hypnotic good looks and the enchanting sound of my typing to send you back to your teenage years and have you recall some notable pop culture experiences from that time in your life. Now I want to take you back further, to your earlier childhood, when you were still cute and innocent, your mind a relatively blank slate, with only thousands of media impressions filling it instead of the pop culture junkyard it has now become. For the following categories, please choose the one example from your preteen years that first jumps out (my answers in parentheses).

TV show (Family Ties/Electric Company)

Movie: (ET)

Album: (Thriller by The Gloved One)

Toy: (Intellivision Hockey)

Ad/Commercial: Ancient Chinese Secret (I forget what it was for – a detergent??)

Book: (Superfudge)

2.Who was the first crush that you remember? When was it? Was it requited? (Mine: Susan Appel, kindergarten, No, but she was my first French kiss in a 6th (7th?) grade game of spin the bottle)

3. I love when I go back home. I have no responsibilities, and I immediately regress. How much younger do you feel when you visit the parents, and which household chore do you most enjoy not doing while home? (10 years, laundry)

4. My parents still live in the same house from my childhood, and I hope they never leave. Do your parents still live in your childhood home. If so, isn’t it the best? If not, does it still feel like ‘home’ when you visit?

5. Where did you grow up and what percentage of your childhood/high school friends still live in your hometown? (Mine: St. Louis, I’d say about 50%)

6. Assuming you have since moved on from where you spent the majority of your childhood, do you still root for those ‘hometown’ sports teams or have you adopted new ones from the place you now live (or some other place you’ve lived)?

7. Where did you most often hang out as a teenager (Mine: Denny’s)?

8. Do you have any good high school dance stories (I have a couple, which I’ll give when I have more time)?

9. Ethical question: Last night, the fam went to a little play at a shopping center, and ended up eating out afterward at a restaurant that advertised in the program a ‘15% off your bill’ special if you show your ticket stub. The server only briefly looked at and did not take the stubs before giving us the discount. Is it unethical to give those stubs to a family waiting in the restaurant lobby? What about if we gave to a family walking outside which we knew for a fact would not have gone to that restaurant if we hadn’t given them the ticket stubs? Is it unethical for either family to use the stubs?

10. Can you ever really, truly go home again?

Fireflies and Mondays …

Ah, Mondays. Always such an unpleasant beast, a day only meant for enduring and muddling through in the best of circumstances, but sometimes gearing up for the workweek feels particularly difficult. I’ve just finished a relaxing weekend and I’m struggling to find my motivation mojo right now.

My weekend was enjoyably capped yesterday by my adorable three-year-old cousin’s birthday party, followed by a few fun sets of tennis with my brother, all done under perfect midsummer weather and in a Riverdale park that brought back memories of my Midwestern suburban upbringing.

It was the fireflies, really. Nothing signifies carefree childhood nights in the middle of a St. Louis summer like the presence of those luminescent creatures, and they were out in full force yesterday. I’m not a religious person – something I’m sure I’ll expound on at some point as the topic often goes hand and hand with questions of mortality – but there is something majestic, magical even, about a little nothing beetle that has evolved to exhibit such an impressive power. They don’t bite or sting or even buzz loudly; in my (undoubtedly human-centric) view, it’s as if they exist for no other reason than to provide a beautiful background and a bit of mood lighting for romantic late summer evening walks.

Maybe I just still have high oil prices on my mind, but watching the fireflies also made me wonder why we haven’t somehow harnessed that process for our own use. Did a little research and it turns out we do actually use the firefly’s chemical enzymes to search for life on other planets, to detect bacteria and even cancer cells in blood and urine (and to create the common glow stick, so it’s nice to see the firefly is also enhancing the drug-fueled trip of your average clubgoer).

I found myself reading a lot about the firefly (family name, Lampyridae) and the science behind the luminescence. As usual, science once again proved its limitations as an adequate substitute for good old religious mysticism (not to mention, childhood wonder). Frankly, some of the magic disappears when you find out fireflies use their light mainly for catching chicks and getting some action, and that the females of certain firefly species mimic the lighting pattern of other species in order to lure an unsuspecting male and then eat it.

Kinda sounds like some of my Mondays.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em …

OK, I’m determined to try out this ‘very short’ blog post thing, so I want to wish everyone (which according to my blog stats means basically no one except for my girlfriend … hi babyyy!!) a Happy Fourth!

Holidays almost always make me nostalgic, and the Fourth of July is no exception. Growing up in a St. Louis suburb, my parents always took me and my brother to some local firework show, usually along with another neighborhood family or two. The displays must have paled in comparison to the technical extravaganza I see now every year in NYC, but man, did they seem like the shiz-nit at the time. I felt like I was so close to the action, where you could smell the smoke and the explosions reverberated in your tummy. i would ooh and aah, and squeal and shiver, and snuggle close to my mom, the fireworks provoking equal measures of fear, awe, delight.

But perhaps the thing I most associate with the Fourth of July growing up were these tiny candy cigarettes that for some reason my parents always had for me on that day and not at any other time. Small tasty little chalk-white sticks with a little red spot on their tips, packaged in some miniature branded cigarette pack, they served as the perfect marketing for an industry looking to entice the next generation of addicts.  My parents never smoked, hated smoking, and still apparently had no problems giving me these candy cigarettes and watching me pretend to smoke before eating them. Given how far American society has turned against smoking, it’s almost impossible now to even imagine those things ever existing in my lifetime. They’re like the anachronistic equivalent of that one 70s game show in which a man’s wife and his secretary compete to see which one knows him best.

Imagine my surprise when I googled candy cigarettes and found out the damn things still existed, and are even sold in some U.S. stores. The nostalgic part of me is kind of glad to hear it and even tempted to get some; the rest of me marvels at the hypocrisy.

Anyway, Happy Fourth!

Regrets? Yeah, I got a few …

i remember when I was a teenager reading and quite enjoying ‘Life’s Little Instruction Book’, a short guide full of pithy sayings and reminders on the best way to live a meaningful and happy life.

One of the rules that stuck with me was ‘Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets.’ On the surface, it’s hard to argue with that one, but the more I age, the more I realize how preposterous the idea is. Regrets are a healthy part of the examined life, and the only real goal one should have is to decrease the number of regrets you accumulate as you get older (and hopefully wiser).

I have a ton of regrets, most of which stem from childhood. I wish I would have learned how to skate and play ice hockey. I wish I would have learned more than one foreign language. I wish I would have lost my virginity at an earlier age (not sure that was as much of a choice as I’d like to think it was, though).

Perhaps my biggest regret is not keeping a diary. I always equated diary-keeping with, well, being a chick. But the fact of the matter is, I think memories are some of the most precious things in the world, and reading about a specific past event can provide the quickest path to recall. I normally have trouble remembering what I had for dinner yesterday, but when I reread ancient clips from my journalism days, sights and sounds from the past come flooding back to me.

I believe all the things we’ve ever done are stored up there somewhere in our brain; we just need powerful enough triggers to extract them. Old pictures can help (and I do love me some old pictures), but they don’t do the trick like words can.

I could start keeping a diary now, and I suppose this blog will act as that on some noteworthy occasions, but it’s my childhood and young adult days – with all of the associated experiences and constant changes which made me who I am today – that I’d most like to remember in more detail.

Alas, sans diary, I’ll have to be OK with most of my childhood being just a pleasant blur that grows a bit fuzzier by the year. On the positive side, I’m sure total recall would dredge up some memories I’d prefer to keep repressed. After all, I’ve already got enough regrets.


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