Monday, January 28, 2013

Things You Don't Really Need to Know

If you were to sit me down and ask me to describe myself utterly and completely, I would tell you the following story:

When I was a kid, like school age; maybe first or second grade, I got sick. It was the absolute dead of an Illinois winter; there was ice and snow on the ground, though grass, as I recall, was visible in some spots so it wasn't a lot of snow.

By "I got sick", I mean that I woke up with tummy troubles. The kind where if I went to school I'd be asking to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes all day long, that sort of thing. So I stayed home from school, and my mother stayed home from work.

At some point, Mom was doing something. I couldn't tell you what, because what's important was that, lying on the couch, I realized I wanted to go play outside, to go play pretend.

I got up, put on my hat, my coat, and even a pair of mittens (which, my refusal to wear anything on my hands - no matter the chill - is somewhat of a legend in and of itself), I went outside, and I started to play. If I am recalling this correctly (although I may be thinking of another time something like this happened), I was "ice fishing"; by which I mean I was jabbing a stick into an iced-over puddle to make the water flow up, and catching 'fish' (dead leaves) on my stick, whereupon I hung them out to "smoke" on another stick I had placed carefully in the hollow of our climbing tree for just that purpose.

I was really good at imaginary fishing, guys. I was a champion. You should have seen all the fish I caught.

Mom went looking for me when she couldn't find me in the house. When she came outside, I was over by the streetlamp next to our driveway, rolling up a ball of snow for God only knows what reason. Maybe I was going to have a snowball fight by myself. I wouldn't put it past me.

She came over, grabbed me, and started pulling me back in the house, scolding me all the while. "You shouldn't be outside! You're sick!" All those motherly words that come from a place of worry and frustration over their daydreaming, wandering children.

I tried to free myself, and when that didn't work, I explained to her with all the seriousness and superior child knowledge in the world, that it was okay, Mom.

I was just sick to my stomach.

It's not like I had a cold or something.

Because it's totally okay to play outside when sick, even when it is 15 degrees outside, as long as you don't have a cold.

 Of course, I was taken inside regardless, all full of righteous anger and indignant, wounded pride. The next hour or so was spent fuming until I forgot about it entirely and started doing something else. Drawing tattoos on my sister's old Barbies or playing with my Grand Champions or Breyer horses or something.

Now, if you give that story some thought, I believe it will tell you everything you will ever need to know about who I am.

Oh, wait. Combine it with this one:

Somewhere in my parents' yard, behind a bush, is buried the leg of a small plastic foal I played with as a child. His leg broke during a fight between him and another foal wielded by my childhood best friend Rikki. We made a solemn vow to bury his leg and come back for it later. We carefully buried it and marked the place with a little standing-up stick.

I have never seen it since.

I was maybe eight or nine when this happened, and I still remember what spot we buried it in, but I can't remember the names of people I've met ten times and had long conversations with.

That's everything you need to know to understand me.

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