Sleeplessness has become a way of life.
After I have done due diligence to return to slumber, I get out of bed and move to the living room. I might make a stop by the toilet as I am beginning to suspect my prostate has grown. I am awakened more and more by the sensation of a full bladder. I
put off having it checked as my doctor has thick fingers. I noticed this as we
shook hands one Sunday at Wal-Mart. Thick fingers and big hands; the exam could
In the living room, I often sit in
the dark. I do a lot of reminiscing with myself there. On one such night, while sitting in the dark on the couch, lost in deep thought, I was reminded of a Christmas
morning when I was about seven years old. As it happens with me way too often,
on this particular Christmas, I had a mental break with reality.
I woke early that Christmas morning and sneaked my way to the living room, alone. We were by no means a wealthy family. At
this time in my life, we lived in a 10-by-55-foot trailer. But, as with any family
with great parents, the issue of money was never an issue. We simply were loved
and taught to be proud of who we were, so… we were.
On Christmas Eve, my two brothers and I slept in the same room. Brad was eight and Johnny was three. We would normally stay up as late as we could on that night. From the open bedroom door we could see the random flashes of illumination dancing
shadows in the hallway, lights that were strung on a too-large-for-the-trailer cedar tree.
Always a free, misshaped, cedar tree cut from the timber of some unsuspecting landowner. The overpowering scent would fill the house, and although very reminiscent of cat piss, it eventually became
the odor I most associated with the holiday.
Though we all had our own beds, we would all crawl into just one and whisper about
Santa and giggle. Then we would play puppies.
It is almost embarrassing to describe the activity to others as it just will appear queer; and you can take that however
you wish. We would get under the covers and crawl around making… well,
puppy sounds. We would mimic puppy actions too: rolling across each other, snuggling
and sniffing butts. I am being honest when I tell you it truly was a grand memory
and maybe, just maybe, the world has become so tainted with cruel words and fear of what others might think that playing puppies
just seems stupid now.
But, on this particular night, post-puppy play, while my brothers slumbered, I
ventured to the couch and sat alone just opposite the tree. There is nothing
more magical than sitting in complete silence, staring at the beautiful blinking lights from a Christmas tree playing umbrella
to a shag carpet full of presents. At that point in my life, I was an all-out
believer in Santa. So, I reasoned I had just missed him, a definite magic multiplier. I could still smell his aftershave, Brut,
just like my dad’s. Here is where my mental break occurred.
There was a slight chill as a winter draft wandered about the trailer, but snug
in my Hong Kong Phooey pajamas, I was protected enough as not to be distracted. Without
really thinking, a habit I struggle with, I rose from the couch and went to the gifts.
I moved them about quietly as not to wake anyone. I finally came to a present with my name. There had been little effort to hide its shape, and I could tell it was the game of Trouble. You push a clear plastic half dome with dice in the center,
and it recoils, thus rolling the dice…of course with that satisfying ‘POP’.
Within a few minutes, I had managed my way through the instructions and for the most part had figured out how to play. I set it up for two players and began to ‘POP’ and move my cone-shaped
pieces around the board. I was completely lost in my enjoyment, lost, until my
mom’s voice, “Brian! What do you think you are doing?!” Here is where reality and memory differ. Years
later, when my mother told the story, she claimed it was not Christmas Eve, but rather a week before Christmas and the gift
was from my grandma… not Santa. To this day I dispute this as there is
no way I would do something like that… even at seven. However, I can leave
a small bit of room she might be correct.
I have learned many memories from childhood can blend and blur into an inconceivable,
fuzzy timeline. For example, as a child I had an issue. I can’t blame it on a faulty prostate as I would now,
since I was maybe three or four at the time, but I never seemed to be able to get all the dribbles out before tucking my peter
away, and as a result, the fronts of my pants were always a bit damp. I also
had a habit of touching my privates… maybe due to the discomfort of the wetness.
Nonetheless, by the end of a day of playing outside, whatever I happened to be wearing below the waist was coated with
pee-mud. It was a constant embarrassment for Mom.
I know she thought the neighbors would think she was a bad mother for letting her child run around the neighborhood
looking like that. On more than one occasion, I remember being scolded for playing
with myself and for being seen out and about looking the way I did. The thing
is, I don’t ever remember it ever really bothering me.
The whole reason I bring this up is that to me, this memory also takes place in
the trailer park. But, at three, we didn’t live in a trailer park….so,
either I was seven when this occurred, something I can’t fathom, or my mom just might be right about Trouble.
One Christmas memory I am clear on, and could years later verify via eight millimeter
film, was the tit-shot. I am not sure when we acquired the camera, but once in
my parent’s possession, most events of importance, and many which were not, were caught on film. I remember watching film of the time when I was put into judo. I
don’t ever really remember asking to be in judo. It must have just seemed
natural. Living in a trailer park... it made one think of the beautiful Orient and of course, martial arts. Besides being able to watch myself compete via film, my only real memory of this activity was my first
encounter with breast feeding. Now, before going further, I need to point out
this is not the afore-mentioned tit-shot referenced… but I will get around to that.
The feeding incident involved a teammate named Jose. Now this is a memory I feel confident about until I bring to light he was black. Not that a black child from the south cannot have Hispanic heritage… but Jose didn’t. Jose was around my age, which, of course, is a topic of some dispute during my time
in the trailer. But, no matter my age, it doesn’t change the discomfort
I felt when I watched Jose walk from the mat after a match, directly to his mother; a very large woman with each boob the
size of a laundry bag a college kid might drag home on the weekend.
Upon seeing her son approach and apparently sensing his parchment from his bout,
she unleashed one of the monstrosities from beneath her blouse and allowed him to quench his thirst. I don’t have to go into much detail as I feel the image has been painted…I could see Bob Ross
on PBS bringing the image to life with a, “And over here we will put a happy little breast.” Except it wasn’t little, Bob! It was massive; an abstract work of art permanently hanging askew in
the gallery of my brain. Watching a bipedal mammal moving under its own power
to suckle from a teat is just haunting.
My mom tried to explain to me how natural the whole ordeal was, but her twisted
face gave away the lie and we let it pass with a hidden understanding that this is something I should never, ever attempt…
even if I were dying of thirst.