Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What a Weirdo

Five weird things I did when I was a kid:

1) I tried to flush my sister down the toilet. My sister is three years older than I am and I was about 2 at the time. I can neither confirm nor deny the intent, since I was in the blissful pre-memory stage of life, toddling around on chubby thighs like crispy brown pupa. I only know what my mother says she walked in on after hearing my sister screaming bloody murder in the bathroom: a pint sized me holding my sister down on the toilet by the shoulder while trying to simultaneously reach for the flusher by standing on my tip toes. This tale has become the stuff of family legend.

2) I was notorious for going to the doctor who not only a) had a coca cola machine in the lobby that dispensed glass bottles of his patients but b) also gave out lollipops to the kids after their exam, and asking for an "extra" lollipop to "give to my sister". I would then proceed to shove both lollipops in my chubby face before reaching the lobby again. This falls into a blurry category which could be "weird stuff I did when I was a kid" OR "mean stuff I did when I was a kid." You make the call about which is which.

3) I begged my parents to let me see "Dragnet: the Movie" in the theater by myself. What on earth I could possibly have seen or read or heard about this film that made me think it was in any way interesting is utterly beyond me. I haven't seen the film since that one time but I'm reasonably certain it involved two middle aged white men police officers trying to solve a crime involving a Satanic cult-like group kidnapping some rich lady. Or maybe it was jewels. I can't say for certain. I only have a vivid memory of escaping the Louisiana heat by sitting in the theater alone and eating my favorite snack on the face of the earth: movie popcorn that I bought myself. There have been few instances since that afternoon that mean utter bliss for me. Just always know that I'd rather be alone at the movies, eating popcorn with abandon. Or reading a book. Anyway, I guess I must have liked the stupid movie or maybe it was just that I got to go alone for the first time.

4) I was SUPER duper maxi extreme ultra into Handel. Yes, this Handel:

I started to learn the flute around the age of 11 and it came quite easily for me so I threw myself into it completely. The highlights of my time spent in an otherwise very lonely and ostracizing school in the deep south as a visibly obvious minority, overweight girl were all spent learning how to play classical pieces for the flute. As a result, and as is my nature, I read everything I could find and listened to everything at my disposal (remember how I'm old? That wasn't much) about my favorite composers, Mozart and Handel and in particular The Messiah and Music for the Royal Fireworks and Water Music which was. my. jam. I still, to this very day, have the cassette recording that I wore out when I was 12 because, that's totally normal. To be crushing really hard on a bulbous, old white guy who had been dead for hundreds of years. Since then, I've studied music as an undergrad in college and my tastes leaned more toward the Romantics and replaced my affection for Handel and Mozart with Brahms and Rachmaninoff. Yet I cannot hear that bombastic, rococo symphony of sound without welling up, not so much for the music, but rather for that awkward little girl in the coke bottle glasses alone in her room.

5) I had an obsession with Consumer Reports. In the 80s, the consumer advice magazine Consumer Reports (it still exists today and people still swear by it today, including me...I have bought my cars and assorted other big ticket items based on its recommendations) had a TV show that aired on HBO. My memory on the format is fuzzy since I was around 7 or 8 when I was really into it but I'm pretty sure the episodes were around 30 min each and focused on a theme like, washer and dryers or televisions or cars. What I know for certain is that this program used dramatizations to demonstrate....I have no recollection. I just know that something utterly fascinated me about these dramatizations. I remember there was one during the episode which must have been about hair dryers, and they were cautioning against using hair dryers near water. (Older people: was this some kind of epidemic in the 80s? People getting electrocuted by their hair dryers??) And the dramatization showed only the feet of a man getting out of his way too full bathtub, not even drying himself and immediately beginning to blow dry his hair while standing in a puddle of his own body's bathwater drops. The bathroom, or my memory of it, was in almost complete darkness. The drama ended with a big pop and electric flashes and the man's feet collapsing to the floor. I remember the terror with which I then eyed my mother's hair dryer and told her that "Consumer Reports says you shouldn't dry your hair if you are too wet." Apparently my family was used to this obsession because I would advise them on all the products I learned about on Consumer Reports. I mean that's totally normal, right? For an elementary school child to be obsessed with consumer products and their rating systems?

Oh I found a segment from one of the episodes. Not the one I described above but this is the kind of shit I couldn't miss when it was on.

I told you I was weird.

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