My dear mother.
She is the Queen of Trinkets and other forgotten (or buried) family lore. She periodically unearths and sifts through countless items of historical family significance. Some retired people travel, some go to breakfast at Denny’s every day, some snoop on their neighbors, and some just sit in bars and wither away. My mom, however, has devoted her golden years to reconstructing haphazard remnants of familypast into orderly, reclaimable pockets of organization so as to precipitate “re-visiting” for those so inclined. My mother has boxes of old photographs which my brother is painstakingly digitizing. Simultaneously, my father has shitloads of old 8mm and other extinct formats socked away which my brother is likewise digitizing.
Recently my mom uncovered a bunch of photographs of some of my early years. Shocking, dismaying, revolting, they cover the gamut of my not very idealized childhood. I was never a particularly cute child, regardless of how much my mother may argue, but I’m quite resigned to this as my youthful curse, and in fact, the curse of my life. Physical magnetism was never etched in my cards. Peace of mind is acceptance and the ability to cease fighting lost battles. Photos of the 1-9-year-old phase of life were piled gruesomely and I could only examine them fondly with a shudder. This is my past, I do not hate it, but I am rather horrified and amused at what I let myself devolve into. In fact, I chide my parents for letting me leave the house looking and dressed as I was, but this is not fair, but I am half-serious only. I am not one of those scumbags who would ever think to hold my parents accountable for anything unfavorable that has happened in my life. I am the master of my destiny, for better or for worse. If people are going to blame their parents for the bad, they should also be prepared to praise them for the good. Still, I enjoy grilling my parents as to how in the world they let me look like this. Once again, it is not fair for I grew up in the late 60s, early 70s. Shit was different, lots different back then.
That whole young period is a complete blur in my life. I think back to those days and it is literally a foggy blur. I remember little, and I remember less of the mode of life then, which is now quite visible to my mature eye. It was a horrible time from this 2013 perspective, but from a 1969 perspective, it probably wasn’t nearly so bad. 1969 was the year I began kindergarten at age 4, which was too young and I was not equipped to socialize. The educator types of 2013 would not have allowed this shit to happen! I was a baby. I may have been precocious in some ways, but not in the social manner. I didn’t deal. My mom has plenty of photos from that period, but there was one which floated by of me of my second birthday. It blended in with he rest of the personal refuse so I didn’t recall it specifically until one day a couple of months ago when I was at my parent’s house. My mom handed me a shipping box with a coffee mug inside. “I made this for you from an old photo,” she informed me proudly, jokingly. I lifted the mug out…yep, it was me. I remembered the photo. It was a birthday photo of me on my second birthday at an old apartment on Keenan Street in East Los Angeles. My parents bought a house at that time in order to escape the schools and the neighborhood, which even then were declining, and to give me a better life. But this photo, and this coffee mug, showed me laughing in a snippet of time carved from my birthday in 1967. It’s a really unflattering photo, I think. This is the mug. Brace yourself. As a frame of reference, the photo was overlaid around the circumference of the mug, so the effect is one of my panoramic shame. the little scene of myself at my birthday party, all smiles today, is wrapped entirely around the mug. You can’t escape me baby.
It’s rather charming. I think I was a weird-looking little munchkin.
Who couldn’t love him?
God what a life this turned into.
It’s fine, though. Do not be alarmed.
I have no regrets, although I do regret that weird tie I wore. Was I a happy kid, or was I good at posing? I wonder. I think I was a happy kid because I’m a rather happy adult. This shit does not change. Your temperament is fixed. I know some people whose personalities seem etched in dour permanence. They can never stretch a good day into day(s). They are fucking miserable and they make everyone miserable and ultimately, their only rewards are the shit that do not serve to make them happy. With these people, it’s a self-engulfing ring of bitter fire. They hate their life, and this hate creates a worse life, and they never bother to battle out of it. And worse, they work hard at all things that make them…unhappy.
Funny, this life.
Funny, this mug.
I took it to my new job as a “work mug’ since we all try to be relatively green in that blustery Hollywood way. It instantly caught the eye of my manager (she is a total goof after my own heart). She was astonished that I walk around with a mug of myself. Most people have mugs of their children. Not me. But she liked the mug. She asked me if my mom could make some more. I told her that if she gave me a picture, my mom could get it made. To which she replied, NO. She wanted this fucking mug. This mug, my childhood mug. This is the one she wanted.
And I thought…hey. Maybe I should try to market this mug without explanation and it might go real world viral. Maybe people will like the mug even though they have no idea who it is inasmuch as it is very Mad Men kitschy cool.
I’ll give my mom a cut, don’t worry, I’m not a greedy sonofabitch.
Oh, earlier I mentioned I was all smiles now…the story of my life.
All smiles tonight.