Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Stored away in the bowels of my brain I’ve got all these files of unwritten blog topics I’ve earmarked for a rainy day. Tonight is kind of a rainy night, and I haven’t departed on my BIG voyage, so I don’t have any stories of the Great Oceans Blue quite yet. Instead, let me delve into my internal card catalog instead.

I know you guys love the stories of my childhood, and I think some of you might appreciate hearing about my early journeys, before I even knew how to spell Shanghai, let alone realize I’d be traveling there. Italy was a little bit more familiar, because my Grandma Valentino came from there and I knew that all of our Thanksgivings were extra delicious, and probably a little different from my friends’ Thanksgivings, because we ate Italian food- things like squid and wedding soup, in addition to our turkey and stuffing. I didn’t know much about Hong Kong, but it reminded me a lot of an Atari game I liked to play…the game with a big monkey who rolled barrels to trip up opposing players. And last, I was the little girl who thought Vietnam was just a strange place where my Daddy liked to visit, wearing camouflage green clothing, and wander through swampy rice fields, all of which was depicted when he would show us his US Army slide shows in the darkened family room circa 1981. Speaking of 1981, when I was about five, my Grandma and Grandad used to take us to this place in Barberton, Ohio called Lake Anna. There were ducks and swans at Lake Anna so we used to take stale bread for them to eat. Stale bread wasn’t good enough for people to eat, but the ducks never seemed to mind it too much! We would skip through the park, actually half running and half skipping and stand as close to the water as possible without falling in and reach over so close to the ducks that they would practically be eating out of our hands.

Scott and I would sit in the back seat, patiently waiting to get to the lake. Scott was a kid who could always eat. He was never fat or pudgy, he just liked to eat. We usually got Frozen Custard (this awesomely creamy, dreamy, smooth ambrosia, not to be confused with frozen yogurt or ice cream or anything of that sort), or sometimes we had Barberton Chicken. I never knew why fried chicken was so famous there….I just knew I lived for fried chicken and this stuff made my mouth water….it was served with these potatoes that were much like French fries and this stuff called “hot sauce” which was a ricey tomatoey type of goop that you slopped on over top of your potatoes and I’m not sure what exactly was in it, all I know is that it tasted pretty darn good.

So with our tummies full of greasy Barberton chicken and creamy custard, we were ready to share our stale bread with the ducks. I learned all about sharing when I was a young child and I was always willing to lend my friends a Barbie doll or a grape popsicle or a ride on the handlebars of my bike. No problem! I loved sharing my things and realized that giving to others brought me great joy as well. If one person can enjoy something, even better if two people can enjoy it!

Somewhere I think Scott missed this lesson. I remember one time sitting in the backseat, swinging my feet (which didn’t quite reach the ground) back and forth and patiently waiting to get to Lake Anna to feed the ducks, I noticed this chewing noise. I looked over and there was Scott eating every last piece of the stale bread. His cheeks full of bread, he grinned a missing-my-two-front-teeth-and-just-got-a-dollar-from-the-tooth-ferry smile. “Sssshhhh Sissy. Don’t tell.”

My eyes were big round blue saucers. I couldn’t believe Scotty would eat all of the food we brought for the ducks. Wouldn’t they be hungry? I was a pretty good kid (although some may beg to differ) and I did know we were supposed to share our bread that was earmarked (there’s that word again) for the ducks. Not for Scott who just ate three legs, one wing, and a thigh! (I’m talking about the Barberton fried chicken here, not the ducks we were about to feed.) But I kept my mouth shut. I don’t know what good I thought this was going to do, since pretty soon Grandma and Grandad would catch on and see that there was nothing left to feed the ducks.

Laurieeee????? Scottyyyyy? What are you two doing back there???

As usual, we’d both smile our shit-eat grins. “NOSSING!”

I think my grandparents got a kick out of our antics, but my parents didn’t.

Even though I loved to share, I hated cute little babies, because I was envious and had to be the center of attention. My mom would hear me asking Scott in the backseat of the car “Now Scott….when we see a baby what are we going to do?”

His answer was always the same: “PINCH THEM!!!” (I trained him to answer that way.)

So my mom loooooooves to share the stories of how I would convince Scott to come with me and pinch babies. One time in McDonalds we saw a baby and I ran up and pinched it. Scott ran up behind and pinched it too. The mother of the baby was FURIOUS, as was my mother after she realized what we’d done. She took my arm and yanked me out of there and my grandma took Scott’s arm and yanked him out of there.

For some reason my friends think this story is hilarious.. Poor Scott. When we were little, I wore the pants. I was envious of Scott too, because he was the baby of the family, so it was easier just to boss him around and be at my beckon call. I used to do mean things like shove him down the basement stairs and I had him so well trained that he would stick up for me. Bloody and bruised, he would crawl back upstairs, and my mom would ask “What the hell did Laurie DO to you!?!??” And through his tears and blood he would plead “Mommy, don’t be so hard on her.”

Poor little guy. This brings a tear to my eye now. Melts my little jealous, baby-hating heart! I *was* kind of mean! I’m glad I learned that there’s more to being a good kid than just sharing grape popsicles. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been so bossy with Scott. But then one day he got bigger than me and stood his ground, so I guess it wasn’t allllllll that bad for him.

I truly had a wonderful childhood and with the exception of a few quirks and mean-spirited pinching episodes, I was a pretty good kid I think. Mom, if you’re reading this, please leave a comment so all of my readers believe me!!

I’m nostalgic now, after writing this post. Dad, if you’re reading, can you please email me some of your army pictures from Vietnam? Scott, if you’re reading this, can we play Donkey Kong on the Atari next time I’m in Ohio? Grandma, if you’re reading this, can we get frozen custard?

Okay, all of this stuff sounds reallllllly good. I loved my childhood and the thought of re-living some of these memories is making me very happy.

If it were 27 years ago, I’d be skipping! Hell, might as well skip right now…..


Sophie said...

Sounds like you had a very NORMAL childhood.. full of fun, family and good food!!

Luv the Blog...


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