Sunday, October 31, 2010

Don’t Dress up as Judge Ito for Halloween

During the mid-90’s, right in the heat of the O.J. Simpson trial and one cool October night, I decided to dress as Judge Ito for Halloween. I was in seventh grade and while some may consider thirteen too old for trick-or-treating there was no denying my love for candy. I had my black wig, my mom’s old graduation gown, small glasses, a goatee and a giant pillow case.

My friend came over dressed as a baby and we intended to visit every house in my neighborhood. Really load up on the candy. We made it to every house and with good time! In fact, it was still early. Our pillowcases were already swollen with candy, bulging in all directions but I easily convinced her to travel across the street to another neighborhood to get more candy. We started in a small cul-de-sac that had about five houses curved in a row. When we rounded the corner of the last house a few high school boys, some wearing robes and masks, came running around the corner. My friend ran to the street while I stopped, like an idiot, and said, “Oh! You scared me!” I remember being confused right before they grabbed my arms. One boy tugged at my pillowcase, now just over half full, and I tugged back. I wasn’t worried at all about getting beat up by four boys…I didn’t want to lose my candy. Once they realized I wouldn’t let go two of the boys kicked my legs out from under me. I saw my friend standing in the street laughing at me while I fell down to the ground. They boys held me down for a few seconds while some got a running head start…with my candy.

“Thanks for helping!” I sarcastically yelled at my friend. My Ito goatee was half off my face and I was pissed. I dreaded going home. I shouldn’t have been so greedy. I’m sure three pounds of candy was more than enough. I caught my breath and we walked back to my house. When I walked in the front door my dad was standing in the hallway, on the phone with my grandpa. I tried to hold back tears but I just couldn’t. I swear steam came out of my dad’s ears when I told him what happened. Once he heard my candy was stolen he put the phone real close to his mouth and sternly said, “Dad, I have to call you back, some fucking assholes stole her candy……..I don’t know, but I’m going to get those fuckers.” Click.

My mom came running into the room by now.  “What happened?!” she asked with a worried face. Her eyes looked me up and down and doubled back to my hands. “Where’s my pillowcase?!” she yelled. She was more upset about her pillowcase being stolen than the safety of her daughter.  My dad left during this argument to go find his police search light. “I can’t believe you’re upset about a pillowcase,” he said to my mom as he returned. “Come on, we’re looking for them right now! You’re going to tell me what they looked like, we’re going to find them and get your candy back. Get in the car!” I was nervous. I tried pleading with him to just stay home, that I shouldn’t have gone into that neighborhood in the first place but I was still sitting shotgun, listening to my dad talk about “how those fuckers are gonna pay.” We drove around like sketch balls for a few minutes, driving no more than 10 mph and shining a giant spotlight on trick-or-treaters. I was humiliated and I never saw the boys that jumped me and took my candy again. My dad took me to the store that night and gave me twenty bucks. Maybe getting jumped while being dressed as Judge Ito on Halloween wasn’t so bad after all…

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Flash Memories of a Dead Bird

I have memories that often pop into my head at the most irrelevant of times. I’ll be watching a Julia Roberts movie and all of a sudden….BAM! I remember planning to attack a fellow classmate out in the hall because he allegedly cheated on a friend. She held his arms and I kicked him square in the nuts. Combat boots were cool and socially acceptable in sixth grade at the time. I haven’t spoken to either of them in well over ten years but the memory still lingers like poop on a finger. This happens a lot to me, not poop on the finger, the memories.

Another memory that consistently pops into my head is from when I was a little girl. My grandma lived close to a train station and many felons. We’d go for long walks on uneven sidewalks and for some reason there were always dead baby birds laying right there on the concrete in front of us. Any normal adult would tell a child not to touch dead animals but my grandma didn’t exactly live by the norms. I also wasn’t a normal kid. I would crouch down next to these dead little birds and wonder how they died and why no one saved them. Their eyes were usually half closed, their beaks open just enough for me to close one eye to peak into their mouths, their bald little heads made me smile and I was always mesmerized that they had more skin than feathers. In her most exaggerated and saddened tone, that always made me feel guilty, my grandma would explain how horrible it was for that mama bird to lose her babies…usually followed by some praying to a saint or Jesus. Then she’d tell me to place it under the tree and I would walk the lifeless bird off the sidewalk and to the tree it came from. The baby bird took up my entire five-year-old palms and I would slowly walk it over to the tree, resting it against the bark while my grandma held her hand out for mine to continue our walk. I’d always look up for the nest and close my eyes out of respect for mother bird’s loss. If I concentrate hard enough I can still remember how their tiny bones felt under their loose, wrinkly skin.

About a month ago, while walking with friends through a park I saw a bird, full grown though, just sitting on the ground. It was hard to tell if it was alive or dead so I crept closer and closer trying to get a better look. It was so strange. It looked alive, the way it was sitting there, but it was completely motionless. The first thing I thought to do was to pick it up and move it under a tree. I instantly started taking a mental inventory of the contents in my car, trying to figure what I could use to carry the still bird. After being told several times to leave the bird alone I decided it was probably best and I looked down at the bird. I was very sorry that I couldn’t help it, my five-year-old self would be extremely disappointed. I looked up at the trees, trying to figure out where it came from as I started backing away. I looked back a few times at the bird while we walked away and couldn’t help but be stunned. I still think about that bird and wonder what happened to it. I can’t help but wonder if it was a sign from my grandma.

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