Nursery Birds. Mmmm, Birds.

That’s the first “media” I ever “consumed.” Literally.Nursery birds

Story has it my parents bought a mobile of brightly colored birds and hung it above my crib. You know, something to keep my baby-sized brain occupied.

I vaguely recall them. They had spongy bodies and little floppy wings (photo, at right).

Story also has it I tore the wings off my nursery birds. Probably gave ’em a gnaw or two.

And so, an editor is born.

It was in this little house on East 64th Street, in Broad Ripple, just north of downtown Indianapolis, where we lived until 1966, when Pop landed a plum gig with the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and we packed up and moved East.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

All those things: A baby book, a lock of hair, baby cards with elephants and clowns. Story has it gypsies down the street took care of me while Mom and Dad worked. Is this true? Who were they? If I have a memory of this, all I’ve got is a dark room reeking of garlic.

Story has it I wore a new pair of cowboy boots to my first day of school. Got no farther than the bus stop, where I was mercilessly teased for wearing them. Ran home in tears and tore them off my feet.

Cowboy boots. Style statement.

Rejection. Tears.

What is that supposed to mean? Toy birds, things you put in a newborn’s nursery. Place all the meanings of my early life in an Indiana barrel full of monkeys, shake it up, and here’s what spills out:

Backyard incinerators. A coffee can buried in a flowerbed. Mom ironing, muttering to herself as she absently watches As the World Turns. TV commercials for Duncan Hines. Potato chip delivery guy (yup, they used to deliver potato chips in a big metal can, just in case you had a potato chip emergency). The White River. Our Cocker Spaniel, Taffy. The woeful coo of a mourning dove. A sewer well into which some boy fell and died alone. A slant of light through the tall trees of Broad Ripple Park. A poster displaying the History of Flight, from Kitty Hawk to second-generation jet fighters to the Mercury rocket, taped to my bedroom closet door.

Unreliable memories, if you ask me.

It’s like someone once told me a story and when they came to the end they said, “That was your life. That’s what you did.”

Really? No kidding. Can I see it again?

But little was kept, outside of some black and white photos or color slides. Even the earliest stuff I still have is insufficient.

This is the house on 64th Street. This is that neighborhood. These are the kids. My Batman costume at Hallowe’en, the mask of which came off and I cried looking for it. There were all those other kids, and Mom was there, and a DJ from the local radio station and the kids were screaming and I couldn’t find my mask, where was my mask?! Mom, where did the mask go?

Yeah, I know. Hugely dramatic, but that’s what you get when you’re five years old.

Here’s another good one from that time: I decided I’d had enough and was gonna strike out on my own. Dad even helped me pack. Mom gave me a sandwich and they saw me out the door. “Well,” Dad said, “good luck. Hope you write to us when you get to where you’re goin’…”

I burst into tears and begged to be taken back.

Story has it.

I mean, where am I losing you in this stuff? Where have I lost myself?

Who the hell was this kid? Why am I writing this?

Did this really happen?

I’m completely in the dark.

~ by completelyinthedark on October 6, 2010.

5 Responses to “Nursery Birds. Mmmm, Birds.”

  1. This was nice. Bittersweet, of course. But a telling string of images and impressions. Thanks for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. thanks man. getting back to blogging by sorting thru recent losses.


  3. Chips were delivered! A magical time! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Nearly four years ago, I published this second post. All-new stories again next Friday morning. Happy late summer, friends!


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