Memories from when I was Real Little

November 12, 2004

The other night, I got to trying to think of what were the earliest things that I could remember. I came up with a good number of short scenes that were all before I moved from Baton Rouge during Kindergarten. I remember the house we lived in on Woodbine, and I remember washing the car with my old man. (Specifically, I remember him showing my how to get the whitewalls on the tires good and clean.)


I remember doing things with my friend Kip, who -- like all friends that age -- is forced into friendship by parents who hang out together. I remember us being interested but not really understanding the Olympics that were going on. So that must have been the 1976. I remember him telling me that a basketball game that was on TV was part of the Olympics, and me telling him that the Olympics couldn't possibly still be going on. Whether this was indeed Olympic basketball and I couldn't fathom a two-week sporting event, or whether this conversation happened during basketball season months after the Olympics I haven't a clue.

I remember a little bit about how the furniture in our old house was arranged. We had a dark brown chair with yellow and orange flowers. Ugly fabric.? Not really. You see, that pattern was just a really heavy duty plastic of some kind. That chair stayed with us for years, living on the porch of many houses, and being called "Flo's Chair," since it was the only piece of furniture that the dog was allowed on, and it's where she could often be found. Anyway, I remember climbing on Flo's chair (back when it was human furniture) and talking to my mom about the baby that was going to join our family. I guess that would have made me four. I don't think I'll remember much earlier than that.

I can picture a kindergarten teacher whose name was either Miss Brown or Miss Black. I don't know if that was in Little Rock or in Baton Rouge, and I'm sure I only remember her because the fact that her name was also an accurate physical description. Things like that made an impression on my young brain.

My close friend in Little Rock was a kid named Jason -- by now, chosen for myself since I was in school. The times that I spent the night at Jason's house were my first real exposure to pubescent kids and to older siblings. I was still into stuffed animals (of course I might still have my stuffed bear if it hadn't burned up in an orange Volkswagon Van, but that's a story for another day); Jason had a poster of Christie McNichol on his wall. And having those older siblings, he knew all about what boys and girls did together. In retrospect, he really did know way more than a second grader should have.

I don't remember Jason's last name, but I remember that both of his parents were named Jackie. One night, we decided that we would pretend to be Indians. We ran into the room where the two Jackies were watching TV, naked as the day we were born. We made that Indian noise that happens when you move your hand to your mouth and back while you scream, and we ran crazy around the room shooting imaginary arrows. At some point, we decided that we had been shot up with enough bullets or arrows and dropped dead on the living room floor.

I can still hear Jason's mom like it was yesterday. Exasperated, almost to the point of being out of breath: "Jesus Jackie, get them out of here." That's as funny to me now as it was when I was eight.