Monday, July 28, 2014

The Highlight of My Childhood

So a few weeks back I was visiting my parents and siblings. And randomly, some reminiscing about our shared childhood came up.

My younger brother was the one who started it. He brought up the fact that when we were little, we had a few of these Mr. Men figurines. We loved Mr. Men -- owned all the books. Anyways, apparently I thought one of the (most likely) green toys looked like snot. So I named him Snot Nosepick. One of the female figures also looked like mucous, so of course she became Booger Nosepick. They also had their kids, Green Nosepick and Yellow Nosepick. What a nice little nuclear family, the Nosepicks were. My younger brother declared that it was the Highlight of His Childhood. I had totally forgotten about it.

Not to go all self-obsessed on you (oh who am I kidding? I love being me!), but it was a bit of a reminder of my own power. Among my younger brother and sister, I was a bit of a ring leader. ("Where was I during all this?" My older brother protested. Acting too cool for school, I think we said). I mean, other than the Nosepicks, there were the times the three younger of us played with Barbies. ("I can't picture you playing with Barbies," protests my love). Oh, don't worry. We never played with Barbies in that way. No siree, no princess dress-up, playing house for us -- unless it was in the shoe-box-and-ducktape house our mom made for us, complete with mac tac wallpaper.

Most of the time, we pretended that "someone had turned off the gravity" and floated our dolls up to the criss-crossing hardwood planks of the crawl space. There, we'd shove our Barbies and Kens through a plastic pipe, by which mechanism they'd enter another dimension.

A dimension in which 'California Joe', so-named because he was one of the California Raisins, gave concerts for the Barbies. Of course, he needed an opening act, which consisting of broken Barbie parts singing what they were (i.e. "leg, leg, leg, leg"). By the time he hit the stage, the audience was so sick of singing legs that all he had to say was, "yo" to send them into 1964-Beatlemania-like frenzies.

And then there was the time that the Barbies went on an epic road trip. We packed a bunch of them into a pink Barbie car and drove it over hills (stairs), into vast valleys (basement) and eventually into a mysterious and apparently hilarious tunnel (a laundry bucket). Then my younger brother decided to up-end the tunnel and sit in it. The consequent of which was that Ken lost a leg, and I renamed him Hopalong Cassidy. Even when my dad repaired him by giving him duck tape boxers, the name stuck.

There were outdoor games as well, all made up by yours truly. I remember amusing the neighbourhood kids with "fight the giant". We'd use basketballs for cannon balls and skipping ropes as Indiana-Jones-style whips (who needs Nerd guns?). There was also "explore the planet" during which we'd take our bikes to the cul-de-sac on our street and ride around its perfectly circular circumference.

I'm not sure what brought these memories on. But other than being merely self-indulgent, I think that the point of dwelling on them is to remember my own power. It's not that I've had a blow to my confidence lately, but it happens from time to time. Call it an exercise in filled up that "encouragement" file in my head. That file that each and every artist needs in other to overcome self-doubt and avoid creative paralysis.

I was a creative kid with a wacky sense of humour. And that hasn't changed! I just have to remind myself to play with ideas as much as I did back then.