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We all settled in with popcorn, wearing our pjs.  Mom set up the VCR to record.  I got to hold the "clicker" to pause recording during commercials.  To this day, I can smell a commercial break coming a mile away.  It smells like popcorn and unleaned litter boxes.

"Mom, is this legal?"

"It's on tv.  They make blank tapes.  Of course it is legal.  Why would they make blank tapes if it wasn't legal?"

We had this argument before. When the final episode of MASH aired two years before, my conscience warred with my desire to remember that moment forever and ever and ever.  I got handed the clicker and figured if it was wrong, it was on me, not her.

I'm the kid, right?  For once it will be on her.

"I am just a poor boy, though my story's seldom told..."

I love this song.  I love ALL of these songs.  I wonder sometimes if I don't get them on a deeper level than my mother.

This is the song of people trying to find their way.  This could be my grandfather.  These songs, these words, speak to the experiences of my grandparents and great-grandparents, the people she will pretend to love until it becomes inconvenient.

I'm the one who isn't as bright as my sister and am prone to daydreaming.  I listen to the song, thinking about Grandpa's days fighting to make extra money.  Daydreaming in sepia tones of his life them.  Imaging Great-grandma Kraysyk stepping into a completely different world with Frances--my granma--and wondering what that might look like.  Was it too bright?  Was it a wonderful Technicolor fairyland?

The song makes me close my eyes, daydreaming.  Wondering....

Until the slap stings me back to reality.

"You're supposed to PAY ATTENTION!  Now we'll have a commercial on the tape!"

I snap to.  The television seems too bright, too false.  "I'd like to buy the world a Coke."

Peaceful harmony my ass.  I grab a handful of popcorn that already tastes like ashes in my mouth, waiting for those voices, those words to take me back.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
redqueenofevil
Jan. 29th, 2016 02:08 am (UTC)
Your mom is a jerk. Sorry not sorry.
mac_arthur_park
Jan. 29th, 2016 09:39 pm (UTC)
No apologies required.
zyzyly
Jan. 29th, 2016 05:16 am (UTC)
Such a poetic entry.

My great uncle was a boxer. When he got too old to box he owned a bar in San Francisco. I have a clock on my mantle that he got for winning a boxing match in the 1920s. next to it is an ashtray from his old bar, which holds the clock key.

I am leaving, I am leaving,
but the fighter still remains.
mac_arthur_park
Jan. 29th, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
That is such a lovely memory. Thank you so much for sharing that.
changeling72
Jan. 29th, 2016 07:55 am (UTC)
VCR? My God, you're nearly as old as I am!

I can remember when our VCR had a remote control - that was connected to the machine by a cable...

And my brother, when young, used to think that life in the 'olden days' was in black and white - that there was no colour!
mac_arthur_park
Jan. 29th, 2016 09:50 pm (UTC)
That was the same kind of remote we had! And it was one of those massive behemoths (gee, redundant much?) that loaded from the top.

That's one of three gifts I can remember father buying for her that she was genuinely pleased with.
changeling72
Jan. 30th, 2016 09:19 pm (UTC)
I remind Dad now that he always said that remotes were for lazy people... Ours loaded from the top too. There must be a whole lot of redundant tapes out there.
communitybee
Jan. 29th, 2016 11:37 am (UTC)
Love this.
mac_arthur_park
Jan. 29th, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
eternal_ot
Jan. 29th, 2016 12:49 pm (UTC)
I liked the usage of 'Technicolour Fairyland'..a nice re-telling..nostalgic..:) Good Job!
mac_arthur_park
Jan. 29th, 2016 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
adoptedwriter
Jan. 29th, 2016 01:25 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the memories this piece stirs up. Well-told.


AW
mac_arthur_park
Jan. 29th, 2016 09:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I can't seem to get these stories out of my mind lately.
kathrynrose
Jan. 30th, 2016 08:19 am (UTC)
I watched a few clips from that concert on youtube this week. It took me back too. :)
whipchick
Jan. 30th, 2016 02:14 pm (UTC)
I still have a ton of VHS tapes in the basement that I need to let go of...
ellison
Jan. 31st, 2016 02:39 am (UTC)
This is so well done.

I smiled at "clicker," because we always called it that, too, and my mom still does, haha!
misfitmanor
Jan. 31st, 2016 07:38 am (UTC)
I remember having to pause out the commercials! Man, that was a different era... Funny thing, too, I can't really remember watching too many of those blank tapes afterwards. I still get that coke song in my head from time to time, too. Paul Simon actually says the song is largely autobiographical... he was feeling pretty beaten up by critics who felt he was too "rock n roll" for folk music, and in this song he was more or less threatening to take his toys and go home, except he couldn't. Though, his lyrics are always fairly universal, so they can relate to any era, really. Sorry.... thinking out loud, here, got stuck on ramble mode. Their music, and his appearances on SNL were a prominent memory from my childhood, as well. Thanks for sharing this.... brings back a lot of memories, including I'm not going to have that coke commercial in my head for days. :P
sinnamongirl
Jan. 31st, 2016 10:38 pm (UTC)
I'm a little jealous your VCR had a remote... for quite some time we had to jump up to hit "pause" and that was a bitch, lemme tell you. I'm not even that old (coughcough), but that crappy VCR was all we could afford. Finally getting a TV and VCR with remote controls was a lifechanger, lemme tell you. Thank you for sharing this story!
inteus_mika
Feb. 1st, 2016 02:22 am (UTC)
Didn't have a TV for many years, and longer before we got a VCR, growing up, but could see this concert being worth setting up. The meaning you find in the music shows you to be a person of great depth of character, which is admirable, considering the environment. Thank you for sharing this vulnerable moment.
dmousey
Feb. 1st, 2016 05:15 pm (UTC)
Poor kid. This was engaging! Your protagonist is believable, and likeable. Thanks for writing! Peace~~~D
halfshellvenus
Feb. 1st, 2016 09:37 pm (UTC)
the people she will pretend to love until it becomes inconvenient.
You've written about your mom before, but I tend to forget until stark phrases like this bring it back. It is so hard for a child to separate out "is it me?" from an environment like that, when really, it's the parent and will always be the parent.

To this day, I can smell a commercial break coming a mile away. It smells like popcorn and unleaned litter boxes.
This part made me laugh, though. I used to have a sixth sense for commercials, but probably not as vivid as yours!
dee_aar2
Feb. 1st, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
I hate commercials too ... worst if they are on tape ... but whoa a sting on the face for that ... not so great
alycewilson
Feb. 2nd, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Great use of detail. It brings these memories to life. I am sorry you had to endure auch treatment.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )