Thursday, February 4, 2010

Kids are Like Hamsters...or Perhaps it Was Just Me

So it seems that childhood stories will likely be featured often in this process, but I have a few reasons for that: a) kids really do say/do the darnedest things, b) it makes me happy when I remember some of these things which happened so long ago which are worth remembering, c) again, this is a practice excersise and what comes to mind, comes to mind! And finally d) that is how this whole idea came about.

A few years ago, I was sitting on my deck trying to figure it all out (not the deck, but it all, you know?) Where am I going in life? What am I doing? What do I want to do? I kept coming back to this idea that I wanted to be a storyteller, not in the professional sense, but just among my friends, just for fun. I would never be Robert Munsch, or find myself standing in front of a group of wine sipping, adoring fans, rather just a random gal with random things to tell at random moments.

And so, here I am (finally) trying to begin. This week, I was having all these hilarious memories rushing back at me, and the mix of my wish to tell stories, and my wish to write again, sorta crashed in a messy pile which yelled "Hello!!! Here I am! Your ideas! You can't ignore me!" Alas, so I didn't. This little story I'm about to tell was, in fact, the first story idea I had for this project. It's a story I have already told many of my friends, so you may have heard it before, but it still makes me giggle more than the potato soup I'm eating right now.

When you're a kid, one of the best parts about school (beyond class pets, and when you find out your teacher actually and hilariously has a first name) are the class trips. Those little excursions where you get to ride the big yellow bus to the big city and spend the day oohing and aahing at how newspapers were printed in 1895. These trips always consisted of the drive down the Gardiner Expressway, past the Mr. Christie's water tower, at which point the whole bus would erupt into "Mr. Christie you make good cookies" while pointing and glaring in my direction. All I could do was slink down in my seat and think "Yeah, but they spelled my name wrong". This was the equivalent of a dad joke, that kind of joke your dad says over and over and over and laughs every time as if he's never uttered this amazing wit before.

So there it is, school trips. This story, however, is not about one of my school trips, nor is it really about school trips at all. Rather, it is about one of my little brother's school trips and what he brought back. He was about 7 years old at the time, and I really have no idea where he went for this trip, but he came back with a giant crystal of salt in his pocket. This thing was nearing the size of a tennis ball, only much less spherical, it's hard, rough surface caught my eye immediately.

I've always had a strange affinity for salt, sneaking into the kitchen to pour a little salt from the shaker in to my palm to lick it up. Yes, I preferred Fun Dip like any other normal child, but you take what you can get, and every now and then I just wanted a little salt. My mom just couldn't keep my fingers out of my mouth when we were sculpting Christmas tree ornaments out of salt dough, but that's another story.

This sparkling crystal of salt was just so much more interesting then salt dough and kitchen shakers. It held a mystery that was unmatched by other types of salt, hailing surely from another planet, or a dark, drippy mine far, far underground. So where do you think my brain went? Well straight to my little brother's desk drawer, in which the crystal lay, of course. I would take any opportunity to sneak into my brothers room (when he was off playing in the dirt somewhere) in search of this salt crystal...and have a lick.

We all know what little boys rooms are like, places of mysterious smells and objects; but what about their desk drawers? I shudder to think, really I do, but in I would go. Digging around in that top desk drawer, among papers and pens and pencils and crayons...definitely crayons. This salt crystal was so covered in pencil shavings, grime and coloured crayon wax, it was difficult to even find a clean little spot. But I was always successful, it just took a little brushing off and a dust with my sleeve. Now that I think of it, I'm quite positive that my brother has no idea that I ever did this, and I'm not sure I'll ever tell him. It's not that I'm overly embarrassed about this, but rather, its the fear he'll tell me "That thing? Damn, I found that on the sewer grate under a pile of yellow snow!"

Sometimes, its just better not to know.

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