Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote about how mundane
tasks like rinsing dishes can wash you away in a sea of nostalgia, leaving you
teary-eyed and even more in love with the people you thought you already loved
more than life. If you care to, you can
read that post here.
I intended to use this blog as a place to share memories,
and at one point I had the idea – and it is my intent still, should I ever get
over this 3 ½ year case of writer’s block – to tie my love of music into this theme,
posting memories that are, however inexplicably, intertwined with a specific
song, like the time my friend Juan Villegas bought me a lime popsicle from the
ice cream truck while Sister
Christian played on WLS. I don’t
even like popsicles (particularly lime!), but now any time I hear mention of
Night Ranger, I yearn for one of those horrific neon green frosty treats on a stick. I’m sure the boys in the band would be
thrilled at the association.
But I digress, or regress, as I am wont to do…
Tonight, I am parked in front of my computer, determined to
shake off this writer’s block, and determined to resurrect my original
intentions for this blog, hopefully to carry them into the future until I have accumulated
a happy collection of memories that tell my story, or at least as much of it as
I am willing to acknowledge…public therapy, in other words.
The reason for this newfound motivation is that a special occasion
is coming up this Saturday: My sister
Donna, the subject of the above-mentioned post, is turning 50, and I was
invited to share some memories. And I
will get right to it as soon as I get my mind around the idea of Donna being 50...how can this be??? If my mom is reading this, I apologize for the exclamations of disbelief that just passed through
Scratch my head...
Ahh, okay…I think I’ve wrapped my mind around the
concept. Before I go off on another
tangent, here are the first five memories that came to mind when I thought of
Donna will know….
just don't Google "purple cow underwear"...trust me on that.
The highlight of my athletic career – I scored
ten points and garnered lots of “attaboys” from coaches and teammates in a
freshman basketball game against Riverside-Brookfield High School. Donna was there to share this momentous
achievement, and if that were the only game she ever attended, she might have gotten
the impression I actually knew what I was doing on the basketball court. After the game, Donna treated me to hot dogs
at Mr. Pup on Lee Street. Being a 15
year old boy, I, of course, didn’t consider showering in the locker room so I’m
sure that lunch was a true delight for Donna.
There was a gas station, cement block walls painted
white, next door to Pintsch’s True Value in Townsend, Wisconsin, where all they
sold, it seemed, was air mattresses and minnows. I would have staked my life on the fact that
the word “cowabunga” was invented by, and belonged to, me and Donna, and to us
alone. I don’t know why or how I
attached that word so personally to me and Donna, but I did, so it was
devastating (remember, I was about six years old) when I saw an air mattress
for sale at that gas station picturing Snoopy on a surf board shouting OUR word. I might be the only child to have been
betrayed by America’s favorite cartoon beagle.
And, years later, to see Bart Simpson flinging cowabungas about as if they
were road apples….simply heartbreaking.
This is a current memory: Donna’s hand-written notes I receive in the
mail every month or two are one of the only things that ever cause me to think
about moving back to Illinois. They mean
so much, and one of these days I’ll reciprocate. I promise!
The best of my childhood memories is of Thursday
nights when somehow Donna and I wound up being the only two at home. It might have been one school year, it might
have been only a few months, but my memory tries to convince me it was several
years. Unless the Cubs were playing, we
would watch Magnum, PI, then Simon & Simon, after doing the dishes of
course. I have remembered those Thursday
nights for 30 years, and they are some of my happiest memories.
Okay, well that was five memories, and I didn’t even get to
the time Donna treated me to my first ever bowling experience (I freaked out
over having to wear previously worn shoes - oh, the horror! - and tried embedding myself into the brick wall,
crying my eyes out), Jody Davis, games of hearts, or “RN stands for Real Nice”
and so much more.
And it pains me to cut this off here, before I’ve had a
chance to edit and perfect every single word, but it’s after 2AM and I have to
work in a few hours, so I will finish by saying happy birthday, Donna! Thank you for being a perfect sister; as much
as I loved you on those Thursday nights, I love you even more now.
Oh, and I did mention tying my memories to specific songs. I plan to provide more explanation in future
posts, but this time I don’t want to ruin the surprise. So, Donna, here’s the song that makes me
think of you: Enjoy!