Friday, June 3, 2016

90's Kid

I am almost grateful to have grown up in Buffalo in the 90’s. It challenged me in ways children who grew up in coolers cities or more recent decades were not, and it forced me to become creative. I had to be a little more imaginative, than say a Brooklyn kid with Xbox, if I wanted to have fun. When I complained to my father that I was bored back then, he would say “You’re boring”. Which was true. So I quickly became un-boring.

One hobby I took up was duck catching. We had a pond in our backyard that was home to a family of ducks. Their signature duck waddle gave me the impression that they would be slow enough to catch. This was not the case because, as it turned out, those things also have wings.

If I wanted to watch a movie (and I REALLY did, because we weren’t really allowed to), I had to be completely committed to the cause. There were hangers involved, VCR rental companies, and lots of scheming. I discovered if I stick a pin in the back of the TV monitor, I could watch Arthur. There was a lot of static, but the way I saw it, fuzzy Arthur was better than no Arthur at all. Sometimes I could catch a rerun of Full House or if I was crazy lucky, a new episode of 7th Heaven. One night I found myself watching TV through a crack in my sister’s closet.

I created an Ebay account in my mother’s name and bid on used TV/VCR combos. To my delight I usually won the auctions, but I never actually paid for them because I didn’t have any money. Ebay frowned upon this behavior and eventually shut me down.

I lied a lot, just to see if I could make people believe ridiculous stuff. Most times people were so bored themselves, they would believe me simply because they wanted it to be true.

I told some people Mary-Kate and Ashley lived down the block. I informed my little sister, Ita, and her friend that the music sensation Uncle Moishy took up residence in our basement. And to make things more exciting, his roommate was Uncle Pinchy. Technically Uncle Pinchy was a puppet, but once they were on board with Uncle Moishy, I figured it was believable that two uncles might live together. Plus these girls were like six, and what do six year olds really know about life anyway? I also tried to convince Ita (the target of most of my lies) that there was a family living in the manhole in our backyard. We’d knock and knock on the waterhole and when no one answered, I’d shrug and say “Oh I guess they’re out of town.”

Ita loved when I made her shows, but I didn’t have any Barbies or little Fisher Price people to use as characters, so I used my big sisters’ old makeup. I assigned them names, occupations, and personalities. There’s still a tube of coral lipgloss hanging around somewhere in my parents house named Aunt Martha...

I think it's safe to assume a child named Kale, growing up on the urban streets of Park Slope has not, nor will ever, experience any of that stuff. But it's the stuff that made me who I am today, and gave me the ability to think more inventively, and for that I am grateful.

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