Thursday, October 1, 2015

7233. BELOW THE WATER LINE, pt. 26

(pt. 26)
My favorite times of year have always been the
dark, shortened, chilly and gloomy days of November
and early December. Before the real 'cold' sets in  -  more
the little transitional stuff that happens before the Dec. 21
solstice. That was always me  -  I love to see people
bundled in coats, and I was always so captivated by girls
in their coats and scarves, gloves and hats, with the presence
of the eyes taking center stage, with their face. It was always
totally artistic to me, other-worldly, magical, and with more
love and mystery than ordinary life ever afforded.
I loved the hidden, the swaddled.
On those sorts of days, when a kid, again about 1960, I'd walk
up and down my street, take big circle walks to the highway, the
trailer court, Avenel Street and the rest, often while holding
that radio  -  which would be playing  -  through the magic of
transistor  -  any one of a fifty tunes that swept me forth, took
me away, led me to a lamplight somewhere I could only see
myself. No one else ever knew what I was talking about : I was
another, I wasn't me. I had somewhere to go, some score to
settle, some outer-banks somewhere, to achieve. It was the same,
 indoors, upstairs in my attic room at the back of the section
my father had somehow nicely transformed into living
quarters : with him, hammers, nails, and boards, I'd spend
some time putting up walls, finishing banisters and doors, 
etc. My uncles would come by to help, laying insulation, 
stapling to bare walls, then plaster board, then smoothing,
then painting. Actually all that tedious stuff I simply grew 
to hate. We made a cedar closet, out of real cedar wood. All
lined and finished, it gave off the strongest smell, when you
walked in, of, I guess, the cedar wood, which was supposed to
keep protected and free from moths or something all those fancy-
ass clothes and furs we never had anyway. Never figured that 
out. But anyway, I got a really nice room out of it, large,
secluded, well-lit. It was, everywhere, very nice. I only
begrudged my father his choice of flooring. He always did 
have terrible taste  -  everything had to be large, super-strong,
overdone, but usually pretty tastelessly, without any finesse or
decoration. Simple, cut plywood, overly-large pieces of lumber.
But, in this upstairs, he ruined everything by selecting two things
I really hated. First was 'spackled' walls. Instead of like a smooth,
nice coat of paint, he used some ridiculous contraption that
'sprayed' some sort of silly, multi-colored, tiny-specked, textured-
finish paint. It was horrible; touched of pink and red, really lame.
Than, even worse, we had to lay, tile by tile, some horrendous
1950's style grey, 12X12 inch asbestos floor tiles, after first
swabbing the plywood floor with a thick brown gluey stuff with
a metal trowel or whatever it is. The tile was horrible and also 
swirly with bad marks of color, and its being just so horrible,
in conjunction with horrible wall-finish, became just gross.
But I lived with it  -  until I repainted my own space at least to get
rid of the wall-paint. I used a light tan, or eggshell color, I don't 
remember. He also did a lot of paneling, which is pretty much
equally as bad as anything else. But I liked my room, and for those
years it was mine, I dug having it. Once I left home, however,
about 1961, late, it was no longer mine. Bummer.
When I was maybe 9 or 10, another Christmas thing I got, which
I put together and was fascinated by  -  kept it for a while, on a pedestal
like a sculpture, near the center of the room  -  was what was called
'The Visible Man.' I don't know what my parents were thinking, or 
where they'd gotten the crazy idea for this, unless perhaps they 
thought I'd be a doctor or something  -  it was a clear plastic, 3 ft. high 
MAN. To construct it, as I did, you first had to literally put together
 the inside body  -  all those spinal parts, colored organs, bladder, 
heart, lungs, things for veins and bones and cartilages, etc. Pretty 
much everything except a penis, which was 'suggested' by a plastic 
bulge. (Probably by the same guy who invented the Speedo bathing 
suit, or something). Once all that was finally done (after following 
some way-weird instruction booklet) it was all encased in clear, 
full-body plastic, so it showed everything  -  brain, eyes, jaw, neck 
and chest stuff, heart and kidneys and all that crud. It was, let's 
say, bizarre. I've always enjoyed bizarre, I guess.
I also had, my father built for me, a crystal set  -  a short wave radio 
of sorts. It wasn't great, but I had it in a back closet, nearby to a 
window out of which I'd hung antenna stuff. I could rotate and 
move things around, in varied directions, to get clear signal. I'd pick up 
every sort of strange place the world had. Other languages, talking 
people; I do remember, specifically two wonderful things. One was a 
'Radio Romania' thing. I hadn't even known then about a place called 
Romania, but they, in English too, were always weaving Romanian 
folktales, telling stories, talking their history, having people on singing 
Romanian and Gypsy folktunes, showing a real pride in their past
and their culture. I was fascinated and so taken. I loved it. And
another lucky instance too, was the Francis Gary Powers U2
Spy Plane incident  -  which almost became a real crisis. I got Radio
Moscow and I got their viewpoint  -  which totally differed from ours.
Eisenhower, in fact, had a Summit Meeting with Kruschev cancelled
over the issue  -  an American spy plane pilot, this Powers guy, was
shot down way high up over Russia, on a flying spy U2 plane mission,
which we claimed weren't even ever happening. He was captured, the
Soviets went nuts, he was forced to a confession, the plane parts 
were recovered and shown  -  all a huge brouhaha over the usual 
Government lies. I had a ringside seat, for months, because of my 
crystal-set radio. Me and, of course, my Visible Man  whom I never 
named because, no, no matter what they said, he didn't really exist.

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