Friday, May 27, 2005

Musings: Under The B5

I remember. . . . Gosh, that makes me sound old starting off like this. Isn’t it only old people that start off with "I remember," like they are about to break into those boring stories of when they were kids? - no cars, no TV, no game cubes or internet. . . . But, even though I’m not that old,

I remember Bingo. . . . a smoke filled Legion hall and me only eight years old. Grime stained cards and numbers you had to cover up with those white beans or translucent colored plastic chips if you had them. And some old lady with stark white permed hair would always win, her knitted sweater (even though it was summer and about 85 degrees outside) fitting loosely over her plump frame, a cigarette hanging from her lips, ash as long as her baby finger teetering on the verge of falling to the dirt floor. . . .

I remember Balls. . . . cupped in the doctor’s hand. Goodness, how I hated that. Cough, he would say, and I would oblige, avoiding eye contact, embarrassed as all hell with my pants three quarters down and the door to his office open a crack so the nurses could walk by and look in - or so I though. Thankfully, it would end quickly. And what was the point? Didn’t I already fill a clear plastic beaker with urine, snapping on the white child-proof lid before handing it over? - They let children near your piss sample? - And I had to force myself to stop before my bladder was empty so I wouldn’t overflow the damn thing. That was uncomfortable enough without the final insult of the bag clutch and cough routine. I think they were supposed to be checking for a hernia? Do doctors still do this scrotum squeeze? And how the hell do they check girls then? Grab them by the. . . .

I remember Baby Duck. . . . I was too young at the time to buy booze at the liquor or beer store, but we always knew somebody in the older grades who could. So a magnum of Baby Duck it was on Friday or Saturday night - sweet as syrup, red as Easter egg dye, poured - chilled - into a wineskin. The wineskin, a wonderful invention that could hold an entire magnum and you could sling it around your neck under your winter coat and sip at it whenever you wanted. The outside of the kidney shaped wineskin was brown imitation deer hide, the inside a plastic black expandable bladder. A little twist off black cap with an eye on the end threaded with a sting so you wouldn’t lose it allowed access to the contents, and a black and gold braided heavy string-rope to sling around your neck for ease of carrying worked like a charm. Crazy nights in a cold northern town.

I remember Babylon 5. . . . It wasn’t Star Trek, and we were all weary of this upstart Science Fiction show. But only after a few episodes we realized this was different, it wasn’t a canned "nothing ever changes" show from episode to episode. We were treated to a 5 year story arc with ancient races, Shadows, political machinations and cool alien races of every form - and not just the bumpy forehead variety. The ships and space shots were all computer generated, but looked fantastic. What a treat. It was not a remake of Start Trek - it was all alone in the night.

I remember Bad Reception. . . . thirty dollar Radio Shack rabbit ears with parabolic dish sitting atop my twenty inch Sony TV on the second floor of my first house. Goddam last episode of the Shadow war was playing out on B5, and my reception crapped out. All I was getting was snow, bits of conversations and pissed off. I picked up the rabbit ear parabolic dish receiver, turning it every which way, cursing the elements for being what they were on the very night I would finally know the conclusion to the Shadow war. I sure had elevated blood pressure that night, and I never did get to watch that episode until may years later. I was devastated. I was a fool for caring. I have them all on DVD now as it should be.

I look forward to the future while remembering the past. Time passes so quickly. But through my daughter’s eyes I begin the cycle again. In watching her I recall her future in my past. I wonder how her doctor will check her for a hernia? But that is for her to know, and her dad never to find out. In a few years, when she is older, we can watch Babylon 5 together as well as a million other wonderful things. It brings me more joy than I can properly write down.

I look forward to. . . .

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