Wanna Play?

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Apr 7th, 2011
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animal_hatsAn owl lives in the trees that surround my backyard. I find it quite humorous, as for me, owls were always the subject of great fear and terror in my childhood. I’m not sure why, but when I was a small child, owls made me scream and cry. We had a stuffed one at our Lake House, and it resided in a locked closet whenever I was there.


Recently, as I was waiting for charcoal to be ready to grill some chicken breasts, my neighborhood owl took flight and caught my eye. I have come to adore this bird. He shows up, every now and then, probably preying on some tasty creature that lives in the woods. It’s strange, as I had an owl live by my previous 2 homes as well. No joke.


The entire scene mades me think of my childhood fantasies. I had an imaginary friend named Tommy. He was my pal. We spent endless hours together playing and having wonderful adventures together. But, there were others who were not so wonderful, and not fabrications of a young mind.


For instance, the “Milk Man”. As a young child, my family insisted that my actual father was our “milk man”. This may sound a bit cliché, but to me, it was a pure horror story. The man was hideous. I was a slave to my older siblings, for fear that he’d take me away and force me to drink milk. To this day, I abhor the very thought of drinking the stuff, and have taken to buying Almond Milk.

My Boogy Man


Of course, there was also the “Egg Man” and the “Charlie Chip” man. They were both rather creepy, but my siblings did not seem to care. Whatever happened to all of those door to door salesmen? Maybe they were truly creepy, and the law took them away.


Once we moved to another town, the freaks disappeared. My mom got eggs from a friend who raised hens, and milk was purchased at the store, but, rarely consumed. I was no longer afraid of owls, but vampires and werewolves occupied my nightmares instead. I slept with a cross around my neck, and a metal bank in my hand. A lock on my door and the windows locked shut, regardless of the heat. A story about clowns was never far from my mind. New terrors invaded my mind.


I look back on those days now and laugh. For now, I  prefer to remember the days of childhood in another way. I choose to cherish the days of playing in the sun, of gazing at cotton candy clouds, and skipping stones on Seneca Lake. The days of jumping rope, soaring on swings, playing hop scotch, and roller skating down the steep streets of the South Side.


Recently, I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. I went there with my cousin, 14 years my senior. We barely knew one another growing up, but somehow, we seem to connect. As we were descending the steps of the Met, after 5 hours of wandering around, he asked me, “What do you think of small children? See them over there.” I thought about it for a second or two and replied, “I love kids. See how they run and play? They don’t have a care in the world. How I would love to trade a day with them.”


As we walked away, a street vendor’s treats caught my eye. Small knitted hats, each one a magical animal. I walked towards them and spoke, “See, JD, we could each buy a hat. I’ll be the Lion. We’ll place them on our heads and turn into children. Imagine that! Running around the Met, not a care in the world.” He smiled and stepped towards the cart. “Look,” he said, “I want this one!” It was a penguin, and the best in the bunch. Hidden behind a bear, beckoning to us, “Come, join the fun.”


We’re setting a date to pull off our plan. Maybe, we might decide to wear those magical hats forever.

Wanna Play?




1 Comment

  • Cloudberry

    Aww…great story. Gaud, you brought back a few of my memories too. Tho I would never return to my childhood (to painful)…I enjoy being a child with my son (he is 8)..he takes me to places in my mind I only visited as a kid. Love the hats!! So cute!!

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