All of these stories take place in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rev that engine, Daddio!
My father likes women. He just does. When he and my mother were married, Dad had a motorcycle. When Mom got pregnant, the deal was that Dad would sell his bike and get a car. Dad agreed to this, only he never actually sold the bike. What he did was stash it at his mother’s garage, and he’d take the train to her place, pick it up and go to school. Clever man. But he should have known that you can never fool your wife. One day he pulls up to a stoplight and on his right side are some rather good looking women in a car. So he revs his engine and flirts a little. They flirt back. As Dad starts to flirt more, a familiar voice says his name. On his left side is my mother, with me in the car. That night, Dad handed Mom the pink slip and the bike was never seen again.
As a child, I invented a character to keep vampires away from me at night. He was Wally the Good Vampire. I think Wally came about because of Sesame Street. Don’t get me wrong, I love that show and think it’s one of the best things out there for kids. Or at least it was. The new hip-hop Sesame Street confuses me a little. I’m a bit of a math geek and so’s my Dad, so when I was young no one was shocked that he bought me a doll of my vampire character. The Count. I was thrilled because the Count was cool and perfect and everything I wanted. Then Dad pulled the string on his back. “Von, two, three! Ah, hah, hah!” he counted. And I screamed “Count away! Count away!” So Dad pulled the string again. What took him a while to understand was that I was scared of the talking Count. After all, none of my other dolls talked to me. In the end, Dad had to snip off the pull string before I’d let the doll back in my room.
I have this history with head injuries, and it all traces back to George Lucas. Like most children, I was fascinated with Star Wars and wanted to be Luke Skywalker (not that Leah wasn’t kick ass, but Luke had a light saber!). When I got older, I always played Han Solo, but at first, it was all about Luke. My Uncle Max had bought and put together a toy Millennium Falcon for me (the kind that fit my little action figures) and I thought it was a wonderful toy. He also was there when someone (I forget who) bought me toy light sabers. So naturally I nominated Uncle Max as Dark Vader (because the guys in white were the White Vaders… Shut up) and I was Luke. These were the old, solid toys that no parents will allow today. The light part didn’t light up and all it really did was make a ‘waaah’ sound when you swung it around. Cool enough for me! Max was much better at the fighting than I was. Then again, I was a child. Finally, when I was so annoyed with him, I swung back hard, rearing to smite my uncle a mighty blow! Only I smote myself and knocked myself down and a little bit out. I’ve been told it was an hour or so before my mother could breath without falling into giggles over that one.
Smurf Radios and Evil Hands
I like listening to old time radio programs since, well, they’re fun! Jack Benny’s my hero and I like comedy the most. One year for my birthday I got a pocket radio. It was a Smurf Radio, and for all my childhood sins, I regret the Smurf phase the most. Still it was a good radio and a solid one at that, so I can’t complain. One night I was listening (past my bed time) to the radio show about horror/sci-fi stories. This story was about a man who had lost his hand, and the doctors attached the hand of a condemned criminal on to his wrist. The hand was an evil hand, and forced the man to do evil things. Finally, the man had to chop his hand off. The part that terrified me was the last lines, about how the hand, after the man had left, slowly got up and crawled away … presumably to do more evil. It was a long time before I’d listen to the radio after dark.
There are, of course, more stories. Such as ‘That one fight’, ‘Digging to China’ and ‘Michael and the bear’ …