Friday, December 31, 2004

Stuff that works

By the time I finish this post, R.'s plane should have landed at LaGuardia and I can switch from worrying about plane crashes to worrying about whether things will go smoothly and safely for her in NY--that's how I intend to spend my New Year's Eve. S. and his buddy have been fed, have their sleeping bags and plentiful snacks for later in the evening, and L. and I will probably both go to bed early since we'll be getting up at 5:45 tomorrow to determine whether the new dvr will come on as programmed or whether it will need a manual nudge. A 12-hour marathon of clean, uncut episodes of Alias Smith and Jones, my all-time favorite show! It will be a very happy New Year, indeed.

Thirty-three years ago today Pete Duel, co-star of Alias Smith and Jones, committed suicide. I can remember how my eyes met those of my friend K. across the Monopoly board when the news came over the radio. She'd spent the night with me the night before so that we could watch the latest episode together. K. was the one who'd decided we couldn't love both Heyes and Curry, the way that I'd been inclined to do, the way that I'd loved Butch and Sundance, but that they had to be divided between us. Thirty-three years ago today, without batting an eye, she betrayed her former chosen one: "I like Kid Curry better."

I've been an unabashed Hannibal Heyes fan ever since.

There's a Guy Clark lyric that goes "Stuff that works/ stuff that holds up /The kind of stuff you don’t hang on the wall /Stuff that’s real, stuff you feel /The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall" and I've been thinking today about the stuff that's worked for me since childhood, the stuff I've never had to be embarrassed over liking, or outgrowing, or simply having its sheen of magic fade on me:

Farm sets and plastic dinosaurs. Green-feathered parrots. Harriet the Spy and Edie Cares. Alice, in both Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Old Yeller and Little Arliss and Jumper the Mule. Johnny Cash. Alias Smith and Jones. A horse that whinnies with pleasure at the sight of you. A walk in the woods. These have been the constants throughout my life, the childhood pleasures that have had lasting worth, the things that have belonged to me. I love them all dearly.

Sixteen years ago today I was in the hospital because my body had betrayed both me and the baby inside me. Sixteen years ago tomorrow a two pound six ounce baby would be cut from me eight weeks before he was due. Before a week was over he'd have pulled the tube from his nose and begun the task of breathing on his own. Sixteen years later he'll have matured into the type of young man who won't mind when his crazy momma wakes him and his buddy up at the crack of dawn on his birthday to record the show she was obsessed with when she was a kid.

He's even a Hannibal Heyes fan.

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