I made an amazing discovery last night. While going through a bunch of boxes I have in storage, I found a whole bunch of things I had forgotten about, thought I lost, or didn’t even remember I ever had. It was such a great experience. I’m sure these treasures will be the subject of many posts yet to come, but today I’m going to start with the cover and first page.
A journal is something nearly every child and adult tries to keep at some point in their lives. It’s much more common for girls, it seems, than it is for boys, but to my surprise, I actually did keep a journal for a short time as a boy. When I found my old blue journal, I almost didn’t recognize it as mine.
I started writing in it when I was eight years old. I never make mention of why I started the journal or what the trigger was, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say it was because I was given one as a Christmas or birthday present. Give me a gift, and I will use it. (That hasn’t changed, even today.)
The first entry is from 2/6/1983 and the second, about a week later on 2/13/1983:
The way I talk about my family trip to Disneyland within the same breath as giving the exact date I broke my foot is remarkable. I wouldn’t be shocked if you made the assumption that I broke my foot during my trip to Disneyland, but that would be wrong. Those were two separate happenings in my life and I remember them both very clearly.
The Disneyland Trip
That trip to Disneyland was when I lost my roller coaster V-card. Up until that point I had never set foot on a roller coaster of any kind. Pirates of the Caribbean was as rip-roarin’ as I got. My older siblings loved the Matterhorn, but not me. I wasn’t going on that rolling carriage of snowy death. Nope. Are you kidding me? They said there was a huge man-eating snowman in there waiting to rip my tow-headed self limb from limb. Screw that.
One thing I remember about the trip was that we met up with some of our cousins there, so it was a whole bunch of kids 8-15 romping around the Magic Kingdom. You could call this next part a matter of peer pressure, but I call it blatant lying on the part of my extended family. When they heard I was inexperienced in the ways of coastering they insisted that I, being a kid fascinated with Space and the Space Shuttle, would love Space Mountain.
There was a Space Mountain? In Disneyland? How could I have overlooked it? I’d been on Mission to Mars, but never this Space Mountain. I was curious but still cautious, so I asked if the ride was scary. “Nope. Not scary at all,” they told me. So after a little more coaxing, I went; anxious to go on one of the big kid rides and up my street cred with my friends back home.
Upon entering the spired building, it was clear this wasn’t a kiddy ride. What had I gotten myself into? Weird music, metallic hallways, and ominous bleeps and bloops greeted me inside. The longer we waited, the more sure I was that I was going to soil myself on the ride. They’d tricked me. They knew I was of a gentle demeanor and wanted to exploit it. Bastards.
Disneyland, knowing that there would be a few washouts, did have exits at intervals in the line for those who want to chicken out, but I wasn’t giving in.
I climbed into the cart that looked suspiciously like the one I’d seen flying around the corners of the Matterhorn and cursed my relatives under my breath. How dare they? I’d teach them. I’d… I don’t know what I thought I’d do, but they’d regret this day. Somehow. They’d p— oh great monkey mother pus bucket. It was moving. The light tunnel rotated around me, messing with my eyes. Was the cart actually spinning?
The tunnel spat us out into a pitch black room filled with stars and more bleeps and bloops. These distractions only lasted for a moment before I felt the brakes disengage and my stomach jump up into my throat. The ride felt stupid fast to a kid like me, one who thought the 7MPH of the Autopia ride was amazing. It swirled around and around in the dark for about a minute and a half and then slid back into the loading area with a jolt. Lucky for myself and my traveling companions, I remained continent and loved every moment of my first roller coaster ride. I have been a huge fan of them ever since.
The Broken Foot
This school was the same one in which I discovered the limited ability of jeans to absorb a flood of pee and learned that Mrs. Casillas was more than just a teacher. This was approximately two years after that incident, and my first lesson in gravity.
Part of this narrative has grown a bit unclear over time, though most the important parts still remain intact. The basic idea was a game of team tag, I think, though this is the part that gets hazy. I remember running away from a bigger kid on the playground, but I don’t remember whether I was actually scared or if it was part of a game of tag.
I remember running away from this big kid through the dusty sand of the playground. I was a scrawny kid at the time, but I was quick. Quick enough to evade the brawn bearing down on me, in any case. I could only run for so long though (because scrawny) and it was at my most tired point that I thought climbing a ladder to the top of a slide would be a good idea.
I don’t know why I thought a game of tag would be resolved by climbing a slide, but I did. Maybe I was thinking that the kid chasing me would just follow me up the slide and when he got halfway up the ladder I would slide down, leaving his bigger, slower body in my wake. I really don’t know. No matter the reason I clambered up the ladder. When I reached the top, I grinned as he began to follow me up the ladder. That grin was erased when I saw my opponent’s compatriot blocking the bottom of the slide. if I slid down the slide, his comrade would tag me. If I didn’t take the plunge, he would tag me himself and I’d be “it.” No one wants to be “it.”
But WAIT! There was a third option.
Time running out and my two exits blocked, I peered over the side of the slide to the sand below. Sand is soft right? When I play in it, it shifts and moves, I said to myself, of course it would cushion my fall if I jumped over the side!
It wasn’t a huge slide. It was a standard slide you’d find on most playgrounds of the era: steel pipes and sheet metal reaching about eight feet from the tallest point to the ground. By contrast I was all of three foot nothing and all skin, bones, with a blonde mop for a head.
With glee that I had found a way to escape, I launched my skeletal frame from the top of the slide, landing in the soft sand. My plan to come away unscathed might have worked, had my knees not buckled under what little weight I had. They did buckle, and my legs collapsed underneath me in what they now call “criss-cross applesauce” but we called a more politically incorrect name. When I landed, one of the main bones in my foot cracked due to the impact and I yelped out in pain. One of the teachers monitoring the playground ran to my aid and hobbled me to the nurse, where my mom would pick me up and take me to the doctor, where an x-ray revealed a hairline fracture.
I was resigned to a pair of crutches and a cast for a few weeks, but the whole thing turned out pretty great. Why? Well, since I wasn’t allowed on the playground due to my injury, the teacher asked for someone to volunteer to stay in the classroom with me. One of the cutest girls in the class volunteered and so begins my ridiculous fascination with the opposite sex.
Oh, you’re asking why I didn’t address the next entry on the same page? What more can I say? It’s Donkey Kong. All that tells me is that my fascination with the opposite sex and my love for video games started at about the same time. Or at the very least, within a week of each other.