The Flowerpot Men Beat City
Is it just me or does time go a hell of a lot quicker than it used to? It is no myth that our lives move at a vastly accelerated pace the older we get and that’s just one of the cold hard facts of life that we are required to get our heads around as we veer towards middle-age and ultimately twilight. If proof in the pudding is what you crave then I urge you to simply look where we are now. The month of January barely even registered before February came along and pushed it aside although, to be honest, it’s hardly the greatest loss as January is a lousy excuse for a calendar month at the very best of times. Study the facts: we’ve ordinarily all gained a waist size once the festivities have subsided and our wallets are thinner than a Slim Jim with polio after shelling out for overpriced gifts so, coupled with Narnia-esque conditions, it all makes for a fairly disheartening thirty-odd days if you ask me.
It bothers me that Monday and Friday appear only a whisker away each week and, for all my best laid plans, I appear always to be behind with my own draconian deadlines. I’m fairly convinced at this stage that I will never again grow any younger but am determined to fight off those white hairs which threaten to populate both my ears and nostrils and hang onto every scrap of my youth before my lobes and testicles enter into some kind of southward pact. I may currently possess the lungs of a decidedly senior citizen but I’m banking on that old nugget about any bodily damage inflicted repairing until you hit forty. I have a few months left of excess before knuckling down but, I will say this now and with unflinching eye contact, there is no way I’m leaving the house in a cardigan. With that stated loud and clear, let’s look at a few ways to dip into that fountain of youth while it is still accessible shall we?
I spend the lion’s share of my time reminiscing, whether copping an earful of old eighties electronic pop music or watching old John Hughes movies, I find it a stellar way in which to keep the wolves from the door. I truly regard this epoch as my fondest and I’m aware that this is largely due to the fact that my own development ran symmetrical with this period. Many of life’s lessons were schooled by movies such as The Breakfast Club, which inspired me to love the jock, dweeb, princess, weirdo and rebel, on equal terms, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which taught the importance of grabbing some scheduled downtime and reminded me just how hot Mia Sara was, and Platoon which taught me all manner of expletives and killed off one of my earliest personal heroes in Sergeant Elias. I never fully forgave Tom Berenger for that one.
Meanwhile, by the late eighties, I received a tutorial on why mama believes you deserve to be knocked out by LL Cool J, and was supplied exclusive intelligence on how to become paid in full by Eric B & Rakim, who were absolutely convinced that I had soul. Run DMC invited me to spend long weekends at their house, and Public Enemy schooled me on the perils of believing the hype and the art of bringing the noise. Dare I say that I even began to exude a faint whiff of cool although seemingly I was the only person on the planet aware of this. My parents were on benefits at this point due to my father’s worsening condition so Nike Air were a no-no and I had to be content with a pair of Dunlop Green Stripe. I could hear Flavor Flav shaking his head in disgust and even Kid ‘N’ Play didn’t extend an invite to their House Party.
I also recall the hula hoop, a spherical waist-band which I struggle to keep above my child-bearing hips for any more than a picosecond even now, and Garbage Pail Kids Trading Cards which introduced me to all the stereotypes I was likely to be exposed to on my thorny path through adolescence. You know: the boy riddled with acne, the snot-nosed little punk who projectile vomits after every meal, and of course the kid who can fit five baseballs in his mouth.
I petted my monster for the first time at the middle of this decade and repeated the process the very next evening with a tub of my mother’s hand lotion and a copy of National Geographic. Puppy love also made an appearance and that meant the bitter pangs of first love.
I recall those first guttural twinges as it began to manifest with great clarity. My very first embrace was beyond awkward as I believed that French kissing involved placing your tongue firmly in your own cheek and not your opposite number’s. Instead of dancing tongue tango, I spent the entire time gagging as I learned just how troublesome multitasking really is for a boy. Then there was the subsequent demolishment which coincided with receiving news that the object of my affection was, in fact, not nearly as into me as I was her. It was all going so well until that kiss. I regard myself as wonderfully expressive and adaptable when it comes to lip service now and that is due, in no small part, to looking like the biggest bag of dicks in state on my primary outing. Later, I struggled to grasp the concept of coitus although this did admittedly give me a head start on perfecting cunnilingus. You see, sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth.
Real life was proving far less than the walk in the park promised at commencement but thankfully horror movies were on hand to provide me an altogether less arduous education. I spent an evening in Texas, sharing a Thanksgiving spread with a family who had no discernible table manners whatsoever whilst willing Gramps on as he desperately attempted to deliver that knockout blow with his hammer to no avail. I learned of both the perils of camping and joys of skinny dipping courtesy of Friday The 13th, whilst concurring with the popular belief that in space no-one can hear you scream thanks to Alien. In addition, I ascertained the perils of prodding my penis through a shower wall from sneaking back to Porky’s after dark.
Actually, that particular movie got me incarcerated for a week (three days with parole). I still remember the very moment my mother entered my boudoir to witness over a dozen untamed breasts and several spots of thigh level foliage. Mom was disgusted of course although I was simply engaging in the rites of passage any boy does once the goalposts change and still maintain that she got precisely what she deserved. Having said that, Paulie The Penis likely didn’t help my cause.
With all bases soundly covered, I stumbled into my teens as a bandy-legged fawn and said pins eventually began to flesh out by the close of the decade. Exercising my penis daily appeared to aid no end in its development so I took every opportunity to master the chicken choke-hold, whilst keeping an ear to the ground for stairwell reverberations. Indeed I was a product of my environment and this pleased me as the eighties were crammed with shining lights. They never received the adulation they do now, and were considered the collective diarrhea of the sixties and seventies, charged with the loss of individuality. The whole free world was dressing like Cyndi Lauper, donning luminous leg warmers and more than enough bangles to walk like an Egyptian.
Pink neon leotards were never really my thing thus I dusted off my MJ brogues and spent at least half the decade sliding backwards with a terrifying lack of rhythm or awareness of my environment. My first 7″ single was Take on Me by A-Ha and this was followed by my primary LP, Tango in The Night by Fleetwood Mac. My introduction to edgier music like rap and Chicago house didn’t truly take hold until the mid-late eighties and I was more than content with cherry pop fodder as an interim measure. It wasn’t until puberty was well afoot that I started to crave a little more swagger and suddenly all my previous heroes became shunned by my playfellows so I just listened to them in private instead and towed the line to appear more hip than I actually was.
Duran Duran Rio
You never forget where you come from, like it or not. The seventies were a blur to me and I recall only a handful of instances before the eighties began in earnest. One such indiscretion stands out like a pimple on my Johnson and that, my friends, is The Rabbit Hutch Affair. This occurred on the cusp of the eighties and I was barely old enough to so much as spell sex, let alone partake in any. Nevertheless I still managed to get myself in a spot of hot water, largely due to perhaps the earliest ever recorded sightings of testosterone. Six-years-old I believe I was.
The Rabbit Hutch Affair
The Hutch-Gate Sanction
It all started so innocently. It was a birthday party for a neighboring child located two doors along from my own house and every kid on the block was invited to come grab themselves a party bag. I spent the lion’s share of the festivities in the garden area, more specifically, behind the rabbit hutch as I went from nipper to fully unlicensed general practitioner and began to run my own illicit clinic for deviants. The birthday girl and her marginally older brother were the two recurring patients on my list and each, in turn, would make an appointment to see Doctor Keeper. Behind the hutch I was busy pinging on my gloves and flexing my digits as I prepared for a spot of afternoon surgery.
“The doctor will see you now”. So as not to arouse any suspicion I saw my male patient first and, armed with imaginary stethoscope, gave my swift prognosis. “Clean bill of health…next!!!” He was as pleased as punch of course, although he may not have been, had he been aware of the assiduous full service his sister was about to receive as she arrived for her first smear. “Oh my…oh my…this isn’t good. I’m afraid I’m going to need you to drop your cotton panties to your knees immediately. This will need to be a most thorough examination young lady”. Down her bloomers plummeted, until they rested on her frilly white bobby socks for a good few drawn-out moments of rigorous assessment. After stroking my chin, and hers, for sufficient time I sent her packing and the cycle perpetuated.
Her brother was positively thrilled by the constant encouraging news delivered each time he stepped into my office. She, on the other hand, was on the brink of neurosis by about the third rotation. Suddenly, my license to practice was callously revoked, as her already mildly disapproving mother copped an unappreciative eyeful from the kitchen as she prepared the jelly and ice cream. Unfortunately for me, the hutch stood on four wooden supports akin to a beach house for rabbits and I hadn’t banked on the peep show I was providing as I scrubbed for surgery. Those pure white frilled knickers gave us away as they languished round her ankles and the penny dropped fast. There was indeed skullduggery afoot and my career as a physician was in clear and present danger of being nipped at the bud. What would Doogie Howser have done in my situation? Damn right he would have scarpered.
As soon as I discerned the wails of a banshee, I immediately realized that I had been soundly rumbled. For the next handful of seconds everything ground to near-halt as I grabbed my swabs and bolted to the nearby gate to make my hasty retreat. It felt as though I was swimming through a reef à la The Deep and it took every last drop of exertion just to drag my weary legs to the chopper. On arrival at the gateway I was met by a totally different locking mechanism than the one I had scoped out on insertion. One relatively simple latch had been replaced by a thousand complex contraptions, each attempting to bamboozle and deliver me to the mad woman gaining ground behind me with rolling-pin aloft and demented look in her eyes.
As soon as I discerned the wails of a banshee, I immediately realized that I had been soundly rumbled. For the next handful of seconds everything ground to near-halt as I grabbed my swabs and bolted to the nearby gate to make my hasty retreat. It felt as though I was swimming through a reef à la The Deep and it took every last drop of exertion just to drag my weary legs to the chopper. On arrival at the gateway I was met by a totally different locking mechanism than the one I had scoped out on insertion. One relatively simple latch had been replaced by a thousand complex contraptions, each attempting to bamboozle and deliver me to the mad woman gaining ground behind me with weapon aloft and demented look in her eyes.
Isn’t it frustrating how a little blind panic can transform the most menial exercise into a challenge in sheer terror? Fortunately my lock-picking skills came good and I released my shackles, darting off back to sanctuary hollering something along the lines of “I have a very strict code of doctor-patient confidentially you know madam” punctuated by “aaargh”. Finally I reached the homelands and procrastinated not in making my way back inside my bunker, the one truly safe haven. To my absolute horror this rabid dog with a bone had invited herself inside to dish out a severe scalding I wouldn’t likely forget in a hurry and wasn’t about to be denied. Thankfully for me, this is where she came unstuck, as she met stern resistance in the form of my older sister. She kindly informed her to “get the hell out of our house” and the nightmare was finally over. Consequently, I never did receive my party bag and my dreams of becoming a gynaecologist were dashed on the rocks of youth. Still got my stethoscope though…
I hold onto shit like this as it reminds me that my hip replacement isn’t necessary for a good few years yet and arthritic joints are also some way off. My dentures are my own making the glass of water on my bedside solely for refreshment and my testicles don’t resemble bat-wings and haven’t reached my calves just yet. There’s still some gas in the think tank and I fully intend to keep her running for some time to come. Holding those gorgeous eighties so close to my heart helps me to stay a few steps away from the reaper. Some memories fade but the best ones remain and I just happened to have stumbled upon some absolute doozies over the years.
For Keeper it is all about those rose-tinted spectacles. Nostalgia plays such a large part in our contentment, so long as the time we are attempting to recreate wasn’t devoid of such. I can only speak for me and I had a whale of a time, albeit laced with distant thunder. Any piece of music, scene from a movie, or recollection of tomfoolery should do it. Something which takes us back to that time, when life’s heftiest challenge laid in evading some scary-assed fishwife brandishing a block of timber. The cynics hadn’t sunk their petulant claws into us yet and we still viewed our existence through wide-eyes and walked around wearing those bubblegum smiles gladly.
I consider myself kind as I always rewind. Having worked for seven years in a video store, numerous man-hours were frittered engaging in this laborious exercise. My long-term memory has alarmingly remained in tact and, despite the battering it has received over the years, it still retains a whole heap of useless information. Through bleeding my memories through the Crimson Quill it affords me the opportunity to keep on rewinding. I believe it is here that I find the most exquisite balance. You see, I’m a ten-year old upstart in the shell of a thirty-nine year-old upstart so I consider that the best of both worlds. I will never forget where I came from, the route I took, or indeed the importance of the place I am sat now.
Each word I scribe on a thrice daily basis is garnished with rewinds; backward glances to times passed and reboots of many of the compromising positions I have found myself in over my tenure. That shit keeps the flying monkeys from my window ledge and reminds me just how simple life actually used to be. Armed with the intelligence I now possess of how to get myself from point A to B without particular incident, I can clamber safely into these recesses without fear of reprisal, or until judgement day at least. Sure, thirty years on, I’m still rewinding a stack of video tapes. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sinning in reverse,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
First Knight of TOK
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Director’s Cut 2015)