Thursday, November 06, 2008

34 stories for my 34th birthday, installment 1

1. My earliest memory, I believe, is when I was 3 years old and found my dad's stash of pornographic magazines and took them into the living room, where my mom was asleep on the couch, and spent the next few minutes looking through them and trying out poses, on my own, in imitation of the "models".

2. I used to hunt deer. To me, deer hunting is not associated with deer killing. When I was ... 15 years old (or so), I attended a gun safety course in rural Bothell, at a gun range. We had to bring a rifle the second day of the course. I borrowed an old 30-06 with steel sights from someone. The first day was just classroom. Learning things like "Never point your gun at anything you don't plan to shoot." I think the instructor was probably very slightly terrified about the second day, although I didn't know that then. The second day we took our rifles out on the range, put on our hearing protection, and fired live ammunition at targets some 60 yards distant. I performed reasonably well.

During the late 80's/early 90's, I went on several "hunting trips". These involved several teenage boys and a couple dads. The dads tended to be the pastor of the sect I grew up in, Tom Minnick, and ... another pastor named Gary Prisk, and my own dad, and ... I can't remember who else. We all drove over to eastern Washington to the tiny town of Conconully, in the Autumn. It was cold. We camped, and spent our days driving and/or hiking through the national forest, hoping to find deer. You are only allowed to shoot bucks, not does. We occasionally saw does, and saw lots of "sign". "Sign" means, mostly, deer poop. You were supposed to feel it to see if it was warm.

I only ever saw one buck in all those years. He was a big one. He had 4 or 5 points on each antler. He was about 300 yards away at the bottom of a ravine, while I was at the top. I was going to attempt the shot, a rather long one, but while I was lining up the sights on my rifle, he ran away. That was my one big shot at killing a deer. Ah well.

Still, we had a lot of fun. We also went fishing, and caught lots of lake trout, which we would fry up in the evenings around the campfire. For breakfast we went down to Vicki's restaurant, and ate enormous lots of biscuits and gravy and eggs and pancakes and bacon and sausage. The food was really good. My dad used to play the pulltabs in there and once he won a kewl hunting knife, which he gave to me. In the afternoons sometimes we went down to Mr. Magoo's restaurant. The owner, Jack, was a strange character who'd spent his life collecting all manner of strange things, all of which were on display in his restaurant. There was a small train which ran between the kitchen and the booths, and he'd put your food on the cars and run it down to you on the train. There was an arcade game in there called joust that we'd play. See a screen shot here. It involved flying ostriches with riders on board who would joust with each other. It was fun.

3. I remember deciding, quite ... consciously, back when I was about 10 or 11, that I was never going to have a girlfriend or wife. I was a student at a tiny "Christian" school called Faith Baptist Academy in Waldorf Germany, just outside of Frankfurt. There were maybe 20 students of all different ages, most of whom were the children of American military personnel stationed in what was then West Germany, and the rest of whom were the children of American missionaries "serving" in what was then West Germany. (I suppose the American military personnel were "serving" there as well.) I noticed, as time went by, that among the older students there were these pairings that happened between boys and girls, which inevitably ended in breakups and then awkwardness and trouble all around. I thought "Who needs that? It's ridiculous". This eventually turned into "I'm never going to get married.". The things we tell ourselves do have consequences, and as it turned out I technically never had a "girlfriend" until Megsie, when I was 25 years old. Although I guess it's reasonable to say there were a couple close calls before that.

4. I started learning Spanish in 1st grade at South Hill Side elementary in Wichita Kansas. I was part of a special advanced class of super smart kids. One of the things we did as super smart kids was start learning Spanish. I also memorized the entire poem "The Night Before Christmas" as part of this class. Shocking waste, that. They should have encouraged me to memorize a better poem. Ah well. In this same class we made our own sun dials one day. We cut out circles of cardboard, inserted a short stick in the middle facing straight up, places them all outside in the middle of the playground, and went out every hour to mark where the stick's shadow was at the top of each hour. It's interesting how this early training/exposure came to fruition, as I now speak Spanish reasonably well, and am starting in on Arabic.


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