Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Today I Am Older. Yeesh!

Shool Days ~ 1908 ~ Maxfield Parrish

benning on a humid windy day at Waxhaws - 199752 yeas ago I entered the world. My family then consisted of my parents and my Big Sis who was eleven days shy of her first birthday. On October 10th, 1955, my parents were celebrating my Dad's birthday with a nice Pork Roast dinner when Mom went into labor. I had decided to join them, thus becoming a birthday present for Dad. I have always been a sucker for a nice Pork Roast.

My parents loved to read and took pains to instill that same appreciation in their children. Me, I hated it. I liked picture books, of course, and comic books were always worth poring over. But read a book? Without pictures? *shudder*

But they didn't give up. On one holiday Dad gave me a paperback book - one of those Ace versions with two novels front and back - of one of his youthful favorites. It was Edgar Rice Burroughs' "The Moon Maid" and "The Moon Men". And I was well-and-truly hooked. Soon I had devoured every Science Fiction book on the book shelves and had to turn to other genres to feed my appetite. To our parents' chagrin they had created reading monsters, two children who would rather sit in their rooms reading rather than go outside and play. So the struggle thereafter consisted of shoving benning and Big Sis out the door and ordering them to play.

The best-laid plans, and all that, huh?

benning and Daddy - Christmas 1956Dad had an active imagination, which held him in good stead as he worked in advertising with RCA. I suspect he had to dampen down that imagination to concentrate on raising a family. And I know it wasn't easy. We never had much in the way of money, but we weren't poor, we never went hungry, and my folks made sure we always had whatever we needed, though they were smart enough to not give us everything we wanted.

Mom was and is a funny woman with a wacky, or odd, sense of humor. I come by my clowning naturally. Mom once confessed that she, too, had been a class clown in school. I come by my warped personality honestly, with too much day-dreaming imagination, and an "off" sense of humor that has gotten me into trouble more than once. Though it has saved me from traffic tickets twice!

Big Sis and I, being the only youngsters in the family until 1960, were very close. We were often mistaken for twins as we looked much alike - two little blond-haired cherubs. Don't let the cherubic look fool you. We did get into trouble. We did most everything together and had a pretty good time, growing up. We would sneak out the bedroom window and sit on the garage roof to look at the stars. In the winter, when it got cold at night, we would creep down the stairs and curl up around the heater in the hallway, where we would fall asleep looking through the little openings at the glowing light inside, snug in our jammies on the warm floor.

Momma benning in the mid-1970sBig Sis was more adventurous than I, and we did get into trouble. But we always survived. One summer day at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey, we paddled out into the surf on our raft. Big Sis and I were pretty far out, but we didn't pay attention. Mom noticed we were too far out, and drifting away, and tried to wave us back. Big Sis waved right back, thinking Mom was just enjoying our rafting. But I recognized the "Get back here" attitude, and began to kick, trying to get us back to Mom.

And so the Lifeguard thundered into the surf and rescued us! I tried to leave the raft because I could swim just fine ( I think I was all of six or seven at the time), but he shoved me back on and towed us to the beach. Embarrassing as all get out. And we still talk about it. With a chuckle.

The folks always introduced us to different foods that they enjoyed. Unfortunately they couldn't afford to feed us the kind of foods they addicted us to, and we never got enough of the really yummy stuff we now craved. Our grandfather - Dad's father - took us to dinner and made sure the little kinds had lobster. Big mistake! We were hooked! From then on, when Mom would ask how I liked what we were having for dinner, my standard answer became, "It's good! But I'd rather have lobster."

Grandpop also tried to get us interested in one of his favorites - raw oysters. The story goes that I gladly took the proffered goody into my mouth, shuddered at the feel and taste of it, and then sat there with a miserable look on my face, unwilling to chew the thing or swallow it. We had been trained well in table manners, so I could not spit it out. Mom still laughs about it, but she was never terribly happy with grandpop's antics. (Shoving his false teeth out of the front of his mouth made for screaming, giggling kids, but Mom thought it was gross.)

benning and Daddy - Christmas 1956Dad had thinning hair and I never knew him when he had full head of it. Since my own pate is very thin on top I blame him. We both struggled with our weight, and I continue to do so, as do my Big Sis and Li'l Bro. We never failed to kid Dad about his hair, to which he would chuckle and reply, "Very funny."

Mom was the disciplinarian, as you might expect, and we had a healthy regard for her spanking skills. Since Big Sis and I were rather mischievous we got our share of reddened butts. Only once do Irecall Dad actually coming home to find his children arrayed before him waiting or a spanking. He used his hairbrush and we learned our lesson. "Wait until your Dad gets home," was not an often used threat. We were too smart to go that far very often. Besides, as noted above, his hairbrush would always be practically new! Ouch!

With five decades behind me I can see where I went wrong with my life, and regret my laziness and lack of ambition. But I have most of what I need in life, and can change my circumstances if I choose. That's one of the things we should all learn, don't you think?

So benning is 52 today. I still feel like I'm just a kinda tired eighteen, and sometimes a thoroughly worn-out twelve. My humor remains thoroughly warped, and I still read everything I can get my hands on. And now I write, and even have a published novel. So it ain't all bad, is it?

And one of these days some fine woman will decide I'm not all that bad and make an honest man out of me.


I'm going to go buy some pork, some spuds, some applesauce, and maybe a German Chocolate Cake. And I will celebrate surviving past a half-century. Y'all have a great day!

Quote from a very young benning:
Looking at a neighbor girl, playing inside her fenced yard, "Hey, Girl! Let me in that cage!"

Seeing Dad's thin hair blowing in the wind, "Daddy's hair is laughing!"

In 1955 (the year you were born)

Dwight Eisenhower is president of the US

Hurricane "Diane" claims 184 lives form North Carolina to New England

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat, which leads to bus segregation being declared unconstitutional

The AFL merges with the CIO, creating the nation's largest labor union

Dr. Jonas Salk discovers a vaccine for polio

The Scrabble board game debuts

Disneyland opens in Anaheim, California

Kevin Costner, John Grisham, Arsenio Hall, Steve Jobs, and Billy Bob Thornton are born

Charlie Parker, Albert Einstein, and James Dean die

Brooklyn Dodgers win the World Series

Cleveland Browns win the NFL champion ship

Detroit Red Wings win the Stanley Cup

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is published

benning and Li'l Bro at Grandfather Mountain - 2000

Birthday Update: Went to the store to buy some nice pork - found some great pork ribs which are slowly cooking in Italian dressing, etc! Yum! - and other comestibles, and while wandering along the Beer and Wine aisle - I keep looking for Samuel Adams Cranberry Lambic, and never can find it, even during the Christmas season - I found something that looked interesting. I admit that a fancy package will draw my eye, and this did. It was a beer called Berry Weiss - Weiss being a version of German White beer - Bier by Leinenkugel's Brewing Company.

Berry Weiss Beir

It's a tad sweet, as it is brewed with berries, among other things, but it has a nice flavor. Unusual but thoroughly enjoyable. I like it! So it's my Birthday present to myself~! Heheheee!

I thought some of you might find another brewery interesting. If nothing else the web site is busy and the images are artistic and colorful. *shrug*



Joubert said...

Happy birthday, Benning, and may you have many more.

benning said...

Thank you, Patrick!

Gayle said...

Happy belated birthday, Benning! Sorry I didn't get here any sooner. I've been busy painting.

Anyway, it sounds like you had a great birthday even if you couldn't find the wine you wanted. Here's hoping you have many more great birthdays! :)

benning said...

Thank you! How did the painting go?

Anonymous said...

Funny thing...I get older every day.

Brooke said...

Happy birthday, Benning!

So you and your sister are Irish twins, huh? ;)

The Leinie is nice, but I prefer their Creamy Dark, personally! :D Mmmm!!!

Always On Watch said...

Well, at least you're younger that I am.


Happy belated birthday to you!

PS: Great memoir essay here and a fine tribute to your parents. I really enjoyed reading it.

benning said...

And I enjoyed remembering it!