Thursday, April 27, 2006

The King of Dread and Other Silly Insecurities

Artwork (c) Singleton 2006

Introduction to Fear of The Unknown

I didn't start out in life all iffy, itchy, ants in my pants, scared of the dark. In fact I was a brave little cowboy at two, Peggy Lipton from the Mod Squad at ten, and probably out of this world by sixteen. No fear. My children think their generation coined that phrase. They're mistaken. We lived life by the fly. Half the cars I rode in didn't have seat belts, and we flew. Rip tides meant a great day to surf...or float...or play maniac drift wood...and we zoomed, perinwinkles and jellyfish dancing, churning under our sandy shadows. The local news announcement" "It's 11:00 p.m., Do you know where your child is?" meant put a dime in the payphone and call home...throw out the safety net, put Ziggy Stardust on one last time.

And then I rode the Zipper. It was probably 1973. There were 10 of us, and Miss Molly, of course. I wasn't allowed to ride with the boys. So Miss Molly was there, in her penny loafers, smiling, trudging behind us down the dusty aisles of the carnival. The designated driver. The designated Mama. She was in charge of getting us safely to and from the fair on this Friday night, and she believed in freedom. Let them have fun. "But is he nice?", "They're just kids", all of that...but she trailed behind us anyway, because she had to count heads on the ride home, and as many that rode in with her had to come home with her. I remember her standing there. Just past the ticket taker. Candy apple and cigarette in hand, in her moo moo and loafers, smiling at us... As we piled onto the Zipper, two by two....

Trisha and I buckled in, the cage clamping Bang! and our feet dangling forever in front of us...suspended over the dirty landscape of popcorn boxes, cigarette butts and torn ticket stubs. We laughed. And wiggled our feet and shimmied the cage. Could we rock it? We tried. It barely swayed. Our little dog pen in the sky was weighted at the bottom and our hundred pound efforts were not even tweaking the ride. So we screamed. As loud as we could. As if we were at the top of a ferris wheel reaching the heavens, on the yanking curve of a roller coaster falling from earth, we screamed. And Miss Molly just smiled.

The music blasted, not thumped. It sort of screeched and rattled against the cage. We banged. With our free arms we pounded, : " Let us out! Stop!" and we laughed. We wanted it to never end. This feeling of being jolted and snatched and flying precariously close to danger. And then we heard the noise. I think it was a boom, but like a snake, the tail end of it hissed. And the world stopped. Or at least the Zipper did. We were hanging face down, staring at the dirt, screaming. And we were almost at the top of the Zipper.

We just kept screaming. No fear. Fun. Laugh. Kick your sandal clad feet. And then one by one, as the fire grew, they were cranking the cages down towards the ground. And everyone below us was climbing out of their naughyde nightmare and leapng to the ground. We were cranked higher. To the top. And then over the top. And then face down, to Miss Molly and the circle of faces holding the net. The net? Carnival canvas bunched up in a heap, held steady by a tribe of sunburned and wrinkled men, smiling up at us, (Is this supposed to be comforting?) hollering "jump" ! You're kidding right?

It was the smoke that convinced me to do it. To reach over and bop the latch. To send us free falling, clinging to nervous laughter and each other's jeans, through the air and into the makeshift trampoline. We landed with a thud, as 8 men came to their knees and Miss Molly watched. We had road rash from the flight, or the landing, or the twisting of our 'too-cool" outfits in the process.

And then we had free passes.

"Ride anything you like."


eric313 said...

Not allowed to ride with the boys?

Why would that be? ;)

I bet you were positively breathtaking at the time. There was probably a lot of wisdom behind the lady's thinking.


singleton said...

eric.....Busted! Nah, not yet allowed, and not yet fessin' up, either! God, we had great freakin' times......Funny, I still feel that age.....except my bones make noise!

eric1313 said...

I'm gettin' creaky and poppy myself, friend. Maybe we'll here the rest of this story one day. You are a very interesting person. People like reading about your life because of how you choose to live it and then the choices you make will staying on that path.

It's that "different drummer"; you must hear him, too.

singleton said...

eric...Maybe it's that drummer that drowns out the creaking...and we rock on and on....

eric1313 said...
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eric1313 said...
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eric1313 said...
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eric1313 said...

So Too Would Our First Loves Be

Rocking back in the day...
dancing as close as
cut-offs and the local
public decency
love-hater jive allows us to be.

different beats thunder from
the dark night in a constant
rumble of hip controling
noise and other sweet madness.

Whirlwinds and imperial ballerinas
stole their game from us, you know...

Pulling close as
one is to two,
a samba of bongos
drive a guitar
to cry mary
over the howlin' wind's
mournful lament for the past its blown by.

Later we'll fall on the floor
tripping and ecstatic,
but still find a way
to stay even with the beat
and the tempo.

Baryshnikov would've been proud.
So too would our first loves be.

It wasn't planned like that.
Just the way it worked out,
that love can fill an ocean
and that ocean
can fit into your blue

eric1313 said...

Now that's a good poem.


(don't ride on zippers with poets)

singleton said...

"Whirlwinds and imperial ballerinas
stole their game from us, you know...."

so very very ....I love it!

"Don't ride on zippers with poets" the first line of many more to come....