The title of the post is a parody of The Proclaimers, in a way. Today, eight years ago, seemed a very salient day for me. So, in today’s blog, I will reconstruct the journal that I wrote for that day, since it was in bullet points at the time. Here goes nothing!
I was moved to write this based off the Daily Prompt regarding the twelfth birthday. However, when I was an undergrad, I wrote a story based on the first line, “Twelve years old and I was so bored, I was combing my hair for the hell of it,” for my Writing of Fiction course. This is the second draft. Although I did a final draft of it, I cannot find it on my computer, and I am not going to do edits as is.
Twelve years old and I was so bored, I was combing my hair for the hell of it (don’t tell my parents I thought that.) It’s not fun to hide something from your parents and then get punished for it. Let me tell you, what I did was certainly a dumb thing. Here’s my curse:
Earlier this morning, I woke up at 7:00 AM, because my parents want me to wake up to an alarm clock. Do they not love me enough to wake me up anymore? They’re always awake at this time, because my older sisters, Gladys and Sadie, have to get up at 6:00 to get to their high school classes. I rolled out of bed, and I could barely see out my window. Frost and snow covered it completely. As a result, I concluded, “YAY! It’s a snow day!”
I went to my closet and put on a white sweatshirt and a pair of blue windpants. Then, I hopped out of my room into the main hallway, with portraits of our family in vacations to California, to Wisconsin, and to New York. Of course, we also have the photo of our family posed in front of our yellow house. The light from the ceiling blinded me because my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the light yet. As I squinted and blinked, I walked forward to the kitchen.
Mom was reading the newspaper as I entered the kitchen. She has lost much of her hair, as she suffered from cancer and had to get chemo last year. She loves me, but I don’t like when she gives me jobs, especially because she gives the girls all the slack. She said, “I heard you say it was a snow day.”
“No duh! Didn’t you see my window?”
“I haven’t gone into your room. Besides, are all windows alike? It could just be a big snow drift that got on your window, and only two inches fell.”
Just then, the radio announcers said, “We now have a list of school cancellations. The following schools are closed: Ashland-Greenwood, Bennet, Blair, …” and I ignored the voices until the announcer got closer to the L’s. Eventually, after what seemed like an hour, “…Lincoln Parochial Schools, Lincoln Public Schools,…” I jumped five feet into the air.
Mom said, “At some point today, I want some help around the house.”
Dad added, “Help me shovel the driveway. I work in an insurance firm, and snow doesn’t stop me from getting to work.”
I groaned, but agreed to do it. I thought, It’ll only take me five minutes. I get the whole day off! I put on some gloves, my Starter coat, and boots. As I did this, I also thought, Why can’t Dad do it himself? He worked in the Army for a year. Isn’t he fit enough?
I walked into the garage with Dad and clicked the button to open the garage door. The light on the mechanism turned on, but the door wouldn’t open. I tried again, but nothing happened. Dad exclaimed, “What’s wrong with this thing now?” I carefully walked, avoiding Dad’s red Chevrolet Camaro. He got this car three years ago, and he once told me, “Ralph, when you get a car, you’re better off with one that looks beat up. I don’t want strangers to mug you when you drive. I’ve calculated my odds, and I’m fine with the car that I have.”
Then, he and I pushed up on the garage door. We couldn’t open it by just pushing up, so Dad said, “Get the ladder and pull on that red tag on the chain. And be careful; don’t fall off!” I put the ladder within reach of the pin and pulled on it. Dad yelled, “I’ll be moving the garage door. Let go when the door opens.” He grunted as he pushed, but as soon as the door nudged an inch, Dad told me, “Let go and get off that ladder. Go get a shovel.” As I walked back to grab two shovels, Dad had pushed the door open with one move. He said, “That’s what WD-40 will do for you. Lubricating metal is very important.”
I noticed that the snow accumulated up to my knees, but then dropped off to my feet a yard or so past the garage door. Dad said, “Forget it! We won’t be able to get out of here through the garage.” After Dad and I pulled the garage door down, with help from the ladder, I went inside, passing through the laundry room into the kitchen. I sat down at the round table as Mom had already gotten me my Alpha-Bits cereal in a bowl, with milk and extra sugar. I began to eat, and then heard groaning from the bedroom hallway.
I looked over, and saw one of my sisters walking over with her curly-haired head down, and moving like a zombie. Her pink nightshirt with flowers looked stained with a mix of colors. As she approached the kitchen, I backed off. She sniffled and sounded terrible. This was Sadie, but she usually doesn’t act like this.
She moaned, “Mom, I couldn’t…get to bed last night.” She covered her mouth as she sneezed, and continued, “My nose was stuffed… and I… was coughing and my… stomach hurts.” Her face looked completely pale.
As Mom turned her attention to Sadie to take her temperature, I went to the front door and opened it. It looked like there were only about three inches of snow, but it got deeper away from the porch. When I came back to the kitchen, I overheard Mom saying, “…in bed, and if you don’t feel better, we could take you to the doctor’s office.”
I finished eating my Alpha-Bits and listened to the radio. The weather forecaster announced, “Today, flurries may continue, but they will end by noon. One inch of additional accumulation is expected for a storm’s total of six to eight inches. The high will be in the lower 20’s, with winds calming down.” I asked Mom, “Can I go outside to the park? My friends always play there after snowstorms.”
“I’ll let you go. Don’t forget to do some chores when you get back, and if you get too cold, come back. I don’t want another person sick like Sadie.” I thought, I won’t get sick. I know when enough is enough.
“Can I get those tennis racquets to wear?”
Mom looked at me, dumbfounded, before understanding what I meant. “Oh, snowshoes? I guess so; I don’t want you falling into a deep drift of snow.”
I struggled to put on the snowshoes, but once I did, I leaped into the outdoors. Past the tree, I took a right and tried out my sled right away. I slid down the hill on Fir Hollow Lane, all the way from 5100, my house, to 4800, at the bottom of the hill. I yelled, “Yippie!” as I went down the hill. No cars were on the street, and it was fresh snow. I could see the sparkles as I slid. I decided to do this a few more times. After I went down this hill for the fourth time, I noticed a snowball fight in Cripple Creek Park, across Beaver Creek Lane.
I saw my best friend Mike throwing snowballs in a clearing near a volleyball net. He’s only twelve years old, but he’s already 6’1”. I hear that his parents want him to play basketball, but he doesn’t want to, because he hated playing for the YMCA. He always happened to be on the losing teams, and he wanted to win. He caught me from the corner of his eye and said, “Ralph! I’m in a snowball fight with these boys, and I’m short a person. Will you join me?”
“For sure!” I said. I saw that Mike also had a friend on his side, Harrison. He wore snowshoes like me, and I couldn’t tell what he looked like, because his mom and dad covered him thickly in a black snowsuit, leaving nothing exposed. We decided to start over, with us three against these three kids.
Before starting, Mike said to one of our opponents, “Here’s the rules for our game. The in-bounds area is this clearing. Three hits and you’re out, and hitting a person in the back or face doesn’t count. Announce how many hits you’ve taken when someone yells ‘Score.’ Also, if a person falls down, it’s cheating to hit them with a snowball.”
I recognized our opponents from gym class. We had a day when we played dodgeball, and these three kids eliminated everyone quickly. They were Lewis, Jason, and Christopher. Christopher led them, and was very agile. His snowsuit showed a dragon design, but it didn’t scare me. Lewis and Jason were identical twins. They had black hair with buzz-cuts, and their parents both experienced the military.
The teams stood a large distance apart, and Mike said, “Ready? BEGIN!” I rolled a snowball and ran in my snowshoes toward Lewis. He dodged it easily, and then threw a snowball toward my left leg, hitting me. I thought, No! I can’t let down my teammates. However, I quickly saw that I was going to have the most trouble with this snowball fight of any of the six. I don’t anticipate others’ moves, because I have no reason to; I don’t play any organized sports. I simply thought that it was fun to treat it like a sport.
I wanted to get Lewis back. But I had to avoid the other snowballs, since any hit, even from a friend, counts toward the three. I saw Jason throw a snowball, but slip and fall after throwing it toward Harrison. I thought, Wait… I can get him on the side after he gets up! I moved in a circle, and rolled up a snowball as he got up. Then, I belted him and taunted, “Gotcha!” He gave me an evil look and ran toward Christopher. Lewis and Mike had just thrown snowballs at each other, which hit in midair and broke apart.
Harrison had taken off toward Lewis, and they ran in circles trying to get each other. However, when Lewis threw the snowball, it went off in a straight line from the circle, and got Mike from the side. He exclaimed, “Ack!” and looked over to see Harrison lead a throw into Lewis’s leg. Lewis fell down and his snowsuit got covered in white. Christopher yelled, “Time out and Score!”
I announced, “One.” At the same time, Lewis and Jason said, “One” in their own voices. Christopher said “Zero” confidently. Mike yelled, “Two” and Harrison chimed in “One.” Back in our group, Mike instructed us, “I’ve seen them play dodgeball before. They’re not playing their hardest yet. We need to finish this quickly, or we’ll lose.” We slapped hands and stood in line. Lewis, Jason, and Christopher stood in a “V” formation instead, with Christopher at the vertex.
Christopher started us, and then I prepared a snowball to throw. I had my eyes set on Christopher, and wound back. Upon release, some dog ran across and intercepted my attack. However, it looked like a hard hit. The dog didn’t whimper, but instead looked at me and jumped up, snarling. It was a black dog that looked lithe. As I started running away, screaming, I ignored the snowball fight until a girl walked up, saw the dog, and said, “Snyder! Get back here!”
As I turned around, I saw that Christopher had hit Harrison. I slid back to the center, and my partners were preparing to throw snowballs. They looked at me and I saw the intent look in their eyes that they get in gym class. Knowing what this meant, I rolled a snowball and followed in line: first Harrison, then Mike, then me. I looked at Christopher, Mike faced Lewis, and Harrison faced Jason. As we all threw, Mike and Harrison connected their respective shots, but Christopher ducked and avoided my shot. I said, “Why must it be that way?”
Lewis and Jason looked at us and got back into a “V” formation with Christopher. I told my teammates, “We should go after Christopher. He’s still got nothing!”
However, they ignored me as I went on my plan. I looked at Christopher and threw a lob, but not only did that miss Christopher, but Mike stepped toward Christopher, and my snowball hit him. Mike mumbled to himself as he sat down, cross-legged. Harrison and I went after Christopher together, and we threw snowballs at him. He called, “Lewis!” and “Jason!” to have them for him. Mike said, “You’re such a coward, Christopher!” and then declared, “Score! Three.” In turn, Christopher, Lewis, Jason, Harrison, and I announced, “Zero,” “Two,” “Two,” “Two,” and “One,” respectively.
I caught Lewis out of the corner of my eye, and threw a snowball toward him. Again, he jumped out of the way while attacking at the same time, hitting me. He said, “You don’t think, do you?” At the same time, Christopher and Jason teamed up on Harrison, who couldn’t dodge both. He said, “Ralph, you have to think here. We can still win!” as he sat down, making a snow angel in indignation.
I suddenly realized, “Aha! I know what I can do.”
I rolled up snowballs in both hands, and caught Christopher, Lewis, and Jason forming a “V” again, ready to throw. As each of them threw, I jumped out of the way and took a shot at Christopher to raise his score. However, my poorly-aimed shots hit Lewis and Jason, which put them at three. Only then did it dawn on me, It’s better that it’s one-on-one.
Christopher said while making a medium-sized snowball, “You’re not going to win alone. Come on! I can take up to two more before I go hard on you.” As he stood erect a small distance away from me, I retorted, “Christopher! I want to win this for my friends the hard way.”
“Suit yourself. You’re not going to last much longer.”
After he said this, he threw a snowball at me. Using my snowshoes, I slid out of the way and scooped up snow as I went. I packed it tight and tossed the snowball at Christopher, and it hit him in the arm. This startled him, and he yelled, “Aaah!” and lost grip of his snowball. It fell to the ground, but kept its round form.
I tried this again, but I got too close. Christopher lobbed that snowball as I threw it toward his other arm. I couldn’t see it coming, and just as I extended my arm, Christopher’s snowball hit me. Grudgingly, I sat down.
Christopher cackled and said, “That’s what you three get for trying to take on athletes. Lewis and Jason, let’s go do some jogging.” I looked at my watch, and it said 10:30. I thought, It’s a bit chilly outside, but what will Mom and Dad care if I stay out longer? I’ll get out of chores, and besides, they want me to be fit.
I dragged my sled which I left underneath the volleyball net up a small hill to Birch Hollow Lane. This street had a steep hill, and it went for 4 blocks. I sat on my sled, and lurched forward to get moving. I went faster and faster down the snowy street, past the houses that all looked the same. I got lucky, though. I couldn’t control myself and nearly hit a parked car. If I did, Mom and Dad would probably ground me for the rest of the year.
Once I reached the bottom of the hill, I couldn’t stop and wiped out on the curb on Crooked Creek Lane. As I stood up and brushed myself clear of the snow, I noticed a man looking at me. He looked strangely familiar, because I had never seen an afro anywhere else except for my math class. He even wore his Huskers coat, which made me think, Is this Mr. Holmsmeier?
The man said, “Is that you, Ralph Den Hartog? It’s me, Mr. Holmsmeier.”
“What is going on here? What are you doing?”
“I tried to call your house earlier this morning. You weren’t there, so I left a message with your sister. I’ve worked through several years of school, and the students always get bored on snow days. I can do something so that won’t happen. I want the class to do exercises one through twenty in section 5.3 of the math book. I will collect it tomorrow.”
I was too flabbergasted to speak. As he walked off, I realized, Oh, no… I left my math book at school, and it’s locked when there’s a snow day! I’m doomed! As I carried my sled up the hill, I also started to get cold. The excitement of the snow day had suddenly dissipated, because I now had a responsibility that I couldn’t do… wait! The website for our textbook should have the problems on it.
When I got home, I saw that Gladys was in the kitchen. I snuck around the back way to reach the basement, and headed down into Dad’s study. Dad had previously forbade me from using his computer, but I had no choice now, as I needed to get this math homework done. I opened America Online and logged in as RDH, and keyed in the password ******. As the thing dialed up, I started biting my fingernails, because I feared that Dad would find out.
The connection succeeded, and I typed in the URL http://www.hought when suddenly, the basement door opened and Dad came downstairs, seemingly in a rage. He saw me and barked, “Ralph! What have I told you about using the computer?”
“But I need it for my math homework.”
“Your teacher said it’s from the book. This must mean that you either forgot your book or are lying to me. Whichever it is, you’re grounded for the rest of the day. Go to your room!”
I started crying, but it didn’t move Dad. He continued, “Listen, I need the computer to look up information about pneumonia. That’s what Sadie has.”
I trudged my feet up the stairs and slowly walked into my bedroom. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV or play any games, so I’m stuck combing my hair.
Today is the fifty-fifth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes seven weeks and six days.
A partial list of other responses to this prompt (current as of 18:19 on 24 February 2014):
- Care to Dare | Rima Hassan
- BFF | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
- Tinkerbell’s home | Perspectives on life, universe and everything
- Daily Prompt: Shake It Up- Family | Journeyman
- Brent’s Ten Dollar Idea And The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
- Daily Prompt: Shake It Up | Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
- Prayer for Faith | Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | likereadingontrains
- Happy Birthday to Me | Knowledge Addiction
- Daily Prompt: Ten Minutes of Nothing | Under the Monkey Tree
- Twelve | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
- Twelve: Daily Prompt | alienorajt
- Daily Prompt – Reckless – Broken |
- My Day. | Crossroads
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | seikaiha’s blah-blah-blah
- DP Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | Sabethville
- Birthdays | Sinister Pacifism
- Twelfth birthday | Sue’s Trifles
- Birthday cake | dandelionsinwind
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | littlegirlstory
- Childhood Birthday Bashes | Anecdotes | WANGSGARD.COM
- Reckless: Daily Post | Destino
- Shake It Up: Twelve | A Patchwork Life
- Never having had a birthday party I worry about how to throw one for my son « psychologistmimi
- The amazing recollections of a nothing birthday for your reviewing pleasure. | thoughtsofrkh
- Wendy Karasin – Musings of a Boomer
- Daily Prompt: Shake It Up-Reckless | My Father’s Garden
- A Gloomy Birthday. | Asta’s Space
- Daily Prompt: Shake It Up! « Mama Bear Musings
- 54/365 reckless | @vannilla
- A blown-out candle | MC’s Whispers
- Daily Prompt: Shake It Up | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss
- In my pink B’day dress | Tale of Two Tomatoes
- Swinging in the Air | Flowers and Breezes
- BIRTHDAYS AND OTHER DAYS OF JOY | SERENDIPITY
- Too Dull To ‘Shake It Up’ | Cats, Coffee, And Life At Random
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | Of Glass & Paper
- Shake It Up! My Brain Has No Memories Of My Twelve Birthday. | Lisa’s Kansa Muse
- Daily Prompt: Being Twelve! | All Things Cute and Beautiful
- Happy Birthday Chump! | Views Splash!
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | Sued51’s Blog
- I’m a Dull Boring Person… on a Good Day. | My Author-itis
- In which I know nothing at all | Infinitefreetime
- At home | Life is great
- I’m not 12 and it’s not my birthday, but thanks anyway! | Celebrating Time
- Bare in the Woods | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
- Happiness: Then and Now | snapshotsofawanderingheart
- Shake Yo’ Booby! | Beez Giftz
- A system of Awesomeness | thejimmieG
- Reckless | The Silver Leaf Journal
- Reckless | The Land Slide Photography
- Shake it up: practice kindness | Emotional Fitness
- The Careless Whisper of a Good Friend… | Rose Red Stories
- My World: My Eyes – Earth’s Candle | Dibbler Dabbler
- I think i have to lie | The Bohemian Rock Star’s “Untitled Project”
- Twelve year old | Emovere
- Birthday magic | A picture is worth 1000 words
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | Basically Beyond Basic
- I turned 12 and then 13 and then 16 and now I’m 43
- wrecked more or less | peacefulblessedstar
- No Thanks, I Don’t Celebrate My Birthday | Schizo Incognito
- The Big 1-2 | Making Life an Art
- A smile for a present: Daily prompt. | one hundred thousand beats per day
- Twelfth Birthday (Daily Prompt) | Ana Linden
- DP: Shake it up | Random Fool in Thought
- Are You There, God? It’s Me… | Kosher Adobo
- a moment in time | In The Moment
- You’re 12 years old. It’s your birthday. Write for ten minutes on that memory. GO. | askgrampa
- Daily Prompt: Shake it Up | Occasional Stuff
- Reckless | La Gatita Oscura
- shake it up | yi-ching lin photography
- Do you want a memory or a present? | The Book of Shayne
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was nominated for awards from Alienora’s blog, in the sense of a guest post exchange. I wrote a post on her blog regarding our obsession with numbers, and also invited her to send me a guest post. Well, this work is her take on dance, music, and lore… and its applicability to today’s society and world.
This is the first time that I have hosted a guest post on my blog. I will still count this as a post for M.M.X.I.V., because guest posts show an outreach to the community. It can also forestall blogger’s block for a day, even though I am not suffering from that at the moment. 🙂
Without further ado, here is “Dance, dance, dance, little lady!”
As an eight year old, I read fairy tales avidly. In the warm children’s room of Bury Knowle Library, there was an entire shelf crammed with magical books: Grimm’s, of course, and the delightful rainbow coloured books of folk stories.
My imagination was fired by the sparks of these stories. I dreamed spells and princes, castles, dragons, witches and talking animals. Monsters and sorcerers skittered, blundered and wand-waved just out of sight.
I KNEW, with a child’s certainty, that these tales were TRUE; to me, it was obvious. And, in a sense, I was right. Mythology reflects psychological verity; it dips into the Collective Unconscious; it celebrates our human need to pass colour and legend, myth and warning down from one generation to the next.
I have always loved the image of the Mead Hall, the Bard – and the power and mystery of Story. I am so pleased that there are still Storytellers in our society, and that the Bard, in the magical sense, maintains Taliesin’s long tradition.
Do you recall a tale entitled ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’? This one fascinated me. It still does because of its symbolism and link with the Fey. In terms of numerology, this is a clear departure from the more conventional threes with which so many of Grimm’s stories are littered. But twelve is richly imbued with symbolic value itself: The Star Signs, the clock face, the months of the year, the Twelve Days of Christmas, the cusp between childhood and adolescence, innocence and experience, girl and woman, boy and man, our reality and that of the Fey.
I could analyse the whole sequence of events in great depth – and it is very tempting, for this is something I love to do – but, my message lies beyond the purely academic.
I shall not, on this occasion, be delving into my Dictionary of Symbols!
The strands I wish to pull from this story are threefold: The dancing itself, the englamouring of the girls and their connection with so many legends, songs and poems concerning the Fairy Realm.
Music and dance free us from the constraints of body and mind. We lose ourselves in their seductive rhythm, their blood intimacy as D.H.Lawrence put it so beautifully. When I play my fiddle, or the recorder, I go into what I can only describe as a trance. It is as if the music takes over and that connection between head, ear and fingers is so intense that I become lost to other stimuli.
The same happens when I leap onto the dance floor. I am in no sense graceful or ballet-trained, as anyone who has watched me in action will attest to only too readily! Possessed is more like it!
When I hear that sexual thumping beat, I, like those twelve dancing princesses, am unable to resist the pull of my own body, even if it means that my metaphorical dancing shoes are worn and ripped, torn and tattered. I just have to get out there and be with the insistent, life-affirming pulse. Oddly enough, I actually lose myself – my everyday reserve, my ego, my worries – when dancing, and the alternative reality takes over so totally that I am rarely aware of other people in the vicinity: Have, in fact, been known to bang into small children and knock tables over!
Going back to our twelve dancing ladies, they were clearly under a spell – presumably sent by the Fey, perhaps to lure them into that Realm – but also, on the human level, they were responding to the beat of nascent sexuality, as we all do in our cusp years.
The magical properties of both music and dancing are explored in myth after myth, in poetry, song lyrics and short stories from all cultures. One only has to think of Browning’s ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’, of Steeleye Span’s ‘Tam Lin’ or ‘Dance With Me’ to realise that this part of the human psyche is ancient, deep and universal.
I think the connections are more powerful than the divisions, in this as in so many other spheres of humanity’s Tree. The blood-beat of drums cuts across every national boundary: From hide-stretched Shamanic drums to the Irish bodhran, the intention is the same.
We are earth-based, with dense physical bodies, but we also have a spirit, a Higher Self – and I believe that both music and dance are conduits, in a sense, ways of connecting the two, of allowing us a glimpse of the Higher Realms.
So, dance with me!
Today is the forty-seventh day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes six weeks and five days.