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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Forging Ahead Back In Time

While I was away on vacation, my sister had a baby.

I was relaxing on a small beach in Rockport, Maine, watching a ten-year-old blonde girl stab a hopefully deceased lobster with a stick when I got the typically dry text message from my father:

"NOAH is doing great was born
around 1 today big baby 7 lb 11 oz
everyone is doing great i love you
dad take"

My father's text messages are always the same: factual, uneffusive, grammatically dubious/containing scant punctuation and always, always concluding with one extraneous word. I suppose that, whenever he wants to send a text message, he merely recycles one he already sent, deletes most of it, starts anew, and forgets to delete the final word of the old message. Often I receive texts from him that end in a word having to do with his business-- manufacturing undergarments for sports teams. One day prior to Noah being born, he sent me a text about my mother:

"mommy is a nervous about everything
Now I know where you got it from ha ha ha
love dad phillies"

One thing he has gotten very good at with his phone is taking pictures. My wife and I enjoyed several of them while we were in Maine, sent as attachments to his bizarre text messages ("mom @ noah" [ed: I presume that meant "mom & noah"] "you sister is running away" [ed: the picture that accompanied this text is my oldest sister holding Noah as if he was a bomb slathered in radioactive honey] and, my personal favorite, "mom is high" [ed: I have no idea what the fuck that means.]) It was only upon our arrival home tonight that we were treated to the full barrage of Noah pictures on my father's cell-phone, including two others of my oldest sister holding her new nephew both gingerly and increduously. According to my father, my oldest sister's nose looks inordinately larger in these pictures than it ever has before. He now refers to her as "Pinocchio."

While a new baby was entering my family's life back in Pennsylvania, it seemed only fitting that I should make the acquaintance of an old baby in Rhode Island. Last night, I got to experience my wife as a captivating, newly-minted four-year-old girl, courtesy of some dusty Betamax video tapes, and the perhaps even dustier Betamax player that resides in her mother and father's bedroom and, miraculously, still functions. While we fumbled our way through setting up the Betamax player, which had lain dormat since, I presume, around 1987, when most of those items went the way of the dinosaurs and vinyl bench car seats, I realized that people were more intelligent back when Betamax players were popular. For example, the Betamax video cassette cases were emblazoned with the word "epitaxial." I mean, I can only presume that average, run-of-the-mill 1987 grown-ups knew what that word meant, otherwise they wouldn't buy things listing it as an apparent selling point or virtue. Also, you had to be pretty clever to actually set up the Betamax player, and being Hercule fucking Poirot couldn't hurt if you need to find the tracking dial.

I can't speak for Mrs. Apron but, for me, it was a pretty strange experience, sitting there on the edge of her parent's bed, next to my 27-year-old wife, watching her four-year-old self be-bopping around a totally different world. I mean, there she was, opening up presents that turned out to be not Anthropologie skirts but Babar & Celeste music boxes and puzzles. And, unlike in all the photographs I've seen, this version actually talked! She looked straight into the lens, at me, and she told me about how she went into the swimming pool at the Howard Johnson's and she stuck her head under! I mean-- what a big girl! What a sweet girl. A bossy girl on occasion, but, on the whole, a sweet girl. With her raven-haired father and her smooth-faced mother, clad in the eye-popping duds of the day. Frozen in time and bustlingly alive with motion, all at once. I'm glad the Betamax held on for one more trip down an epitaxial-laden memory lane.

We never had a video camera when I was a little boy. The earliest film of me comes from when I was twelve years old, filming a 6th grade English mockumentary about the Loch Ness Monster in which I played four characters, including the program host, and I referred unknowingly to another character called "Constable Clitoris." Thanks, Monty Python. Fortuantely, my English teacher refrained from calling home about that. Though it was an innocent faux-pas, the more innocent, earlier years exist only in still pictures, and I think that's actually okay. If I could see my beautiful and energetic mother moving around, devoid of her trigger finger and her arthritis, my robust father with more, well, hair, I just don't know. I don't know if I could sit through that without hot, blinding tears streaming down my cheeks. I don't know how my wife did it. I felt a thickness in my throat last night, and they weren't even my movies, my history. I guess I just look at the world differently than she does, and I think that's okay, too. Sometimes it's nice to just sit back and enjoy the world the way it used to be, without obsessing and depressing about what it is now or what it will be in days and years to come.

Well, I suppose it is anyway. I wouldn't really know.

It's okay, though. There are always new memories to enjoy, to someday join the old ones. There may not be Betamax films to preserve in a layer of dust-bunnies, but there are text messages, like the one my father sent me on Tuesday. He's been on a mad dash to find my sister, her husband, and their brand-new baby a house, seeing as they're rapidly outgrowing my sister's one-bedroom apartment. He sent me a text to inquire about houses for sale on our street:

"We just saw a twin near you the
realestate kathleen stupid blond told
me twice on the phone 185,000 i went
there at 5 to c it she said sorry mistake
its 285,000 i almost toppoled her out
the fucking window"


  1. I agree LiLu!
    Welcome Back Mr Apron and Congrats on the new addition to your family.
    Now hurry up and write another blog! :0)


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