The House

Friday, June 24, 2005

Here’s the Thing #3: Your Worth is up, go check it out. Also, Super F*ckers is super f*cking good. Just read it.

Before I get into my story for today I want to talk a bit about karma. I talk about my parents a lot on this blog, they’re good people. I also talk about how we grew up always needing money, my father didn’t make a lot and my parents never really had much for themselves. He’d work two jobs just to get by, 16 hours a week plus commuting. They took care of me and my sister but looking back now, they sacrificed everything for us. Twenty some-odd years ago my parents bought the house we were living in along with the family that lived downstairs and the family that lived upstairs. They paid a little less than 80k for a four story house between Red Hook and Carroll Gardens.

My parents would do for anybody that asked. They racked up a lot of debt and couldn’t get out of it. Little things keep piling on but despite their disposition, they were always there for anybody that needed it. The upstairs neighbor passed away and my parents were forced into a situation where they needed to sell the house because the woman’s kids were forcing it. The house was run like a family for years, and certain things lapsed, like back-taxes, and I had to step up and help them out with that in order to get them to a point where they could sell the house. It was tough on all of us.

Well, they sold the house yesterday. For over a million dollars. And now here are my parents that struggled and scraped to get by and now they have enough money to get out of debt, bank a ton of money and start over, thirty years wiser than when they first got married. And they deserve it and I’m happy for them and it goes to show that sometimes, good things do happen to good people. So, that’s all. Congrats to them.

______________________

My earliest memory takes place in our house in Brooklyn. Danny, my good friend growing up, was sleeping over and his parents where playing poker with my parents in the dining room.

Our apartment doesn’t have a lot of doors so my parents always found ways to compensate. Back in the day, we had this plastic, collapsible, brown “door” that folded down the middle separating the living room/dining room from my parents bedroom. Danny and I were goofing around when we were supposed to be asleep and decided to sneak out and see what our parents were doing.

We sneak to the brown plastic door, split the middle slightly and peer out. Almost instantly I see my father turn to us and, as a kid, he looked like he was furious (it was probably just the adrenaline, my father never gets furious). I fucking booked it, back into the room and crawled under the covers, pretending to be asleep. I don’t remember Danny coming back in the room and I didn’t care, I was safe.

The next morning I walked out into the living room and Danny was on the couch, eating cereal and watching the Smurfs. I was so pissed off because I thought Danny got caught and his punishment was to eat cereal and watch cartoons all night. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I’m pretty sure that is my oldest coherent memory.

The house was my playground as a kid. Only child and all, if I wasn’t outside with the neighborhood kids I was in the house all day while my mom cleaned or cooked. My mom would take me out occasionally; drag me around while she did her chores and once a week take the two mile hike down to the Promenade for ice-cream and jungle gyms. But the rest of the time it was me, my Hot Wheels, G.I.Joes and puppets.

I didn’t have any Hot Wheel playsets but I had tons of cars. I’d carry them around in a little plastic carrying case and line them up on the windowsill in perfect columns. I’d spend hours doing that. Now-a-days, if a child would do that the parents would think he was autistic but for me, I was just an anal retentive perfectionist early on.

I’d put a lot of preparation into my G.I.Joe adventures as well. I’d set up the Joes and the Cobras on different sides of the dining room, putting them in elaborate formations, taking advantage of the washing machine for elevation or the dining room chairs for guerilla attacks. By the time I was finished setting them up it looked so perfect I didn’t even want to mess them up so I’d take one or two Joes at a time and have them fight over Scarlet. As I grew older I just started making Baroness hook up with Scarlet, being obsessed with lesbianism at a very unhealthy age.

The puppet thing was my jam, though. I had a lot of puppets. Muppets, Sesame Street…My Pet Monster (or Creepy, as I called him) was my right hand man. And then I had a bunch of random puppets. I’d actually play with them, throw them around and have fun. We’d play baseball, I’d position them around the table as if it where the diamond and have them play, batting and fielding and running the bases.

I’d pile them all onto the couch and pretend it was a rocket ship (or sometimes a regular ‘ole 747) and pilot them around, fighting enemy space-ships as we darted across the universe.

Embarrassingly, probably influenced by the Muppets Take Manhattan move, I’d even have wedding ceremonies between Kermit the Frog and Mrs. Piggy. I’d line up all of the puppets and marry those two off and throw some of my momma’s rice at them.

And I’d sing Rainbow Connection as they walked the aisle because that song was my jam.

I remember when my father redid my room for the first time. My room was attached to my parent’s bedroom, a doorframe with no door. When I was really small I believe I had Raggedy Anne and Andy wallpaper. When I got a little older my father put up this awesome Star Wars wallpaper with The Return of the Jedi curtains. He even got me a new bed, a big bed with drawers attached to the frame which I thought was the coolest thing ever.

My room had a radiator in it, like every apartment in Brooklyn does. The radiators have this long protruding object that sticks out of the side, I’m not sure what it’s for. On Christmas I got all excited about the lights outside and I ran to get my parents. On the run back to the window I tripped and fell and the radiator thing went through my cheek. First stitches. I remember that so well, I remember the doctor putting this white piece of cloth on my cheek with a box cut out. It’s such a weird moment in the stitching process but it’s stuck in my head.

Cramming the family in for New Years Eve, every year. My birthday party where my father took away my Beastie Boys’ tape because they were talking about drugs. Weeding the yard with my mother and complaining every minute. Dressing up like superheroes with my cousin Tommy and running all over the hallway.

The statue of the Virgin Mary we keep in the hallway. It’s fallen several times and we’ve glued it back together each time. The stairs that shook every time you walked up them. The toilet that never flushed and we had to keep a bucket of water in the bathroom at all times. The ladder in our backyard that stretched up three stories to the telephone wires and how I always wanted to climb it but always chickened out. Hanging clothes out to dry in the winter before we got a dryer and hoping they didn’t freeze, laughing when they did.

The wall that we punched a hole through at least once a year. The sofa bed we broke when I body slammed Luis onto it.

First kisses. First trip to third base.

I had sex for the first time on the floor of my room.

The electronic female elf that was in my window during Christmas time that I was attracted to. Watching the Mets beat the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. The box on the top of the TV with a single knob that was used for turning HBO on or off. Sitting in my room at night, in the dark, with a typewriter. Reading Hardy Boys and horror books while lying on the floor, legs stretched up and resting on the wall.

The occasional mouse, the occasional water bug. Several pets. A couple of family members down on their luck.

It was a good house – I’m going to miss it.

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