My old friend Charlie Crystle has tagged me (and fellow Totem Pole builder Theo Hartman) with the blogging equivalent of the chain letter, a meme about me. The charge is to reveal five things about myself most people don't know (easy) and that I typically wouldn't blog about (virtually impossible). If you will cut me some slack on the latter condition, I'll dish up a tantalizing trivium or two and go one better by assigning appropriate song titles to each...
1) Tales of Brave Ulysses: I got my SCUBA diver's license when I was 14 and spent the next few summers cold water diving in Buzzard's and Cape Cod Bays and off Monhegan Island in the Gulf of Maine. The greatest treasure I ever found underwater, however, was with just a mask and snorkel and in three feet of water. It was an old, green bottle with a square lip and rounded bottom and raised letters that still read Cantrell & Cochrane's, Belfast and Dublin. It was resting on a sand bar and by the next tide would have been dashed to beach glass on the rocky shore. I puzzled over it for a while, judging that it probably predated the division of Ireland in 1916, but finally figured out what it was from an unlikely reference: Jame Joyce's Ulysses. One of the signs passed on Bloom's Day was for Cantrell & Cochrane's's Ginger Beer.
2) Give Me Back My Bullets: I was the good kid in Kindergarten who got stuck with the unenviable task of escorting the bad kids down the long hall and up a flight of stairs to the Principal's Office. Our principal at Tatnuck School in Worcester MA was Mr. Hickey, an avuncular blond version of Dick Van Dyke, but the Assistant Principal and 6th Grade Math teacher Mr. Macalaugh (sp?) was his hatchet man and scared the pants off the guilty and innocent alike. One day he found me in the schoolyard with the spent shell casing of a heavy caliber round (this was Worcester, after all) and promptly dispossessed me of my brass treasure. I somehow got it into my head that maybe he would accept a portrait (in crayon) of himself in exchange for the contraband munition and my Kindergarten teacher encouraged my attempt. I drew a sort of sideways football with hair and small round glasses and walked up to his office. All the big kids looked at me as I piped up in a quavering voice: "Mr. Macalaugh, if I give you this picture I drew of you, will you give me back my bullet?" There was a long silence as he examined my masterwork, and then he tossed me the shell and I was out the door like lightning. I have excelled at diplomacy ever since.
3) Needles and Pins: I pierced my own ear with a sterilized safety pin when I was 15. I wore a small gold hoop off and on through college, and while I have no cause or desire to do so today, the hole is still there if I should change my mind. Back in my day, when only sailors and bikers had tattoos and folks still looked for meaning in the choice of earlobe to pierce, I thought my earing very nonconformist.
4) I Shot the Sheriff: I was a huge fan of westerns and western history in grade school, before I found my true passion for the period of the American Civil War. I had all the Johnny West Action figures and ever the revisionist historian, used to play Pioneers and Native Americans and leave the cowboys to their cattle. I had four treasured vinyl records of classic Lone Ranger episodes, and true to my age and gender I thought it the deal of the century last year when I bought 10 CDs on Ebay with 1061 mp3 recordings of Lone Ranger radio shows for $10 plus shipping. Now if only my truck had an mp3 player, or even a working radio...
5) Take the Money and Run: I was saved from serious violence at the hands of the nephew of "Cadillac" Frank Salemme of the Boston mob by a large African American man who turned out to be Mo "the Hit Dog" Vaughn, future star of the Boston Red Sox but then in Triple A. Really, I couldn't make this stuff up. I was clerking at a package store in Wareham MA before I went to Africa when in walked these two and set something like $50 of booze on the counter. Frank's nephew (also Frank) said to put it on his tab, and like a dutiful employee I said I did not have the authority to do so. Mo pulled him back and out of the store when he came over the counter at me. I called my boss, who said: "Timmy, you did the right thing. Now lock up the store and someone will come and get you and take you home. Take a week or two off, with pay, and I'll straighten this thing out." They viewed the surveillance tape and confirmed that I had acted without giving offense and that my savior was Mo Vaughn, who had played for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League before joining the Sox and that is how he must have met Frank. I left for Africa three weeks later and that was that. Except that I've now blown my cover. Damn.
Thanks, Chuck. Now I've gone and worried my mother. As for tags of my own, why not ask my erstwhile 2nd cousins Tigerhawk and the Charlottesvillain, old friends overseas Ben of Namibia Notes and frumiousb, and the esteemed Geoffrey Chaucer?