Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Manipulating Kids is Fun

A long time ago, in a suburb far far away, I was a little kid. Though I cannot recall my exact age, I do distinctly recall being much shorter than I am now. I was probably in the six to ten range. It was before fourth grade (likely much before), of that I am positive, because when the following takes place, my best friend was my neighbor [Cindy].

Cindy was a tomboy, and we used to have a blast playing tackle football in the backyard, as well as playing He-Man and G.I. Joe. This was not exactly a Calvin-Susie type of relationship. She was the one that taught me how to curse and convinced me that Santa was not real (though the title of this post may imply that this will be about Santa Claus, it is not, that is a post for another day (check back in nine months)).

She was also kind enough to give me the painstaking play-by-play of the most recent The Simpsons episode (first season!) on Friday afternoons, since the Draconian Regime controlling the remote in my household had censored that particular show. Ahh, a girl who would play football, Nintendo and G.I. Joe. You can see how no one has measured up to her since then.

Enough digression and back-story. Now that I have started writing this, I realize that when the following occurred I must have been six or seven. The Simpsons debuted in 1989, putting me at the ripe ol' age of 8, and I know that this happened before that, because, sadly, The Simpsons recaps were the beginning of the end, as she would soon for junior high, and leave the poor elementary student in the dust (ok, extremely over-simplified and likely inaccurate, but it will do for our purposes today).

So being a six or seven year old, there were two things I liked to do. Play and get dirty. Usually they went hand-in-hand, but there were plenty of times where practicing sliding into second base was a lot of hard work. Dressing up and looking nice meant one thing: Church. If there has been anything that I have consistently hated from age six to twenty-six it is Church. Sure the reasons have changed, but back then, they were just as pure. Why wear uncomfortable pants and an itchy sweater when you could wear shorts and a T? I may be a godly man today had I been allowed to wear shorts to church.

You can imagine, that when Cindy's father approached me on one fine spring day in '87 (or '88), and asked me to participate in some stupid fashion show, I was not enthused. In fact, I think that was the first "What The Fuck" look I had ever given to an adult. I told him no, simply and emphatically. No, no, no, no, no, no. Had I a larger vocabulary I may have said something like "Fuck No" or "Hell No" or even (had I listened to more gangsta rap and less Vanilla Ice) "[n-word] please."

Had I been a bit older, I would have been well-versed in the whole "No means No" phenomenon, but, unfortunately, I wasn't. Cindy's Father, knowing my naivety, kept pushing and pushing. You know how it works, they keep asking, explaining things differently, and after a while, it begins to sound like a good idea. I may have been young, but I understood what it this ordeal would mean three things: Wearing Nice Clothes and Having Others Seeing Me In Nice Clothes and Missing Out On A Saturday. With those three things in mind, I stuck to my guns, stood steadfast, and refused to consent, despite the fact that Cindy's Father had recruited my parents to begin leaning on me.

Then he started making promises. And one promise made me cave. He promised that after the fashion show, he would take Cindy and myself to McDonald's.

Ok, stop laughing at me. First, I was six. Second, you have to understand the time period we lived in. I was raised in a household where we could only have soda on special occasions. Cable television was a pipe dream. Hell, I could not even watch the Simpsons. You think my parents were big on taking me to fast food joints? They sure as hell were not. We had fast food twice a year; one the big drive to summer vacation destination and on the depressing drive home from summer vacation destination. For me, eating at McDonald's was exotic, the equivalent to eating a $60 dollar steak today.

So I caved. I caved because I liked hamburgers boiled in grease and hollow french fries. I sold out all the ideals a six year old harbors for a $5 meal. And Cindy's Father knew he could buy my childhood for 40 bits.

But we shan't forget the real point of this story. For one day in my life, I was a male model. Walked down a runway. Turned. And of course, did not smile (mostly because I was miserable). And that is just an FYI to all the ladies out there. Me, former male model.

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