Friday, March 02, 2007

Holy Hammock!

I had a flashback combination a-ha moment today. It made me laugh.

When I was in the third or fourth grade, I was huge. Baby fat for ten year olds, I suppose. Anyhow, my father came home from work with a hammock for the backyard. We tied it up to two plum trees. I was the first one in my family to give the new hammock its inaugural whirl.

I was so excited I hopped right in and my sister swung me as high as she could. Looking back, I was probably a safety warning illustration waiting to happen. But I remember it being really, really fun.


I fell through the hammock. It hurt, and I got grass stains on my big elastic waist banded polyester pants. But I got up and the whole family stared at the big hole in an otherwise bleach white hammock. I was bewildered, having flown a bit from my cheap seat carnival ride, so I asked no questions when my Dad said, "Get in the truck. We're taking this thing back!"

Before the massive takeover of chain stores, returning merchandise wasn't easy. Nowadays, a giraffe could return a used toothbrush to Target two and a half years later without a receipt and no one would bat an eyelash. No siree. This was 1984. You had to give receipts, reasons, and talk to managers. If managers weren't around, tough luck. You had to come back the next day. This was "Jafco." Bellis Fair Mall has cemented over what used to be Jafco-- one of Bellingham's fanciest "everything" type stores. (Think Bed Bath and Beyond meets Good Guys.)

My parents told my sister and I to go play while they straightened out the hammock situation. I'm pretty sure my sister was there, anyway. My sister and I were so close in age; it was like having a soundtrack playing. I can't ever remember her not being around.

The "exchange" took only a few minutes. My Dad pointed at me a couple of times. I can only imagine what the cashier thought when I wandered in, grass-stained and muddied, with a broken hammock that my Fat Ass clearly broke. Besides the pointing and sympathetic half-smiles, I have no idea what my Dad told the saleslady, but it worked.

Whatever happened, it honestly did not occur to me until tonight, over twenty years later, that my weight had any part in the hammock debacle. My parents orchestrated that whole exchange, without blaming my weight, during such a formidable time. Perhaps the impact was I never thought anything was wrong with me, or that I needed to change or be different.

That little memory was a hilarious jolt into a time I don't think about often. But it's these bittersweet details that are the foundation of why I see the glass half full and rising. They're the reason, when I was ready; the "baby fat" came off so easily. Because I'd gotten the message. Nothing was wrong. It was unnecessary to escape myself or be upset with the before.

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