© 2011, Mirror Image Edutainment
“Who am I?” I ask myself. If you read my last post, you will already be familiar with Mummy’s household saving tips. This is the story of how I became an edutainer.
With Mummy on a plane to Frankfurt, my high school senior sister, ever the acquisitive manipulator, was always alert for opportunities. Mom hadn’t even slept off the time difference between the two continents when Sis convinced Dad a television set would help her assimilate into American culture. No sooner were we gliding down the aisle in the electronics department at the J.C. Penny’s on Colfax, a retailer I had never even heard of. No sooner were we home, we had set up our wood laminate entertainment center credenza, upon which our new seventeen inch black and white set rested, setting my father back sixty-nine dollars.
It was not long before Sis, named after two queens, not three like Mummy, fought with me over which shows we were going to watch. I wanted to watch Gilligan’s Island, and I Love Lucy. She wanted to watch Mission Impossible, I Spy, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Pushing her 42 inch double D boobs first, she seemed to always get her way. Little did I know then, she was already planning the Mayer family demise. That quarter, Sis’s A grades slipped, and my B’s and C’s fell to C’s and D’s, worse. If I was lost in any subject, it was math. I had never stayed in one school long enough to learn der Zusammenhang, the tie-in of addition to subtraction, multiplication to division. I remember so many of my teachers being uninspiring. If I had no interest in the subject to begin with, my grades suffered.
Dad was many things, but he was not a cook. Every evening he served rice patties, which he fried on the stove like burgers. Sis didn’t miss Mom’s home cooking long enough to introduce us to TV dinners, frozen pizza, and McDonald’s. That McDonalds on Colfax has now been remodeled. It’s an ugly black box with few windows. The arches may be original.
Six weeks later, Mummy returned with a gunny sack full of size 42B women’s shoes “Im Ausverkauf” on Sale, now that we were poor. She remembered a pair for Dad, size 38. mens’ shoes. Over the next few weeks, several packages arrived at our new home in Aurora, three bronze chandeliers, two cloth chandeliers, a modern brass standing lamp for the living room, and two brass wall lamps. It did not occur to me at the time, Americans also had stores that sold lamps, but for Mummy, “Made in the U.S.A.” was only good enough if it came directly out of Uncle Sam’s coffers.
Back in Germany, Mother Christina was worshiped like a star. Kiki they called her, the one who escaped, married an American, completely sidestepping the experience of remorse, rebuilding, and reconciliation her German countrymen and women were going through, like her friend and foster mother Ulli Theyssen, who in Berlin from 1945 to 1948, passed rubble, scraped mortar off bricks, and straightened nails.
“Stein klopf Frauen” they were called, the “Stone hammer women”. They recycled every brick and nail to rebuild Berlin. The bonding that took place between her country’s brothers (the few who were still alive) and sisters, was something my mother wanted no part of. She was happy to let them do the dirty work, and send them an Uncle George care package every month “I’ll send you a care package every month, and visit you on one of my Uncle Sam’s airplanes every year”.
You see, Mummy was not German. She was eine Berlinerin, known for their big mouth, known for having allowed Hitler to draw the nation into war and destruction. Upon her return from Germany to Aurora that September of 1966, she made her feelings clear:
“Up wiss zis television I will not put” she was not happy with the wood laminate credenza more than with the television set disturbing the view of her breakfast nook. But it stayed. This was great. I could carry the set into my bedroom, when no one was home. Which was not that often.
One afternoon, I came home from school to find a blank spot on the credenza, an outline of dust where the TV had lived. Who would take our new TV? Sister’s investigation during the master’s absence into the master bedroom closet revealed the culprit. Mother had confiscated the set, and hid it in her closet.
Sister, who like Mummy, thought everything and everyone was there to serve her, “borrowed” Dad’s keys (and his car), drove to Radio Shack, and had copies made, while Dad hid in his downstairs den, reading. Quietly she unlocked the door, pulled the set out of the closet, plugged it into an outlet, and watched Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I, hearing voices, followed them into Mummy’s (she allowed Dad to sleep there too) master bedroom.
Recently having become a gardener, Green Acres was the place to be. Farm living would have been the life for me. I love land spreading out so far and wide. Keep Alfred Hitchcock, just give me the countryside. I fell in love with Arnold the Pig, and Lassie, but there was no way I could get my way with this busty broad with the oversize glands who called herself my sister, who threatened to tattle on me if I didn’t do as told.
I was happy to shut up, mesmerized by the screen, just to be able to watch at all. This education into American culture extended past mother’s decision to procure a job as a department store fashion buyer. For the next several years, she went on buying trips to New York, four times a year.
Five nights a week, Mother Christina announced she was home by honking as she turned up the driveway. Translation “Youhoo, I am ho-ome. Come carry in my packages. You are young, and young people don’t have problems”. While sis wound up the cord and returned the TV set to its location in the closet, I dashed out the back door and opened the garage door from within. I, der kleine Kavalier, the little footman, jumped to Mummy’s beck and call, each time re-affirming the psychological power she held over me.
I wanted more than anything for Mummy to love me, but it never showed in anything but a but.
One evening while Mummy was removing her jewelry in preparation to cook dinner, she noticed a cord leading from the closet to the outlet. “You are too darn clever” she laughed, as she came looking for us. Nevertheless, up with the television viewing she was not going to put. Dad was alerted, and the set was locked up again, this time deeper, behind Mummy’s boxes of winter shoes in which my parents kept their secrets.
But Sis, ever clever, had two sets of keys made. And the game continued. Eventually, she up put with our viewing once she, too, fell in love with Arnold the pig, Lily Tomlin, and Carol Burnett.
We all have a way of putting things into our body to make us feel different. Sis and I were no exceptions. We were growing teenagers, up and out. As such, we needed more nourishment to complement our television viewing experience.
A voice spoke “Alan, is this what you want to do with your life, ed-u-tain?” I nod, yes. Learn how to save money while your kids are growing. Read the continuing post of this “Who am I?” series, My Mother’s Golden Locks.
There is one life.
This life is God.
This life is perfect.
This life is my life now.
I claim perfect thought,
I give thanks.
And so it is. God bless our schools, our teachers, our administrators, our children, and our American Democracy.