As I’ve mentioned before, my book Bones Buried in the Dirt (available from Amazon, Tattered Cover, of the Bookworm in Omaha) is centered around the kind of childhood moments that never fully get absorbed. You know, the kind of things that at most semi-fade from memory and your brain cruelly and randomly reminds you of from time to time. What I’m not sure whether or not I’ve shared is the particular ‘bone’ that was the main inspiration behind the book. To remedy that, I thought I’d share it today.
You see, my parents had a close friend that they’d known from way back before they were married. Unlike many such friendships, they were still close after my parents got married and had children and this friend did not (I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of him dating anyone while I’ve been alive). They probably weren’t as close as they had been before my sister and I were born, but they were still pretty close. He’d come and hang out to watch football games, we’d have dinners together, go on extended vacations together (even camping), and at one point he even lived in our house. Obviously, even though it could sometimes be kind of weird because of my sister and me, they were still pretty close.
This friend even sometimes gave my sister and I Christmas presents. I can remember that he did for sure at least one year, because that’s the incident related to this memory.
The friend had gotten me this toy car. It operated by jamming this ridged plastic strip into the car and pulling it out quickly, the ridges engaging gears inside the car, then setting the car down to race off. The toy was really popular at the time and I’d really wanted one. The problem? He hadn’t gotten the real one, it was a cheaper knock off brand instead. The ridged plastic strip of the real one had a tapered end so that it could be inserted into the car easier, quicker, and with less potential for damage. The ridged plastic strip of the knock off had a flat end that made it much harder to insert, operate the toy, and ended up jamming frequently so the ridged plastic strip would bunch up and eventually break.
“Oh,” I said, somewhat disappointed but definitely without thinking what I was saying, “it’s the cheaper one.”
Of course, my parents gasped, horrified. The friend started laughing, finding the fact that I’d just been rude enough to say that somewhat funny at the same time that it was awkward because he was likely offended and embarrassed. I realized what I’d done even before I’d finished saying it, cringing, but it was too late to stop.
And that’s the ‘bone.’ It happened when I was something like 6 or 7, but I’ve never forgotten. When a situation comes up where I’m supposed to be grateful, even almost thirty years later, my brain will bring this up: Hey! Remember that time that you were a rude little prick? Since I can’t fix what I did, I just wish my brain could forget it and move on. However, my brain is of a different opinion. Sometimes it just randomly reminds me of that incident even when a gratitude situation isn’t present. I sometimes think my brain just likes to torture me with stuff like that.
Anyway, thinking about that incident was what gave me the idea for Bones Buried in the Dirt (available from Amazon, Tattered Cover, of the Bookworm in Omaha). It was the kind of incident that I was trying to build in the individual stories of the book. I know I’ve mentioned this to some people, but I didn’t think I’d shared it with the public at large. As such, I thought I should.