The Wolfpack Files

My Life in My Words

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I was at a screening recently for a new movie called Hollywoodland. What the movie is about isn't important, mainly because it wasn't very good. But at one point in the film (which took place in 1959/1960) a father gives his son a present. It was an Etch-A-Sketch. Boy, did that bring back a memory. I remember when I was younger I got an Etch-A-Sketch as a present. I don't recall if it was for my birthday or for Christmas, but I got one and I loved it. I must have been really young, because from what memories I have, it was wrapped and placed under my sister's crib, and I'm pretty sure I found it before I was supposed to receive it. Well, c'mon, if it was under her crib, I must have been about 5 years old. Can you blame me for opening found presents? Finding wrapped gifts at that age is an invitation to open them. Sometimes, even when they're not for you.

It got me to thinking about other presents I got when I was younger. I got a few good things here and there, but as I started thinking about it, I think my sister got the better gifts, and I just took them. Like once she got a remote controlled car. Well wait a second. She's a girl, four years younger than me, and she's the one getting the car? Why did I not get the car? So, I 'borrowed' it from her and used it myself. Of course, we had a lot of carpeting back then, so after not too long strands of carpet would get wrapped up in the tires and the car stopped working. At which point my sister got the car back. I also have vague memories of her getting some kind of Nerf ball. All I really remember is throwing it against the living room wall and trying to not let it get past me.

One time, on my father's birthday, my sister and I got presents. This was back in the Cabbage Patch Doll craze, and my sister must have been begging for one. So my mother got one, but as it was still seven months before my sister's birthday, my mother needed an excuse to give it to her. So, my father's birthday was it. I have no idea what my father got that year - likely the usual ties/cologne, because although we're Indian, we like to give stereotypical American gifts - but my sister got a Cabbage Patch Doll. Not wanting me to feel left out, my mother got me an album. Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down. I liked the album, but I always felt somewhat ripped off since it only had 8 songs on it. Granted, out of the 8 at least 5 became big hits, but still... 8 songs? On an album, that's only 4 on each side. And you have to go to the record player and flip it over each time.

When I turned 13, I wanted to go to Benihana's for dinner. Even back then I loved going to Benihana's, I mean, who doesn't love watching people slice and dice chicken and throw it up in the air? Dinner can be boring, so any entertainment value is always appreciated. My parents tried to make it a surprise party, by inviting 2 of my friends and their parents. Unfortunately, they ended up following us to the restaurant, and as my father got a little lost, we doubled back, only to pass the other two cars. Back then, and for the most part, today, my mother is the one who picks out the gifts for the kids. But every so often, my father wants to get in on the action. I don't remember what my mother got me that year, but my father got me this big stuffed bear, which to this day sits in my bedroom. It was a nice bear. I don't remember what I named him, but he's still going strong. And yes, I realize I was 13.

Lastly, I once got a harmonica. I think it might have been one of those Christmas stocking stuffers, but I really wanted one. I have no idea why, since I didn't know anyone that played, but it seemed cool at the time. I begged my mother for one and there it was. It came in a red box, which was lined on the inside with something soft. It even had an instruction booklet. I was so excited. I ran up to my room, looked at the booklet for .5 seconds and started playing. Nothing sounded right. So I looked at the booklet again, and tried to follow directions. I never realized how small the holes were in a harmonica. And for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to play any particular note. So, as you might imagine I threw it on my bed and never looked at it again. Man, I love presents!