Sunday, August 12, 2012

My rough childhood described

By Hank James

Hank James is standing in for John Guerra, who is on vacation this week. John will return next week.

It has been a slow news week. Yes, the primary elections in the Keys are Tuesday. That's correct, three candidates don't look so good now that their arrests have been made public.
But I think it's important to talk about my childhood. That's right, me, Hank James' childhood. John said I could write about anything I wanted, so that's what I'm doing. You may not believe what I'm about to tell you, but please hear me out first. It was a rough childhood.
You've seen the wording on toy packaging, "Warning: Choke Hazard for Children 3 Yrs. Old and Younger," right? Leggos; little green plastic army soldiers; small rubber firetruck tires; and detached eyes from Teddy bears--all these items at one time or other were stuffed into my mouth when I was just a toddler. The reason? Before I could walk across a room, I was a child toy tester with the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
I remember little of my time with the CPSC, except for the adults with clipboards who came to my little cage each morning to let me out. The gray steel desks in the big room under the phosphorous lights are burned into my memory.
The tests made for a long day. I was outfitted with a bib and put on a large blanket spread on the floor in the basement of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C. A government employee known as a "Choking Test Administrator" would grab the back of my neck and force an Etch-a-Sketch knob into my mouth and hold my jaw shut as I fought to spit it out. If it did not go down, then there was no choke hazard. That's how Etch-a-Sketch's were approved with those big, black knobs.
That job lasted until I was 3, when I was too old by U.S. Government standards to be a child toy tester.
Except for those few years, my childhood was pretty normal. Until I turned 4 and my family moved. I'll never forget waking in that empty house, the only answer to my screams for my mother being the "drip-drip-drip" from the kitchen faucet. The windows were bare, stripped of the long curtains my mother had sewn before I was born.
I was left alone for a day and a night in that forlorn house until Sparky, the family dog my parents also felt was too much trouble, began barking at the bay window. Neighbors were aghast at the sight of the dog, frightened to death, alone in that house.
One lady grabbed Sparky, took him across the street to her house and fed him, giving him a nice, soft dog bed to sleep in. I was left in my empty house, playing with blocks and sleeping on the bare floor, until another neighbor, looking to see if my parents left behind any silverware or pots and pans, saw me and called the police.
I beat the loitering rap but was arrested for burglary and spent the next 13 years in a Maryland reform school. When I was 17, they put me in a car with a giant back seat and drove me into the country where they let me out on the side of a dirt road. As the state child services car drove into the distance, I knew there was only one thing to do: Find a farmhouse.

And my parents answered the door! They wouldn't admit it at first, but I remembered them, all right. The meth-lab smell in the farmhouse brought to the forefront my first memories of my mother. I suddenly remembered what she was like back when I was less than a year old, when she would hum quietly in the kitchen while breaking the sulphur off matchsticks. My parents didn't apologize to me for abandoning me, but did offer me a job delivering their product to trailer parks along the Mason-Dixon Line.
I did that for awhile, but met a nice church girl named Joyce and she taught me how bad I had been behaving and that I was not doing right by the Lord. I went to church every Sunday and got to cleaning up my life. Believe it or not, Joyce suggested we get married and have some little Hanks of our own. Imagine that! She is expecting soon.
I love my wife, but I have to tell you, she is not what you might call "attractive" in the traditional manner. Maybe in a Four-H handbook one might find the right term for her beauty. She's about 445 pounds, has brown patches on her skin and she's not livestock. During the first weeks of our marriage, animal control was to the house because neighbors reported a large cupricaba, or whatever those two-legged animals are called that everyone blames for cattle mutliations in Mexico. It wasn't one of those, that was my wife. Once neighbors got to know her, they stopped calling the Agriculture Department and the pound.
I also sprung Sparky with the money I made from the government and we are happy. No more running around like an animal (except for Sparky) and things are settling down.
That's all for now. Next week John will return with something more interesting to read.

--Hank James

1 comment:

  1. Hank, with a resume lke this you're shoe-in for the Mosquito Control Board.