Kmart Earrings | Listener Favorite #495
A dreamy map will lead a man in meanderwear to Beaver Lake Nature Center. A misty memory will drift by, a tale of my first arranged girlfriend and a trip to Kmart to buy earrings.
- Tangential Reality
- Who Weekly? podcast
- Hoffman Hot Dogs
- Grape Nuts
Notable Talking Points:
- The many reasons I'm not an NFL Quarterback
- The 4 Wheel Capital of the World
- My ticket to Love City
Episode 1176a – Kmart Earrings | Listener Favorite #496
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Hey everybody, Scoots here. This episode is for our summer favorite series. I asked the patrons some of their favorite episodes that have not been put out in not just a few years but a long time, and this is one that consistently came up and has consistently come up over the years, I think 'cause it has me talking about my first girlfriend and Kmart and a bunch of other fun stuff. So, enjoy. We’re gonna keep these coming out all summer. We got fresh content coming out, and we’re doing a lot of interesting stuff over on our Patreon. But this is just one of those ones that just keeps coming up. It’s about buying earrings at Kmart. So, enjoy. Thanks, everybody.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, it’s time for the podcast where…I’m glad you’re here. You’re welcome to be here. I’m here to embrace you with open arms, to call you in, every friend of mine from around the world. Sleepless or stressed out, whatever it is, I’m really, really glad you’re here. I’m so happy, 'cause it’s time for Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep, and that’s it. Let’s get on with the show.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Alright, hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that’s here to put you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press Play. I’m gonna do the rest. I’m going to try to create a safe place where you can set aside whatever’s keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, travel, noises. Whatever’s going on that’s keeping you awake, whether it’s something you can point your finger at and say, well, if it wasn’t for that giant dachshund or whatever slobbering on my face, I may be able to get to sleep, or the spreadsheet…or whatever. I’d like to take your mind off whatever it is, or at least attempt to.
That’s kinda my…part of my safe place, is that…I guess it’s an intention. I’m gonna send my voice across the deep, dark night, I’m gonna be wearing meanderwear, which by the way, don’t buy your meanderwear except directly from me whenever I get around to making it and marketing it other than here. Also, I thought about this; I probably shouldn’t make meanderwear for the…'cause then everybody would have a sleep…they’d say, wow, suddenly I have the powers of meander that only Scooter has. I guess that would be nice. I’d have to sign…I guess every pair of meanderwear will come with an NDA and an exclusivity agreement, non-compete clause. I want them to have both copper and magnets.
I saw that…I was watching one…I was watching TV marathons while I’ve been editing the shows, and I saw the one for the…one of the things you strap onto your elbows or your knees or whatever that has copper in it. I guess I don’t normally delve into celebrity discussions on here. That’s why you listen to Who Weekly, you know. That’s the show with Lindsey and Bobby. But this is a different…I noticed…I won't even say their name, but a famous football player was throwing…loading bales of hay, and he looked very fit. I mean, very fit. But I said…and I guess this is just my world view; I said, what…is he really loading bales of hay in his spare time? I would be sipping lemonade and…I guess that’s why I’m not a…I mean, one of the many reasons I’m not an NFL quarterback, starting…I mean, there’s a lot of other ones, too.
I mean, I…never mind, I don’t want to get into it. Oh, when I’m…when I do come out with meanderwear, I guess I do picture it like…I guess it wouldn’t be…I guess that doesn’t make sense, 'cause that wouldn’t be meanderwear. That’s an elbow thing. So, maybe this…I gotta take…I gotta go back to the drawing board with the meanderwear. But there will be meanders in this podcast. I just meandered into…that was product placement, a meander. You know, fake…faux inventions. We got a lot of faux stuff here. The F-A-U-X gets used a lot on this show, improperly, but that’s also…that’s just a check to see if you’re kind of listening.
But the whole thing is…the whole thing with the meandering or…I guess back to the drawing board…that’s kinda how…let’s see if I could…oh, let me set the stage and then I’ll try to get back to the drawing board. Let me go back to the drawing board. So, if you’re new here, here’s how the basics…what is this called? Structure of the podcast…first five minutes, we get all the business out of the way, ideally, and then…let’s see, that’s the first…then there’s usually a twelve-minute intro, which we’re about halfway through. If I check my time…oh, a little bit under halfway through. That’s a show within itself, something familiar, something borrowed, somebody…sometimes I’m feeling blue. Not tonight; it’s about 6:40 PM on a work night.
Actually, I am feeling blue because I was supposed to be, right now, watching Rogue One for the second time. This isn’t a criticism, but it was just…I guess I didn’t…well, this…okay, so let’s…let me tie…let me come…let’s see if I can come back to both those things. But so, then there will be a episode after this. So, the intro is kind of an episode. A decent amount of people fall asleep to the intro, or it eases them into the podcast, and then there will be a story or a story-like thing after this for forty-five, fifty minutes. If you’re new here, here’s the key takeaways; you got…don’t gotta take me seriously.
You don’t have to listen, but you’re also under no pressure to fall asleep fast or…oh boy, you should fall asleep by this part, 'cause I’m really give…I’m really…I’ve got…I’m doubled up on meanderwear; I got two pairs on, a clean pair on the inside and a pair that needs to be washed on the outside. That’s how I do it. I double…that way, I double the usable life of the meanderwear, I think, or I’m just double-powered. So, if you’re new here…so, let’s see. So, I’m…and I guess I’m not feeling blue, 'cause I say, well, geez, now I can record a whole podcast episode tonight, and then maybe I’ll watch a little Spalding Gray later, 'cause I was halfway through that, then I’ll watch some Star Trek. So, I guess I’m not…but I guess the thing with the movie plans was that we had planned it out way ahead of time, my brother and I, and we…I never…I had never followed up.
We’re talking…we had planned this…'cause Rogue One…to some of us, Star Wars is a pretty big deal. I think a lot of listeners…it’s true, and for both of us, this is gonna be our second or third viewing, and it was gonna be free because he’s in a visual effects society. But then there was miscommunication, and…anyway, so…but I guess I just…I guess I needed to set an alarm. But these are the kind of things right now…I’m back in the climb-in closet where I record the podcast, so it’s not a big deal. But later on when you crawl into bed, you could be like, man, why didn’t…? Everything gets quiet. You’ve done your…sometimes there’s all these sleep things you could try. I do have certain things I do, but…before bed. I was trying to think of something funny to say, but it’s just extremely boring.
There’s nothing…but so…but then you get in bed and it’s like, why didn’t you e-mail…? You say, well, I’m just…I just…I don’t want to rehash today’s events. I’d like to go to bed. Sometimes…at least for me, sometimes it’s my mind, sometimes it’s my body. Lately it’s just been…my body’s refused to go to sleep like a petulant child. As the hours tick by or whatever, it becomes really hard to say, well, let’s just go back to the drawing board, here. Really, things get weird at night, or during the day, if you’re a shift worker and you’re…even the physical makeup of my body and my bed seems to change. I don't know if anybody can relate to that…and time…I mean, this is space-time-continuum-level stuff, and I know you’re with me. I can hear you. You say, what the heck?
I just want to…usually if my pillows are like this and then I switch the…these pillows will be cooler and then I can…it’s like a pillow buffet, and it’s just not working. So, there is an inability for me, a lot of times, to hit reset and say, back to the drawing board. Let’s go rearrange our pillows and that’ll be it. We’ll go right to sleep. The intensity seems to climb, I guess is what I’m saying, and…I mean, sometimes the best thing is to just get out of bed. I don't know what my point was. I mean, my point is ideally this podcast kind of intervenes and gives you something to kinda put your…you don’t have to pay me any attention. Don’t pay me any mind, either, as grandmothers everywhere say. Also, don’t pay me any bother. Pay me no…what is that? Something, something…pay me no somethings, you know? All those things.
A ha'penny will do, but if you haven’t got a ha'penny, well, god bless you. I think that’s a couple months late. What was my point? My point is, I’ve got two pairs of meanderwear on to try to help you fall asleep. I’m not…I mean, I guess I did contemplate buying a ticket to Rogue One, but I said, I’ll see it again. I’m not too worried about it, 'cause…just…but listen, I guess my thing is, if you heard anything I’m…if you’re asleep, terrific. If you’re listening or you’re lying there drifting, I’ve been there. Clearly I’ve got…I can…I make this sleep podcast; I must…I read so many things about sleep and I still…I can still be there sometimes in the deep, dark night. So, the whole idea of this show is to take your mind off of it, or if not, give you a little company, to give you a little bore giggles or…not a huckle.
I don't even know what a huckle is. I guess it’s what…it’s the plant that holds a berry, the huckleberry. Huckle; that’s a nice…that’s a word I don't know if I’ve ever used in the…huckle. I don't know. I guess…anyway, so, this podcast is meant to just kinda distract you but not to put any pressure on you. I’m here to be your bore-friend, which just means I’ll be here talking for the next fifty minutes. I’ll be here present. I’ll be giving it my all. I think I have a loose plan tonight to read…to put a map to use that I was given as a holiday present. If you’re skeptical if you’re new here, I totally understand it.
This podcast is different, and it is abnormal and…but I guess I say that with open arms and say, geez, this…I’m here to help. So, if you’re new and you don’t like it, give it a few tries or…say, geez, I’m sorry I used up your time thus far. But I’m really glad you’re here, and in some sense, you should be saluted, 'cause it takes a lot of skepticism to overcome to just listen to this podcast. But I can tell you want some help falling asleep, so I hope I can provide it. That’s really what I yearn and strive for, and I’m glad you stopped by. I really want to help you fall asleep.
Alright, hey everybody, it’s Trending Tuesday, and it’s actually Tuesday. Holy moly, I didn’t even think of that. Normally, Tuesdays I don’t record podcast episodes 'cause I have family commitments. But it’s Tuesday night and it’s somewhere between late 6:00 or early 7:00 PM…half 7:00, half…quarter 6:00, whatever you all say. This holiday season, a couple weeks back, a couple months back, I had gotten a co-gift, a shared gift with my brother, Ken, which is interesting, 'cause I was talking about him in the intro. I apologize; I didn’t mean to throw you under the bus, Ken. My whole thing was like, why didn’t I check in with him sooner about the movie? I’m not upset at all about…so, just…this is not a passive-aggressive exercise or anything, because I couldn’t have got a better person…look at this…right into buttering it up.
Speaking of butter, that…speaking of buttering and buttering people up; so, Ken was a great person to get a shared holiday gift with from my parents. They sent us something called a Syracuse Crate, C-R-A-T-E, and the company happens to be run by somebody I went to high school and college with, Tom, and I don't know if I’ll reach out to him in-between…but a Syracuse Crate…I think it said syracusecrate.com, but it’ll…I’ll try to put it in the show notes. Tom’s a great guy. So, what’s up, Tom? So, my parents had got this Syracuse Crate for my brother and I to share for Christmas. What is a Syracuse Crate? I can hear you asking already. Ideally, we’ll do a Real Time Recipe episode around the Syracuse Crate down the road here.
But a Syracuse Crate is a gift…it’s like a gift crate with regional foods from…if you grew up in Syracuse or you lived in Syracuse…that you would…you say, geez, you really can’t get it anywhere else. You know, a little Central New York regional pride. In our Syracuse Crate, which I’ve consumed almost everything and saving one thing for my daughter, came some Hofmann hot dogs, which I talked about on the show before, and then some Hofmann Snappys, which are like Coney Island dogs, which…I don't know what they are, and I probably have this discussion every two years. I don’t…but they’re…but anyway, it’s not important. Then a Gianelli hot Italian sausage, and Hinderwadel’s salt potatoes.
So, Syracuse has really good Italian sausage, and when you live in Syracuse…or at least in my family, the summertime…you eat a lot of Hofmann hot dogs and you eat a lot of Italian sausage from Gianelli’s or Steigerwald’s. Just want to put that out there; Steigerwald’s has got some great meat, too. There’s also a…the can of Mama’s Baked Beans and then a bottle of Dinosaur BBQ Sauce, turkey joints, which can…still not even sure what those are. My mom loves those, though. There was also a map in there, and I guess I’ll just tell you what salt potatoes are, 'cause I don’t want…but I briefly…a salt potato is a small potato…I don't know what kind…one of those little, round ones. I think out here you call them Yukon Golds, but I think this is a different potato type.
A small potato, and what you do is you boil the potatoes in heavily, heavily salted water. Syracuse is the salt city. Playing real gritty in the old salt city, I think they used to sing. Of course, I don't know the actual history of the salt potato. I think maybe I did a episode about it. But you just boil the water in this really, really salted water so the potatoes come out and they’re cooked but they’re incredibly salty, and then you usually eat them with drawn butter and with Italian sausage and your hot dogs and beans. Oh, also it came with Hofmann’s…a German-style mustard, I think. I thank my parents for that. But it also came with this…a old, vintage-style map of Syracuse. At first, my brother…I thought my brother was gonna keep it, and then he said, no, no, no, maybe you could do a podcast episode from the map. I said, well, okay.
Great idea. So, I think that’s what we’ll do. Let me turn on one more light in here and unroll the map. I’ll pause it. Okay, I had to engineer a solution here, 'cause the map is incredibly detailed and the writing and the pictures are really small, and to set…I’m here in my climb-in closet where I record the podcast, so, not the lightest place in the world. Then I always try to be conscientious about paper noises and stuff. This episode…I guess this is a little late, but it’ll probably contain some map noises. But this is a map…a cartoon…is that the right version? Not animated; a hand-drawn…not a character of Syracuse, but I just…and I don't know what year. I looked on it for trademarks and stuff; I couldn’t see anything.
But it’s a big map of Syracuse, and I guess what I’ll do is just kinda go through it here, and maybe it’ll spur some stories or whatever. I’m gonna start in the upper-left corner. Beaver Lake Nature Center; so, maybe we’ll come back to that. That’s a plate…oh yeah, I got a good beaver…oh, boy. Thirty-four…there’s thirty-four golf courses in Onondaga County. The brewery industry helped make Syracuse famous. Baldwinsville; that’s where…near Beaver Lake. Baldwinsville is known as the pheasant/dog capital of the world. I did not know that. We are proud of our state championship wrestlers. There’s the First Trust and something company, some bank. Brown newspapers…I haven’t heard of that. Something park…Mercer Park, maybe? People look like they’re dancing there. It looks like there’s a dam there. I don't know.
Then the Baldwinsville Tri-County Mall…I don't remember that. Some sort of Mid-Lakes Navigation…I don't know what lake…I guess this is Onondaga Lake. Yeah, Onondaga Lake. There’s the Holiday Inn, Sparky’s Holiday Inn. There’s a sign for the WSEN…WSEN must have paid for this map, 'cause I see them on here a bunch. I don't know what station that was, either. So, you say, did you grow up in Syracuse, Scoots? I did, but I lived in a world of my own fantasy and design. Onondaga Park goes around the lake. You see Hiawatha Point, Perry’s Office Supplies, Heid’s Hot Dogs…that was a big part of my youth. That’s in Baldwinsville, North Syracuse. The New York State Fair fairgrounds…the Keno Carnival…ranked second to only New Orleans Mardi Gras. That’s in Jordan. The Kenu…-nonu Carnival.
I don't know that one. Again, I didn’t claim to be a Syracuse historian. There’s a Pepsi truck at the fair, so there’s a little product placement. There’s a guy who looks like Evel Knievel on a BMX bike. Fairmount Fair; that’s also…I could use this for about ten podcasts, now that I’m looking. Fairmount Fair; we’ve done a few episodes from there…mall walking. First mall-walking episode took place there. Then we have Coleman’s Restaurant where I was a busboy and a janitor for a short period of time. I think I did wash the dishes, too, but mostly janitor and bus boy. Let’s see, we see Carpenter’s Brook, Webber’s West Side Inn, Elbridge, the Chicago Market. I can’t read a lot of the writing here. Fowler High School…so, that’s right where…that’s near where I grew up. That’s off of Geddes.
Burnet Park Zoo, I’m assuming; I see a bunch of animals. West Gene High School…so, this map is definitely not…'cause I think West Gene’s closer to Fairmount Fair. Let’s see what else we got. The Amtrak Station, the railroad station, museum, and library. West Gene High said that. The Disappearing Lake; I don't know about that, either. Oldest barn in the country I see on here. Another First and Trust…the Krebs; I think this…oh, this is Skaneateles Lake. The Cedar House Restaurant and Gift Shop, Mid-Lakes Navigation…oh, so, I think companies could pay to be on this map, 'cause there’s even phone numbers for some of these. There’s the Native American Reservation in Nedrow. The lake is approaching fifteen miles long and 300 feet deep. That’s Skaneateles Lake, I believe.
Central Tech and Vocation Center, and then downtown…that’s in downtown, then we have Syracuse Cable Vision or something. Cable Systems. Hotel Syracuse, Paper Poppy, Sibley's; that’s where we would go see Santa Claus. They had a sky bridge between Sibley's and another place. Perry’s Office Supply, Jean’s Discount Craft Supplies. I wonder if the comic book shop’s on here. There’s the Money Towers; those were the two big buildings in Syracuse, but they have a carrier label on them. Syracuse War Memorial, the symphony and the opera at the Civic Center, another First Trust and Deposit company. A building where my dad worked. I don't know…Syracuse Savings Bank was, I think, in the basement of the building.
Will Baumer’s Candles…this is the candle capital of America, they say, and Will Baumer’s…and I do know people that were in the candle business, so…one of my friends. You got something Historic Landmark Restaurant, a Sheridan Inn, Carpet Alley, 2002: Space Odyssey; that’s at the disco. Oh, here’s a place I…let me see if I can read this. Something red barn. That rings a bell. Hirkimer red barn or Harper red barn or something. The Flamingo Bowl has forty lanes…open 1:00 in the morning. Franklin engine company…don't worry, I’m keeping track of the stuff that has good stories. Crystal…I don't see Industrial Color Labs on here. Frankie’s Steakhouse in Penn-Can Mall.
That was another mall that existed. Syracuse Boys Club and Syracuse China…they are the world leader in commercial China ware, I think for plates for restaurants. I think they used to say that they had that at the White House. Learbury Clothes; I remember that building. A factory outlet store, I think they had. MacArthur Stadium; that’s where the Syracuse’s Triple-A baseball team used to play. DR Typewriters, Curry Copy Center, Hanover Square, another First Trust bank, Onondaga County Public Library; I’ve been to those. The cathedral, the Boys Club…I don't see the Landmark Theatre, but that’s probably on here somewhere. Another Chicago Market, another WSEN. The heart of Syracuse country; so, maybe that’s Syracuse’s country station, and maybe that’s why it doesn’t ring a bell.
Chicago Market…another Chicago Market. Song Mountain; that was a place with the alpine slide. I have amends to make with that with my cousin. I ran into her thing. Let’s see…so, there’s just a lot of people waving and walking. Oh, wait, here we go; I see some information about this. Produced and published by something…Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, 1979. Printed in the USA, illustrated by Francesca Profili. Looks like it was produced and published by Achara Inc, or something. Let’s see, WSEN and the University Hospital…I think that’s…no, I don't know if I was born in the University Hospital or Crouse-Irving. I think I was born in Crouse-Irving. Syracuse University where everybody…went, and there’s the dome.
Hall of Languages, Clark Reservation…Conservation Area; I don't think I’ve been there. If I have, I don't know remember. Down to the Holiday Inn…downtown, another Pepsi truck, Lorenzo with a swan; I don't know what that is. Highland Forest; that was the first time I went camping. I went there. Penn-Can Mall; I mentioned that. Syracuse Airport, Hancock Airport…what else do we got here? Shubamiels…I don't know what that is. Central City Business Institute. WTVH5…the first TV station in Central New York. The Art Cellar, Janitor Service Inc, the…Pat Bombard Buick, and Opel…Linder Publications, Syracuse Magazine, Syracuse Stage…I think my brother performed there. Then you have DeWitt and Cazenovia, the Reservoir, Syracuse University Bookstore, Mulligan’s, and First Trust United, and WTVH5.
WTVH5, though, that was…that’s been in a podcast. That was the first time I appeared in front of an audience. I told the sheet-belt joke to the guy…the weatherman or something. Fayettville…have a terrific day. Maps Unlimited, Old Limestone…I don't know what that is, either. Says here, Grover, Cleveland…the 22nd and 24th president of the United States grew up in Syracuse. I didn’t know that, either. If I did, I forgot it. We got some other lakes; Round Lake…I don't know if that was at the Green Lakes. Chittenango Falls; we used to go there. That’s where…Chittenango is where the…L. Frank Baum’s from, I believe. Chrysler Process and Gear; that’s…also says it’s the four-wheel-drive capital of the world, which makes sense.
A sign for Burn & Downs, the original…something…have what you…something restaurant. Where the water flows north, Meriad Inn, Oneida Lake…so, we’ve talked about Oneida Lake on the show. So, let me take a look at this map and see what we can chat about on here that we haven’t overdone. We’ve talked about Heid’s Hot Dogs. We could talk about that, 'cause that connects to…so, maybe we’ll talk about that second, but I got a pretty decent…what’s that thing called? Beaver Lake Nature Center story, so we’ll do that and then we’ll see what we have time for. So, a couple different things about Beaver Lake Nature Center. Now, Beaver Lake Nature Center, I guess it’s near Baldwinsville. I always imagine it on the way to the airport, but maybe…I don't know if it’s before or after the Syracuse Airport.
It’s definitely on my list of things to do. Maybe I’ll be able to record a podcast there at some point in the next year or two and get permission to do that. So, this is what I remember about it. I don't…I honestly haven’t been there in probably thirty years. Twenty-five years, maybe. I don't know if Beaver Lake Nature Center was new or redone when I was in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade, but my memory of Beaver Lake is that it’s a…it’s in kind of a swampy area, a natural swamp/wetlands type area, and it has one of those boardwalks, so you can walk out and go deep into the swamp or the wetlands and be out in nature walking, enjoying the sounds and the trees and the wildlife. So, that’s one thing I remember about it.
I remember going there a few times with my family, and I guess I can’t even…I guess…no wonder I barely remember it, 'cause I can’t imagine my poor parents taking six kids…and I don't know if any of us ever jumped off the boardwalk into the swamp or pushed one another, but I do remember going there, I think, in…I guess I’m not sure if it was fifth or sixth grade, but this will get right into awkward growth…growing up…awkward territory was…my biggest memory of Beaver Lake is that when I was there, I was one of the…I guess it was my first girlfriend, and we were only dating for about two weeks, and I don’t even think we held hands. It was a very formalized thing, and it was due to one of my friends and not due to anything I did.
But I remember I bought my girlfriend a pencil sharpener made of wood at the Beaver Lake Nature Center Gift Shop, and I struggled over it 'cause I wanted her to like it 'cause I wanted her to like me. You might say, okay, Scoots, back it up, back it up, back it up. You have a girl…you had a girlfriend once? I say, yeah, yeah, once, for a very short time, I did. I don’t want to say her name, but it was…there was…and, let’s see, how do I do this delicately as well? I mean, I’ve talked about some grammar school stuff or elementary school stuff on the show before, or grade K through six, depending on where in the world you’re listening to this, or primary, primary school. I think all those apply. I had a lot of things…I don't know.
I don't have low self…I guess maybe…this isn’t about my self-esteem, but I definitely was not — even in grammar school — what the opposite sex was looking for in a mate, even pre…you know, this is, whatever, a decade before you’d be thinking about mating. So, this is only practicing the social rituals. Now, thinking about how…I don't know. I never had trouble making friends, but I had trouble connecting the whole idea, I guess, of confidence and self-aware…those thing…I guess I never had trouble…I always had friends. There was this time at our school where there was two sets of twin girls at our school, and I was in love with one set of twins, particularly one of the two twins, and that was so far out of my league…these were…these twins came to our school new, I think, in fifth grade, and they were stars.
Everybody had a crush on them. As I said, I had a lot of friends, so my…two of my friends were their boyfriends, you know? I believe I can say their names; Pat and Kyle. Whatever…I don't even know what you’d do with it then. You just say that that’s your boyfriend and your girlfriend. It’s just a formality, in some sense, establishing the pecking order. That was just something that made me…gave me butterflies in my stomach. I said, oh, wow…and probably gave me a vis…what do you call that? Not visceral, but you know…probably wasn’t entirely healthy mechanism saying oh, one day, if I…she would like me or whatever. But not a terribly painful memory or anything; just like, okay, she was out of my league. I was the second-smallest kid in our class, and I just…I was the oldest.
I didn’t have any male figure my age or within my age range to say, hey, this is…don’t pick your nose and eat it. Don’t do that, or whatever I would do. I don't know. I don't think I did that, by the way. I mean, I did, I did, but I don’t think I did it at that age and got caught, is what I’m saying. I think I had…anyway, it’s disgusting. But so, let’s see. But then there was also another new kid that came to our school — and other amends I probably have to make — another person that worked their way into the story, this kid who moved in my neighborhood and we quickly became good friends, and I think our paper routes overlapped, and I think I ended up not being the best friend in the end, but his name was Bo, B-O, I think.
I think he had a real name, but I can’t remember…huh, I can’t think…but anyway, his name was Bo, B-O…was his nickname, like what he liked to be called. He was incredibly…he was a new kid. I think he was…he was into MacGyver, I remember, and he was also, I think, confident and comfortable in his own skin, and he could connect with these classmates of ours that we were attracted to. So, he never had a hard time with it. So, at some point, I don't know if one of these two other twins had a crush on him, and he was nice enough…best friend duty. I guess he was my best friend at the time. He arranged it so that if he was gonna be this one girl’s boyfriend, her sister would be my girlfriend. So, an arranged fifth-grade relationship.
Because these relationships didn’t involve doing anything except saying formal titles and calling each other on the phone…'cause I don’t even think you could go…I don't think we even went on dates at this age. Maybe…no, I don't even think ‘til middle school we…there was…I don't know, maybe there was…I don't know. I don't think people went on dates at this age, even…I mean, obviously it would be super supervised, and maybe you kissed on the lips. I don't know, 'cause it didn’t…none of this happened to me, 'cause…so, this is all based on what I was imagining. But so, Bo had arranged it so that I would be this one young lady’s boyfriend.
We talked on the phone and I think part of me knew that this was not because she was…I don't know, this is such…'cause it’s not based on attraction, but not…she didn’t have a crush on me and I kinda didn’t have…I was obviously swept away with these other twins, though I also knew that even these twins were kind of a little bit step above me as far as the dating pecking order. So, I was playing above my…whatever. I was…it wasn’t like I was like, geez, I felt lucky to have a girlfriend that was very attractive or whatever. But I don’t…alls I remember is talking on the phone, and then I remember this gift. But I think this was the second gift we got for them, or I got for her, and it would be the last; spoiler alert.
‘Cause I remember…and I don't know if Bo was trying to be my big brother and teach me these things, but Bo and I — since we had paper routes — we had a little bit of extra spending money, and he was one of the people…I guess we were probably in sixth grade because we were old enough to go to the movie theater and Kmart together. Normally what we would do is we would go to Kmart and then buy candy if we were plush with money, and then we would go to the movie theatre. During the summer…I guess this would be the summer between fifth and sixth grade. So, let’s see, where are we? But at one point we went to Kmart and we were gonna buy the girls earrings, our girlfriends. I think Bo was in charge of this whole operation, and I think he was trying…I remember…I can feel the physical feelings.
It felt really exciting and good to be buying a gift for my girlfriend at Kmart. I guess this was the age…I guess their ears were pierced, the girls’ ears, and…but I guess…what was also interesting is the girl…her mother would later be my teacher. She was a very good teacher, but she also had to throw me out of class a few times just as a…I don't know if that’s irony, but…wonderful people, wonderful people. So, Bo and I were at Kmart, and I can…this is one of these memories that is vividly burned into my mind. So interesting, even the somatic feelings. I remember being there at Kmart, and this was a Kmart we frequented, me and Bo, but also me and my…it was a Kmart near our house, and even…I think…we didn’t go to the Kmart restaurant area very often, but I can remember eating there once or twice.
This was when Kmarts had a diner right in the middle of them, which now I would probably…that would be the coolest thing ever. I went through this streak of trying to eat at Kmarts probably…I guess it was the late nineties, and I was…and I would get a patty melt and I was like…or a grilled cheese with tomato soup, and man, that was living. I guess not…in a non…it wasn’t like I was trying to be ironic. It was just like…it just felt so…not…rebellious is the wrong word, but just…it’s like, alright, I’m eating at a diner in the middle of a Kmart. For the most part, most of the time, it’s good food. It was good diner food. This Kmart had a sit-down…I can picture the…I can hear the clang of the coffee cups and the plates and stuff. But so, Bo and I went on this operation into Kmart to buy our girlfriends earrings.
Now, I think Bo was…he was obviously much wiser than me and knew what he was doing. I think he was spurring this whole operation on, but it seemed like in a older-brother-style way. Unfortunately, if you listen to this podcast regularly, you know Bo and I’s friendship ended up deteriorating because…let’s see, how do I explain this? I had acquired adult materials later on in our friendship from my neighbor, one of the…Billy, who was an unofficial member of the BB Kids. Then I brought those to…the one time I got to go to summer camp, I brought all those adult materials to summer camp and I put them in my bunk, and then kids…I don't think kids paid me. I think that would be the movie version, but kids would get to lie in my bunk and look at these pictures.
Then Bo had told his mom on me, and I could never forgive that, I guess. I don't know. I was a petty person. Like I said, I have amends to make, 'cause I think I egged his house because…Billy was very upset with me, and Billy’s since passed, so Billy, I’m sorry, too. But so, okay, so…but…and also, 'cause the more I tell the story, I realize what a great…also, Bo’s house was the one…if you’re really into this podcast, one night I…the one time I ate Great…Grape-Nuts cereal, I was sleeping over at his house, and that was one of my big life disappointments. I had dreamed of eating Grape-Nuts cereal because I just had fantasized that it would be this delicious cereal. Whatever…just sounded good; Grape-Nuts, and I could never have it.
Then I noticed Bo’s family had Grape-Nuts, so then at the sleepover, I snuck downstairs and fixed myself some Grape-Nuts. Not just a little bit; a heaping, gigantic bowl of Grape-Nuts. I took one bite and I was like, this is the most disgusting cereal I’ve ever had. Then, right after I did that, his mom or his dad came in and they said, what the heck do you think you’re doing? I said, well, I’m eating an entire box of Grape-Nuts, but I decided I’m…and so, anyway, so, we went to Kmart. We were gonna…we were on a mission to buy earrings for our girlfriends, and Bo had spoken to his girlfriend, 'cause he was…and she had wanted these earrings that were also…they were telephone earrings. They were pink or turquoise. I can picture them in my mind. I remember Bo was trying to decide.
They were like telephones where the receiver…the old-fashioned phones you would have at your grandma…not a cell phone, clearly. I think they were…they were too…they were fun phones, 'cause maybe the receiver hung up or something. So, Bo was there, and I think he was like, okay, I’ll buy one color and you buy the other color. I got it in my mind…I said, oh, no, no, no. I started looking at this jewelry and, I think, fantasizing…this is a common fantasy, I think, that like, oh, this is gonna be the gift that’s gonna woo…woo, woo, woo, you know? Also, as you know listening to this podcast, I watched so much TV as a child, and movies, and that really formulated how I viewed what I thought was the real world.
This was the eighties, so spangly, sparkly stuff was in, and I remember I saw these earrings and they were dangly, these…they looked like sparkles and they would sparkle. I don't know what the…I don't know any of the terminology, but they were like three lines. Each one was a little bit shorter, and they were little squares attached to catch the light, and I think they were silver. To me, these earrings looked like they could have…they were like million-dollar earrings. I don't know what the prices were. I know it was cheap, very…Kmart jewelry and not in a case, you know? You didn’t even have to go to the case, where we were looking. I mean, Bo was buying phone earrings. I was kinda picturing them on her and saying, oh man, this is gonna…this is it, man. This is where…love city and now I’m a don, you know?
I don't know, it was just thrilling, I guess, to be buy…it just felt so…I don't know, no, it didn’t feel adult. I don't know, there was an elicit thrill. We bought them; we didn’t shoplift. I was terrified of the consequences of shoplifting. I’d never do that, just 'cause I was…I overthink things. So, we bought…and Bo bought his. Then I remember we…I don't know if we wrapped the gifts or we wrote love notes or what we did. I don't remember any of that, but I do remember that it was…and this is a very…this is as tropey as it gets; I remember I just gave them to her, and her look, my girlfriend at the time…so, this is probably day three of our dating and, I’m not joking, this was a two-week…I think this was a two-week operation. But I remember giving them to her and her just kind of looking at me. Then I was like, are you gonna…?
You know, what are you gonna…? Then waiting the next day at school. The earrings were never seen or heard from again, I don't believe. Oh, maybe that’s not true, 'cause I can see the earring…I mean, yeah, I guess Bo had…Bo was charming, so his girlfriend, she did wear his earrings. Maybe this was around a dance, but I think the dance…that was when I won the dance contest. I think this was the year after, maybe. When did I talk about that dance contest? That was a long time ago. That was another thing that happened to me in grammar school; I won a dance contest. I think that was in Boys’ Tap. That’s a pretty good episode, too. So, the earrings did not go over like I thought they would. I guess looking back at it, I don't think I asked; I said, geez, do you want phone earrings?
Or maybe she even said, get me phone earrings like my sister. I probably asked these questions…I was consumed with…I guess it’s the difference between being empowered and powerless. I was very…a person that was easily given to powerlessness, so I would just say, oh…do…are you gonna wear those earrings tomorrow? I can’t imagine what our phone calls would have been like. I would definitely give them billions of dollars to…even to just…now, maybe watching it would be too depressing. But it’d be really interesting, man. Once the anthropologists can time travel…or it’d be like I wouldn’t even need to make the…I’d just bring you and show you my life.
Here I am, sitting, watching Growing Pains, and formulating how I’m gonna be like…and here I am, watching Silver Spoons and formulating how I’m gonna be one day Ricky…here I am watching Who’s the Boss and wondering when I’m going to meet her. Here I am…that was…Golden Girls; I watched a lot of Golden Girls. Perfect Stranger…all these…these were eighties TV shows, by the way. Or, here I am…so, the earrings did not…they weren’t a hit, and I guess…I wonder…I can see the price tag, but I can’t see the price. I’m guessing…I’m hoping…I know they were under $20, 'cause I barely had any money. I’m hoping they were under $5, but please tell me. Somebody get the Kmart…I don't think they were a blue light special, but…I don't know if they were electro-plated or what, but…so, the earrings weren’t a bit hit.
So, then I said to myself, well, geez, I gotta step it up at this Beaver Lake Nature Center. I guess maybe I did…once…if this was week two, I was definitely — I feel like — imagining myself looking back, that I was a little bit head-over-heels at this point. Maybe I was going to hold hands with her or maybe we were even going to kiss. I don't know. I guess it’s interesting that even as…now as an adult, I think I have this default habit of striving for certainty. It’s just interesting…and looking back and seeing myself striving for some certainty there. I guess I feel very neutral about these memories. They might seem a little sad, but they’re actually not, because I can see myself like, geez, well, I had low self-esteem or whatever, or whatever you want to call it, or I just didn’t feel attractive…I guess would be the…that’s what it was.
I didn’t have confidence. I don't know if it was low self-esteem. It’s just, no confidence and no sense of attraction…of attractiveness, and I think that’s probably something a lot of people share. I think I was looking to counteract those things, you know, attain certainty that those weren’t true through…and luckily I had friends like Bo to kind of arrange those things. Then later, when the dance contest…my friend Chris K, he was the one who got me a date for the one dance we had at grammar school. He arranged that one, I think, or maybe his date was the one who figured it out. But so, I had a lot of pressure on myself to save the relationship here at the Beaver Lake Nature Center, and this is still a habit I can get into where I get really in love with being in love, maybe?
I don't know if that’s the right term, or like…like the wooing stage and surprises and stuff. So, I think I was very heady and I was like, oh, I’m gonna…let me get something nice, 'cause I was thinking of her and I was out in nature. I said, let me get this pencil sharpener. I wish I could…I think it was a birdhouse or maybe it was one of those things where you press the bottom and the bird moves. Maybe it wasn’t a pencil sharpener, but I’m pretty sure it was, 'cause that would be utilitarian. I know it was made out of wood and it was painted, and…so, I purchased it and I was…full thing, and then when I gave it to her, of course, you could see this coming; she said, no, no, no, I don't want…I think she accepted the…huh, I wonder…I guess I’ll have to scan the memory banks.
So, I had had the pencil thing…this was presumably a weekend, a Saturday or Sunday, so then Monday I gave her the pencil sharpener and she broke up with me, or maybe it was just…I gave it to her and…I think this was one of those ones where it was like, someone…the person at the desk in front of me told me, or someone told me at lunch. There was…our school wasn’t 100% like a Mean Girls movie. I remember there was one girl, Julie K, and she was always trying to be helpful, and I think she was very good at respecting people’s feelings. I think she’s married to one of my brother’s coworkers now. But so, she would always go out of the way…so, if my feelings were hurt, she was there as a friend to say, oh, it’s not that big a deal or whatever, 'cause I was probably crushed.
If it happened at lunch, all the boys sat together, so that would have been embarrassing. But I was lucky that I always had friends. I guess I feel like I wasn’t always a friend to everyone. So, I’m like, man, how lucky am I that I had friends to turn to? So, even when people were making…if you were…if I cried, which I probably did…let’s be honest; this was my first relationship and I had put a lot of money into it and thought and probably a lot of imagination, and I had certainty riding on it. So, when it came…whatever the…I can assume it was…someone said it to me from…this is how I reimagine it, is that the person at the desk in front of me in grammar school said, oh, blankety-blank doesn’t…isn’t gonna be your girlfriend anymore. I say, okay, well…and I just…in denial. Well, no, no, no, I don’t believe you, you know.
Then it probably happened at lunch; like, the girls’ lunch table told the boys’ lunch table, and it became a little bit embarrassing, then I became upset, and then someone soothed me. So, I did have people to soothe me, friends, or…so, I was a little…again, very, very lucky. Trying to think…try…I guess I’m trying to rescue the story 'cause…but that is the good thing. Then I…this might seem like a cheap way to do it, but the truth was that I still had this huge crush on this other person. So, I was able to return to that fantasy, or maybe this is a coping strategy. I don't know. I guess I don’t want to know. I kid, I kid. So, what was my point? So that…it wasn’t very long before I redirected my crush…I guess this will be interesting, playing it out…this classmate.
While she…her and her sister were dating these two friends of mine, and I had no chance. My heart…your heart always has a chance. I do honestly think…I mean, I don't look at this from a mental health perspective, but from a coping-with-life perspective…crushes are…I view them as…for…personally, they’re a very important thing to me. It’s part of the seasons of your life. Right now I’m between crushes, and…but even on the Real Time Recipe episodes, I talk about…geez, it’s nice to have a crush on someone that works at the grocery store you go to, 'cause it just makes…it’s just a very…you’re not gonna really…it just makes it better to go to the grocery store. Where if it’s someone that cuts your hair or something, they say, well, oh boy, that’s…that could go…you know.
Or school…I always had a lot of trouble at school. That’s the genesis of this podcast, is…a lot of it is the trouble I had at school. But crushes were, I guess, a coping mechanism. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it through…I don't think I would have showed up to high school, my last two or three years of high school, if I didn’t have a crush on someone to…and I’m not kidding; my crushes made it simple. Maybe I’ll run into them at the hall or whatever, or this will be…that fantasy…constructed fantasy that just had…was barely rooted in reality, or tan…not tangential reality. You know, loosely associated with reality. Made it…say, well, I’ll just go to school today. Otherwise, I probably…yeah, and even in…yeah, because then what happened was…ours was the first year…so, our sixth-grade class was the first year there wasn’t gonna be any middle school.
So, they…'cause the schools we went to…I went to Catholic school and the schools were shrinking and the money was tight. So, then they had…they were cutting back. So, then we went to a larger middle school, and then I found new crushes there. Oh boy, there was another set of twins, believe it or not, and then I had a crush on those twins. I guess this is a pattern I repeat; then they were out of my league even though I had a crush on them, and then at some point I think I even asked, and either one of my female friends was like, no…they were just honest with me. Then in seventh grade I did have a crush on another classmate, and then…even then, I said, well, geez, maybe I just need a girl…all my friends were getting girlfriends again. Then a similar pattern; I had a friend and then I said, would you be my girlfriend?
She said, no, no, no. We’re just friends. But again, it’s that quest for…it’s certainty and certainty of good or certainty of bad, and I guess the lesson I take from that is one, it’s very nice to be able to go into these memories in a neutral place and think about Kmart and the thrill of buying gifts, and look at things in this new appreciative light of seeing, geez, this friend of mine that I kind of terminated our friendship because of him telling his mom, he was a really good friend and he was very brotherly to me. Not just…went above and be…he arranged my first girlfriend. I don't know if you can call it a girl…for the story context it’s a girlfriend. I don't think a week and a half, even if you buy two gifts, qualifies. I think you need to hold hands or kiss as willing parties.
But for the purpose of the story, it was a girlfriend, and looking at these other classmates that would step up and say, hey, geez, I see your feelings were hurt; let me try to help, those are undersold or easily forgotten about when you don’t get a chance to return to these. So, that was a nice thing. Then just to say, geez, that’s…I guess it is interesting. I mean, right now I’m not looking back at it in a sad way of saying, huh…I don't know how you say this. It doesn’t sound a little bit obscene, but it’s like, I was a unattractive young man, and I think most of that was projected mental view than a actual fact or something.
I think especially these pre-pubescent ages…I don't know what an expert would say, but this is way more…this social hierarchy playing out and kinda playing out the roles that maybe you have in your family but also these roles that you’re following…whatever modeling you’re doing and trying to establish this strange social hierarchy…and then also based on physical attributes, you know? Oh, who’s taller, who’s more mature? It’s incredibly interesting, and it’s tough being a kid, I guess. That’s another thing. I’ll hug my daughter extra-tight and be like, man. But you do make it through it. As anything, this podcast and life has taught me is that there’s a lot of interesting things in our difficult times, and they’re not all bad. I guess, can they become lulling and soothing?
I think if you make a trip to Kmart, you could pretty much…man, I guess that would be another thing to put on my time machine list, is to hit up some Kmarts. I think most of them are closed now, but they’re not the same as they were in the eighties, anyway. Blue light specials and diners and all that stuff. Kmart brand and stuff…I remember…I was trying to think…I don't know what it was that had…I was thinking of this the other day; I had some stuff that was Kmart-branded that was really awesome. I don't know if it was clothes or that I bought at a vintage place or something I’m remembering. So, yeah. But so, thank you for listening, and that’s the story of my first girlfriend. Beaver Lake Nature Center…all based on a map of Syracuse. Thanks.
[END OF RECORDING]
(Transcribed by Leah Hervoly)