Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
“I had a whole box o’ them funny books that were your daddy’s,” my grandmother said to me. “I wish I’d-a saved ’em for you.”
These words still sting 35 years later. I was at my grandparent’s house in Mississippi, sitting on the couch surrounded by my Spiderman, Fantastic Four and Flash comics when my grandmother dropped that bomb on me.
I tried hard to console myself by focusing on the collection of comics in front of me rather than dwelling on what could have been. But I couldn’t shake the longing for that vintage box of “funny books,” chock full of first editions, no doubt, tossed out with the weekly garbage.
Such loss at an early age. It’s no wonder that I never throw anything away.
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Except ” I HAVE thrown things away. Important things. And lately I’ve been thinking about these things, feeling the ache of separation, trying hard to console myself.
Here’s how it’s going so far.
THREW AWAY: I really liked Garfield when it first came out. I remember reading the very first one in the newspaper. I’d cut the strip out each day and paste it in a photo album. If I missed a day I’d ask a neighbor if I could dig through their old papers. Then books were published containing the same strips that I’d collected, so in a moment of weakness I tossed out all of my Garfield photo albums.
CONSOLATION: As an adult I realize that Garfield is really, really bad. Possibly the worst. However, you might want to check out http://www.garfieldminusgarfield.net. That’s really, really good. And it’s all about throwing away Garfield.
THREW AWAY: Snoopy vs. The Red Baron flexi 45 record. I also got rid of the tiny record player I used to play it. How many times have I regretted this? Ten, 20, 30, 40, 50 or more.
CONSOLATION: I still have the first single I ever bought, Ram Jam’s “Black Betty.” I also have the original Disco Duck album AND the full length version of Rapper’s Delight. I said a hip, hop, a hibby…
THREW AWAY: My high school chemistry notebook. When I was little I wanted to be a chemist, mostly because I thought test tubes were cool. My chemistry notebook is/was a perfect chronicle of the death of that dream. I just wanted to mix cool chemicals that did neat things, like make smoke clouds or transform me into a hideous monster. I didn’t want to do all these formulas and crap.
CONSOLATION: I still have my 6th grade Bible notebook. Yes, “Bible” was a class. It contains some pretty insightful interpretations of some pretty incomprehensible Bible verses. With religious doodles.
THREW AWAY: My early spin art and woodburning artwork. The spin art kit was confiscated by 11 a.m. Christmas morning, once my dad realized the potential for a speck of pigment escaping into his hermetically sealed monochromatic world. But he didn’t seem to mind if a 7-year-old spent time alone with what was basically a soldering iron and a pile of kindling.
CONSOLATION: I still have an old drawing of a superhero I created ” The Diamond. Not sure what his superpowers were, I only designed his mask and came up with his name. Both of these based on the principle that a diamond shape is really easy to draw.
THREW AWAY: Punk rock flyers. I saved a flyer from almost every punk show I saw during the mid-late 80s in SoCal. I threw them away, thinking it was a sign of maturity. Later I cried.
CONSOLATION: You can buy them on the Internet. Seriously. You can get Punk Flyer 10-Packs for $8. Sad. Yet consoling.
THREW AWAY: In the late 70s I was really into professional wrestling. Wrestling was still humble and low-budget then. I made my uncle draw me a picture of my favorite wrestler, Austin Idol. I displayed that pencil portrait (along with my Garfield posters) in my room for years. Then one day I tossed it, or lost it, or something.
CONSOLATION: Maybe, just maybe, I can continue to live a healthy, productive, adult life WITHOUT having a portrait of a 1970s wrestler on display in my bedroom. Maybe. I’ll keep you posted.
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