Table Of Contents
1: 1974 - Dave the Skeptic This is one of my clearest, earliest memories of my childhood. I thought I had exaggerated the age until my mother confirmed the story. When I was three years old I was sitting with my brother; he was four. I was at the age where I was old enough to comprehend what people had meant by god, and I had just had an argument with my dad about the existence of "infinity." So I was sitting there next to my brother, and I realized that adults were being deceived, and that the whole concept was nonsense. I turned to my brother: "There is no god." He looked surprised, and somewhat concerned. He asked me what I meant and I told him again, that it was obvious that the concept of god was made up. I thought some more and realized that our parents were either lying to us or were deceived about something else, and I told my brother. "There is no Santa Claus either" (Although I have to confess it wasn't until I was older that I was able to finally disprove Santa - it took me a long time to realize that while my parents kept claiming Santa was delivering presents, all the presents actually had "From: mom & dad" or such on them. After that year we started getting presents from Santa as well) My brother didn't like the idea of a Claus-less world, and he started to fret. He asked me - the new authority on imaginary creatures - what about the Easter Bunny? "Nope" What about the Tooth Fairy? "Nope" And that was the final straw - you see, my brother had just received a quarter under his pillow from the tooth fairy - so my brother started to cry. So that was the end of that conversation. The argument with my dad over the existence of "infinity" was due to my realization that whatever number infinity was, you could still add one to it and get a bigger number. That really pissed me off. 2: 1978? - Dave The Pop Star Most people don't know this, but I'm a pop star. Or I might be. Or maybe I'm just a plagiarist. I'm not sure. When I was a little kid, I discovered the art of parody - or of inventing a song that used the tune from another song. Around first grade or so, I came up with a song that goes something like this: (Sung to the French tune "Allouette, gentil allouette"): Suffocation, a new proclomation, Suffocation, it's the game we play. First you take a rubber hose Then you stick it up your nose Turn it on Then your gone Oh oh ohhhhhh.. There were other verses, as bleak as the first. Whether or not I'm truly a pop star, I'm certainly troubled. Anyways, much to my surprise, I've heard this song or close variations of this song sung by other troubled young'uns. Which raises the question - did I actually write it, or did I hear it somewhere and the subconciously "write" it later? Or is it just a case of finding the obvious, and many people "discovered" the same song. Who knows. I prefer to think that I'm famous. Now how can I collect those royalty checks? Incidentally, in the realm of disturbing childhood songs, I also wrote this jingle for a class assignment (Sixth Grade?): (To the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" Welcome, Welcome, Amphetemines How you always turn me green. Make me go, Up so high. Till I overdose, Then I die. etc.. Clearly I'm poised on the brink of goth-pop stardom. 3: 1979 - Second Grade Troublemaker (Actually, I think this might have been third grade??) In the 2nd grade our teacher made us do times tables when we got in trouble. One of us would be loud and obnoxious, so she'd assign that person something like the 7 times table to hand in the next day. Hey, the 7 times table is difficult when you're just learning math and writing - that's a whole lot of writing for a kid to do! Anyways, I had a predilection for being loud and obnoxious, so one day I decided that I would live in freedom of the teacher's tyranny. I spent hours writing out all the times tables, and then I prefolded the paper so it was easy to rip. Then it was only a (short) matter of time. Eventually, I got in trouble, the teacher asked for one of the times tables, and I pulled out my sheet, ripped it off and handed it to her. This created chaos. She intelligently attempted to ask for the same times table the next occassion, but I had prepared for such an event. For a while she went through more of my times tables, but eventually realized she needed a new punishment. She tried embarrassment, forcing students to sing at their seats. While I wasn't a singer, I realized this was easier to do than writing times tables, and soon everyone else figured this out. She then came up with the novel idea of forcing us to dance for the whole class (little did I know that if this had continued I would probably be a master of fine arts by now). Again, I realized that this was trivial and specifically got in trouble with a friend of mine so we could dance around the room in a mad polka-like frenzy. Soon everyone was simply asking if they could be in trouble as well, and her plan was ruined. I think at this point I gave up, feeling victorious. The class wasn't prepared to continue the mutiny on their own, which is good, because otherwise we probably would never have gotten back to lessons and I would never have learned how to spell. 4: 1981 - Fourth Grade Dreaming You know how you have those dreams where you show up in school and suddenly realize to your horror that you're still wearing your pajamas? That's usually when everyone starts to point and laugh, and suddenly a fish-eye lens view of you pulls back to see everyone's distorted faces. That's what happens in the movies at least. Well, the first part happened to me. I showed up to the fourth grade and I was still wearing my pajama bottoms, with their little sock feet. Except it wasn't a dream. No, really. Not unless I'm still dreaming now. Hrm.. To wake up in the fourth grade. Evidently, I was too caught up in my head with disproving god and all, and managed to forget to finish changing. Nobody said anything, although I was already starting to emerge as the weird, anti-social kid that I eventually blossomed into, so perhaps they saw it as standard Dave fare. 5: 1980's? - The Bear Attack My family was quite the camping family. We'd load up the Ford Fairmont station wagon with tents galore, a huge "kitchen" box on the roof, and head out to a campsite. Okay, so maybe we weren't completely roughing it, but at least we weren't RV camping. We packed our kitchen tent, our family tent, and also my dad's old canvas pup tent and headed out to one of our main campgrounds (in Wisconsin, I think). Upon arrival, we were briefed by one of the rangers that they had been some bear sightings close to the tents, and that we should lockup our food and be wary. Being antisocial and unafraid, I decided to use the pup tent myself. The pup tent had a base about 6.5 feet by 3 feet, just slightly bigger than one person, even as small as I was. I found a spot between two trees a good 30 feet from my brother and parents in a little piece of solitude. This turned out to be my undoing. In the middle of the night, I heard some roaring and digging about. A whole family had found our campsite. It seemed to be a mom and some cubs, because every once in a while the mom would get angry about something and roar at the cubs. They would scamper off and run past the pup tent, and eventually whimper back to the kitchen area. Each time they came back past my tent, they'd linger a little longer, sniffing at the base of the tent, which was inches away from a little boy who was frozen stiff and trying not to breath. Then it got weird. And no, this wasn't my family or some nearby campers playing a prank on me and making animal noises. You will have to remind yourself of that as you continue to read. Our camp "kitchen" was inside a box whose front was closed with a peg in a hole. This was sitting on the campground table, and surrounded by our mesh kitchen tent, which was staked to the ground. I heard the kitchen tent unzip accompanied by grunting. I imagined a bear forcing his way into the kitchen and pushing the zipper open. I wasn't too far off. But then I heard the door to the camp kitchen box swing open. Either these were smart bears, or my dad had forgotten to close the box. And then more grunting and food ripping open. And remember, every once in a while the cubs would anger the mom and get sent a-scurrying, right down the path that led to my soon-to-be-certain death. My dad, who like the rest of my family had miraclously managed to sleep through all this noise, is a bit of a wine buff. So, even on camping trips he brought some wine. And then I heard the cork pop. And a glug-glug-glug as well. Evidently the bears are wine buffs as well. So now I have a drunk angry momma bear in my campsite, getting ready to have the main course of small human boy. Okay, now stick with me here, because this is the part most people have trouble believing, but I swear it's all true. To quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up. After the cubs had sniffed by my tent for the n-th time, the mom came over to check out what they were sniffing. And then I had this huge monster outside my tent, sniffing around it. I held my breath as much as possible and even tried to slow down my pulse. The door was by my feet, so I was calculating my chances of turning around and getting out and running for it in case the attack came. The numbers didn't look good. I wasn't sure if it helped my odds that the momma was drunk. I kid you not. I heard this grunting and sniffling beast actually hiccup every so often. No, really, I'm really not making this up. And finally, after circling and sniffling my tent a few times, the momma decides it looks pretty comfy, and decides to lie down, and that's when the entire side of the tent slowly stretched in towards me. There I was, sleeping (or rather, not) next to this slow breathing beast. And I noticed that it was just about the length of the pup tent, almost 6 feet long, and a couple of inches from the right side of my body. I don't know how long it stayed there. I didn't sleep that night. When it finally left I hadn't heard the cubs for a while, and for the next few hours I imagined sticking my head out of the tent only to have it chewed off by a waiting bear. Finally I heard my dad opening the zipper of the family tent, and I yelled to him to watch out, there were bears around. I didn't know if they had left or not. They had, and finally I got to come out of my prison, and breath full breaths of air under a sun I wasn't sure I would see. Our campsite was a mess, and there were paw prints everywhere. And a little investigation revealed that we had actually been attacked by raccoons. Hold on a second, Dave, you said it was almost six feet long? That's right, attentive reader. It turns out that raccoons in the wild can get close to six feet long. When we lived in Connecticut there was a coon in the small woods behind our house about this size. And finally things started to make sense. Raccoons can open zippers, as well as pegged doors, and evidently bottles of wine. We also discovered that they unscrewed our big coleman water container, took out the cup that was covering the top, and had some tasty human water. And it also turns out they can open car doors from the outside but not the inside, as my mom was startled to discover when she opened the door, and let another scared child out of his prison. That raccoon shot out of the car like a missile, and my mom's heart almost stopped. And then we had to clean the inside of the car. Ugh.
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