Seems to me this would be a good time to take a break from the Major Commentary Action happening with my last post, What Non-Christians Want Christians To Hear. Before too very long I am sure we will revisit the topic of Christian and Non-Christian Relations -- but for now, lemme offer this bit o' something completely different, which for some reason popped into my head this afternoon:
One of my earliest memories is of lying on my back in my crib, thinking, "My head is too huge to move without breaking something vital. What a bummer." It was awful. My head and neck felt like a piece of garden hose jammed into a medicine ball. And I really wanted to move my head, too. I knew there were places to go out there, things to do, people to see. I could hear life happening just outside the confines of my room. My mom cooking and cleaning. My dad grousing about having to make a living. My sister murmuring threateningly about how nice life around there used to be. I yearned to participate in it all. But I couldn't. My stupid head was so huge I couldn't even get it off the mattress.
As it turned out, I really did have a big head. So big that years later, when I was playing Little Leauge baseball, I had to buy my baseball cap from the manager's catalogue, instead of from the normal kid catalogue all my teamates used. It was pretty embarrassing.
COACH CRETIN: Okay, Shore, whaddaya? An extra-large?
ME: I think so, coach. Probably.
COACH CRETIN: Well, let's make sure. Parker's got an extra-large there, doncha' Parker? Shore, try on Parker's cap. (Parker hands me his cap. I put it on.) Looki' that. You can barely get it to balance on yer head. What are we gonna do for a cap for you, Shore? Pin it on? Ya' can't wear wear that in the field. It'll cut off the circulation in yer head. Yer ears'll fall off. (Much laughter.) Whatta we gonna do, Shore? What are we gonna' do for a hat for you?"
ME: Um . . . I dunno, Coach.
COACH CRETIN: Well, crap. I guess we'll just have to order ya' a cap from the manager's catolog, then. It's gonna cost ya' extra, though. You tell that to your mom, Shore. Tell your mom your new cap's gonna cost you more, on accounta ya' got a head like a blimp. Don't forget to tell her that, Shore. Tell her it's gonna' cost more money.
I hated Little League. I loved playing baseball, though. But not so thrilled with the Fascist Approach to Fun.
Amazingly enough, there was a kid in my neighborhood with a head even larger than mine. Tommy Wrightsman. What a noggin that poor kid had. It was like something you'd see floating down the street in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, threatening helicopters, terrifying children. I think the main reason Tommy's head looked so much larger than mine was because he had such a small face -- it was like his face had just given bloom to this monster growth around it. Plus, his head was inordinately, spectacularly, basketballishly round. Plus his mom cut his light-colored hair in a buzz cut all around his head, so it looked like his brain was emitting static electricity. Poor Tommy Wrightsman. He was a good guy to hang out with. Especially when you needed some shade.
Anyway, that's one of my first memories: lying face up in my crib, staring at the ceiling, being oppressed by my giant baby head. The next thing I remember after that is my mom's gargantuan head suddenly looming over the walls of my crib at me. Her head was so . . . so mobile. And that hair! It was clear to me even then that if her hair had been any bigger or stiffer, it could have dropped right off her head and killed me. And I remember being extremely clear about who she was, too: I knew this was the one from whom I'd come. I remember thinking as I looked up at her, "I know that smell. I know this person. I came from her. She has great skin. Wonderful eyes. Giant hair. Excellent head movement."
My next thought -- and I'm weirdly embarrassed to even write this, but .... whaddaya' gonna do? --- was that if this woman wanted to, she could easily take my life. With her big hands. With her big head. With her big hair. On accident. On purpose. On a whim.
And in that moment I became entirely sure of one thing: Doing everything I could to ensure my own survival meant becoming as cute and as cuddly as it was possible for me to become.
"Goo-goo," I said.
My mother smiled down lovingly upon me.
"Goo-goo!" I said.
For a related piece, see Baby Hitchhiker.