Jude Hardin

Author, Drummer, Turtle Whisperer

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Black Friday

When I was seven, I wanted a Hot Wheels racetrack, and had been begging my stepfather for months to buy me one. Maybe for Christmas, he said, between gulps of whiskey. I ripped a picture of that racetrack from the Sears catalog and taped it to the refrigerator door. No mistake about which one I wanted. In the picture, the cars were neck and neck at the finish line, with a blurry trail of color behind them. That’s how fast those damn Hot Wheels went on that damn track. Engines roaring, crowd cheering, rubber burning. I thought about that racetrack every night before going to sleep. I thought about it for months.

On Christmas morning, there was a big package under the tree with my name on it. This was it! I was going to be the envy of every boy in the second grade. The anticipation was overwhelming. I almost peed my pants as I tore the shiny red paper and revealed...

A plain white box. I had seen the racetrack I wanted in the store, and it did not come in a plain white box. It came in a box with a picture of cars neck and neck at the finish line. Blurry trail of color...crowd cheering...rubber burning...

There must have been some mistake. Someone had put my name on the wrong present.

“Go ahead and open it,” my stepfather said. He always needed a shave and stunk of booze, even on Christmas. Especially on Christmas, truth be known.

I opened the package. It was a set of gray pajamas, pocked with pictures of blue Indy cars. Something a little kid would wear to bed, not a big second grader. I started bawling. I couldn’t help myself. I knew he would make me wear those PJs until they were threadbare and busting at the seams, and I knew I would never ever get that Hot Wheels racetrack as long as I lived.

When he saw my grief, he called me a spoiled brat and stomped away to fix himself another highball. I never forgave him, and things were never the same between us. We hated each other until he blew his brains out when I was fifteen. Now I always tell people with kids to buy them what they really want, even if you have to go in hock to do it.

I pulled a Parrish here. This is an excerpt from my work in progress. Still, as you go out shopping tomorrow, try to remember that your gifts just might affect the recipients for the rest of their lives. Especially the little ones.

14 Comments:

Blogger spyscribbler said...

"pulled a Parrish"

Hah! Love that expression, and it's true: you had me going there!

Great, vivid piece. :-)

11:54 AM  
Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

You had me going too. This is way too close for comfort. I wanted that same racetrack, and didn't get it. Now look what you've done. Sniff. If I catch you pulling another Parrish I'll call my lawyer, I'll claim infringement, I'll suck your fucking skull.

Great post, by the way. Happy Thanksgiving! And thanks for being my blogging buddy!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Spy!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Stephen:

LOL. A million other bloggers might pull a million Parrishes, but you'll always be the original.

Happy Thanksgiving!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Kath Calarco said...

Geeze, Jude! I was ready to unearth your step-dad and kill him all over again.

Cool Parrish-style blog - and I really loved the image displayed, both by your wip excerpt, and Parrish's threats to "suck your fucking skull."

9:13 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

LOL, Kath! My fictional stepfather was a butthole, that's for sure.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

Wow. You had me there for a few minutes. I felt the little boy pain!

9:40 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Aimless. When a reader feels what the character feels, that means we're doing something right.

1:52 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

Pulled a Parrish.

Classic.

:-)

E

10:16 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Erica. Maybe I've coined a phrase. :)

2:15 PM  
Blogger Davin C. Goodwin said...

Ah yes.... Hot Wheels. I can't count the number of tracks and track "extras" we had.

ButI always won with my Jack Rabbit Special!

4:07 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Hey Dave:

I still have all my cars, including the "Boss Hoss" Mustang you could only get through the mail with cornflake boxtops!

6:03 PM  
Blogger lainey bancroft said...

Ha! I had the hottest Hot Wheels tracks going. Just ask my grandfather. The tracks made perfect weapons for little girls who didn't make their bed, came to the table without their hair combed or refused to eat their oatmeal!

Stung like bloody hell across the palm of a hand! No bull-Parrish-it!

9:06 PM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

I think most of us who grew up in the 60s/70s have at one time or another felt the sting of the orange plastic, Lainey. Whether from a guardian or just a friend who saw an opportunity when we bent over to pick up a car or something. :)

10:13 PM  

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