Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brandi Carlile "Keep Your Heart Young"

When I hear Brandi Carlile mention, at the beginning of this song, her plans to build a rocket, I laugh and think of this childhood memory . . .

I was visiting my Aunt Janet.  Or, in retrospect, I'm guessing Mom and Dad had plans, and Aunt Janet was drafted to babysit me.

But in the ego-centric mind of a 5 year old, I was visiting Aunt Janet.

She'd taken me to a playground, and at this moment we were sitting, stock still, watching a scene unfold across the way.

A group of teenage boys had come running into the sandy playground area, and they were all huddled around something . . . They were excited, nervous and looking around, and they were making a plan.

Auntie and I watched them discuss, negotiate, and then decide.

They buried a car's license plate right near the slide.  "We'll come back and get it later," one of them said to the group, as they ran off as quickly as they came.

Auntie was a teenager herself.  And I was 5.  We were both smart enough to realized that the license plate was stolen.  Probably just moments before.  Probably right off a car.

And we both knew what we had to do.

We dug that license plate up and ran home as fast as we could!

I don't know why stealing it from the stealers seemed like the right thing to do, but we did it.  And now I had my very own license plate.

When Mom and Dad came to pick me up, we told them of our adventure, and I unveiled my new plan:

I would build a boat!

I already had a license plate.  Building the boat, forward from that point couldn't be that hard.

Through the long car ride home I imagined my boat.  How I would craft it in our side yard.  How Dad would have to get some rope so we could tow it down to the river.  How I could make it Ark-sized, and maximize the height factor, since I was only a small boy.

There were a lot of details to consider.  I slept on it.

The next morning was a bright sunny day, and I had awakened with an epiphany:

Why build a boat, when you could have a helicopter?

Yes, I would build a helicopter, and fly around the neighborhood.  Those big kids with their go-carts and skateboards would look up and see me soaring over their heads.  I would be the envy of Jefferson Street.

"Mom, I'm going out to build a helicopter."

Mom was pretty relaxed about the whole thing.  I thought she'd be more concerned about a 5 year old piloting an aircraft, but she just said, "Okay."

Honestly, parents in the 1970s didn't even flinch at the idea of a 5 year old grabbing a hammer and a box of nails and some scrap wood.  Today, I feel like I'll go to jail for child abuse if I don't cut my kids' grapes in half.

I worked away for a while, but started to become frustrated with the complicated engineering of it all.

I'd nailed two long, large boards into a cross to make the propellers.  And I'd nailed a 6 inch piece of wood with a single nail, to the side of another board, so I could pull it back and forth like a lever.

But how was this thing going to be powered?  How was I going to measure my speed or know how high I was flying?

I went inside for a glass of milk and talked to my Mom about these problems.

Mom was resourceful and creative, so it was always good to take these kinds of questions to her.

She went into the cupboard and found some Tupperware/butter-tub tops.  And she showed me how I could put a nail through the center of the plastic top and into a board and it would work like a steering wheel.  You could even draw on it with a marker, and it would work like a gauge.

She gathered up her creative solutions and handed the pieces back to me, sending me into the yard to complete my project.

I remember sitting in the driveway, watching her watch me from the porch with a smile on her face.  And as she did, I distinctly remember thinking:

"This woman is an idiot.  You can't make a real helicopter out of butter-tubs.  I need electronics!"

But, realizing that we probably didn't have a spare helicopter's electronics panel in our garage, I should just hammer these Tupperware parts into a piece of wood, and humor the sweet, naive woman.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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