"What have I gotta do,
To make you love me?
What have I gotta do,
To make you care?
What do I do
When lightning strikes me,
And I awake to find
That you're not there?
What do I do
To make you want me?
What have I got to do
To be heard?
What'll I say
When it's all over,
Seems to be hardest word.
It's sad (so sad),
It's a sad, sad situation --
And it's getting
More and more absurd.
It's sad (so sad),
Why can't we talk it over?
Always seems to me,
Seems to be the hardest word ...
-- "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" by Elton John, your number one song on the Billboard Easy Listening charts, on the greatest day in recorded human history. (That would be January 3, 1977, for those of you who haven't figured that out yet ...)
Back in October, when I stayed at my folks house for a week as we were dealing with my dad's near death, I made a resolution, that the next time I was called on to dog-sit or house-sit for them, that I would do what I've long sworn to do: post "my back pages". The most intimate glimpse into why I am the way I am.
Yup, the baby book photos.
Today, peoples and peepettes, is your lucky day.
For once in my life? I'm honoring a promise I made you.
This for the most part, is going to go chronologically. And for the record, this is the treasure trove, I'm pulling these "I honestly don't remember that" classic moments from:
(Note: all images me, via my iPhone.)
Look at that beauty. A shade of brown uglier than the donkeys third uniforms. It's falling apart (although to be fair, it is almost 38 years old). And yet, admit it -- you cannot wait to see, what is inside of it.
Your first picture from "my back pages", me at three weeks old:
My God, that blanket is hideous. Hideous! And sadly? It's probably the least fashion-offensive outfit you'll be seeing me in, over the next few photographs. (Save for my third birthday gift. I'd still wear that thing if it fit.) Still, look at how cute I was, even back then!
(Pause). What? (Pause). Yeah, I know -- that pacifier was one lucky baby toy!
(*: and since I forgot to include it before posting, my third birthday:
Me at three months:
Wow. Just ... wow. The lil' bootie socks. The repulsive yellow overall short thingies. And man, was I one fat baby or what? Pudgy! (Also, not a stitch of hair, anywhere. Kinda the exact opposite of me now -- if I go three days without shaving, I look like Bowe Bergdahl's father.)
Plus, look at the background, and look at the ... whatever the hell that is, that I'm posing on. Is it a rug? Is it a bear skin? Is it a horribly folded blanket? And what the hell is it doing next to a lake? We lived across from Mid-American Nazarene for crying out loud; there wasn't a lake within ten miles of Olathe back then. (And I don't think there is today, either.)
Also, unstated, but probably a given -- you know this is an Olan Mills classic. It's too perfectly Olan Millsy, to not be from that fine studio of photography.
Me at six months:
In the interest of full disclosure, this might be my favorite picture in the entire freaking album.
Seriously, is this not THE perfect picture of me? Even at six months old (which would have been in July 1977), I'm drooling, I'm sweating, I have this goofy (rear end) grin on my face, and there isn't a t-shirt within five hundred feet of me! Or me on a typical Sunday, either at The Pool or tailgating at The K, thirty seven years later.
(Pause). What? (Pause). Oh come on. Even the worst parent in America wouldn't shove a bottle of Coors Light in their six month old's hand! A can of Bud Light*? Possibly. But definitely not Coors Light.
(*: this is a true story. I'll have to find that picture, of the A-Man lustfully staring at the (hopefully empty) can of Bud Light in his hands, as mama holds him proudly.)
(stevie wonder voice) Someday at Christmas ...
Wow. Just ... wow. There are not words, to express this one.
And if you think the carpeting is hideous ... just wait until the classic furniture shots, coming up next.
Me at one year old, take one:
See! I TOLD you we had a checkerboard plaid couch! Oh hell to the mo-fo yes, that's a plaid checkerboard couch! Plus, if you look really closely on the windowsill, in the back right corner, is that ... (verne lundquist voice) why my gracious! Is that liquor not in a cabinet? I really was born fifteen years too late!
(I honestly can't tell if that's a bottle of something ... but the longer I stare at it, the more convinced I am, that it's booze left wide, wide open, for anyone to enjoy. Especially when we get to the Easter 1980 pics. 1978 everyone!)
(Pause). What? (Pause). You want to see the couch in all its' glory? Well, here you go!
What's worse, and I ask this with all sincerity, because I can't tell: the couch, the afghan ... or whatever the hell that thing is, that I'm wearing, that passes as "high class clothing" back in 1978? NOTHING color coordinates! Plus, the understated part of the house I lived in until I was six: wood panel walls! Seriously, go back to the previous pic to confirm it -- wood panel walls!
(To say nothing of indoor shutters! I SO want to own that house someday!)
And yet, you can make a very credible argument ...
... that the plaid checkerboard couch, isn't even the most "fashionable" couch in the joint!
(Is this where I note, that I'm glad I'm not a Smurf? Blue shirt, blue shorts, blue couch ... yeah, throw in blue skin, and mom or dad or the dog might have sat on me by mistake.)
Next up? Probably my second favorite photo, the first time I ever ... uum ...
... allowed myself to "sit" on the lap of someone, I probably will regret "sitting" on the lap of, within about three seconds, of the encounter ending:
Oh yeah. My first visit ... with Mall Santa.
Even at 23 months old? In the words of Stevo's Site Numero Dos' Official Color Commentator (Emeritus) Dan Dierdorf, I do NOT look "just happy to be here". Plus, look at where that right hand is from Mall Santa. I mean, good grief, the stuff we accepted in 1978 as justifiable behavior from adults towards children! No wonder the Church feels justified in defending the pedophiles it employs!
And no -- I have no freaking clue, what the hell I'm wearing as a coat. Although looking at it, Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy", immediately comes to mind.
Three immediate things raised from this classic:
1. Bowling shoes!
2. Butterfly collars! Which means ...
3. Leisure suit?
I swear, there was a picture of me in a leisure suit, in this baby book once upon a time. It's not there now. Which means it's either laying on the floor of the closet this thing is stored in, or my mom burned the evidence. I'd lean (b) ... but for crying out loud, (peter griffin voice) really? Nobody's gonna speak up? I'm the one who's gonna have to say it? OK. Plaid Checkerboard Couch!
Plus, what's with the owl pillow? My three biggies growing up were Winnie the Pooh, Curious George, and Snoopy. Why an owl?
Also, how the hell does a top of the line Kodachrome instant picture camera from 1978 ... hang on, it's my folks. Let me start that again.
How the hell does a top of the line Kodachrome instant picture camera from 1974, five years later, still routinely spit out far better quality photos, than anything Olan Mills ever did, as a "professional studio"?
Both of these were filed under Easter 1980. Which means my folks couldn't decide which suit was classier?
A few things to notice, especially in the second pic:
* Fake potted plant! In both pics! (brian griffin voice) What the hell?
* The red shag carpeting is gone! (Boo!)
Oh, and if you look in the very back corner of the second pic, uum ... if it looks like a 1.75ml bottle of Beam or Seagrams, and (probably) tasted like a 1.75ml bottle of Beam or Seagrams, uum ... gee ... uum ...
Also, the dining room table in the middle of the picture to the left?
Here's how it looks today:
(the great anthony j. bruno voice) Beautiful.
Wow, where to even begin on this one.
My parents deciding at an early age "he's gonna have a beer gut, so let's boost his self-esteem by making him look fat in the waist-line area really, really early"?
The "wow, not even Tony Manero would wear these, they're too hideous" pants I'm sporting? (And please, if you don't know who Tony Manero is, do yourself a favor, and sit through the unedited version of my favorite movie ever, "Saturday Night Fever". You won't regret it.)
The blue couch from earlier, outlasting the carpeting it was on?
The ... whatever color the chair* is?
Or ... the gigantic Chia-pet like thing growing behind me?
Seriously, what is that thing? And why waste a silver serving tray, to hold it?
And what the hell is that white blob at the base of whatever that green Chia-pet thingy is? It looks like rotted molded cheese for crying out loud! (Pause). Hey! No wonder I'm lactose intolerant! I probably tried to eat that thing as Halloween candy or something!
(Admit it -- you're enjoying this. God knows I am.)
(*: that chair was lime green, for the record, and it survived intact, upright, ambulatory, and perfectly nostalgic, until mid-February 1998, in one piece. (It was sometime during the weekend I came home for some reason, that February.) While I was gone, uum, gee, how to put this delicately ... let's just say, the back right leg gave its life, for one amazing night of fun. The Chair made it another 11 months, with about 12 phone books used to replace the fourth leg that bit it for about six minutes of pure excitement that February night. Which yes, means I wasn't the one, who got to enjoy those six minutes of pure excitement with a lovely young co-ed, that February night. Damn you, "Tony Gonzalez"! You roo-eened my chair!)
And now, the first of two "piece de resistance" pictures.
I have often joked that my childhood consisted of being thrown in front of a television, watching various shows all day, when I wasn't getting drug from shopping center to shopping center.
Ladies and gentlemen, via my mom's own handwriting, I give you "words Stevo could not only say, but knew the definition for, when I was three years old":
The tally for the record:
Total words / names / phrases: 24.
Television and/or Cartoon Related: 10.
Store and/or Restaurant Related: 5.
Religion Related: 1.
Academic Related: 2.
People Related: 6. Including -- and especially -- the lovely "oh sh*t, I forgot he knows his daddy!" inclusion, at the very end.
Just wait until we get to the "Words Stevo Knows at Four" listing. (Gulp.)
It gets worse.
My first day of preschool, sometime in late summer / early fall 1980:
One of these two adorable three year olds, went on to become the current county attorney for Miami County, Kansas. The other one? Is me.
Shockingly, Miami County is not a county, whose correctional facility I have called home for at least one night.
I know, I know -- "bucket list!"
Finally, the "Words Stevo Knew at Four" listing, again, in my mom's handwriting:
The count: 58. (Genius! More than doubled the count in a year! (Pause). Or mom "padded the stats". (Pause). Yeah, I lean towards the latter, too.)
Television and/or cartoon related: 18. (Yes, "Pooh Dog" is on there twice. I had to ask on this one, and was told that I combined Winnie the Pooh and the dog as "Pooh Dog", so that's why it appears twice. Oh, uum, okay. Man, if only I'd arrived ten years earlier, I could have launched Snoop Dogg, combining Snoopy and the family dog from 1980! Whose name I believe was Chelsea. (Pause). No that's not a joke, I remember a white Yorkie named Chelsea who "vanished" about the time I started school. (Pause). Yes, I know where you want me to take this, but I actually think Chelsea Clinton is kinda, sorta hot. Sorry, but that's how I feel. Deal with it.)
Shopping and/or restaurant related: 11. No padding the stats via a double entry, that I could see.
People related: 17. That's better.
Religion related: 2. I counted Christmas as "religion related", to pad the stats. Which I'm guessing, my mom did too.
Food related: 4. Glad to know a four year old knows what coffee is.
Miscellaneous related: 3. So a horse, a telephone, and baseball walk into a bar ...
Academic related: 3. Glad to know I unlearned "1-2-3", from a year earlier.
And that takes you, from the day I was born, to the day of my kindergarten graduation.
Which is where the baby book of memories stops.
I'll keep that picture to myself, for a few personal reasons.
I hope you enjoyed the rest of them.
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