Tag Archives: childhood

The Issue of the Tongue Scraper: A Conversation

I have been away for a while, often physically, mainly mentally. But I have decided to come back, at least interwebically.

My sister gave birth to her second sprout, a wee lass called Rosemary. She is not cute at all. She in fact looks much like the previous sprout (named Henry). The good news is that all my sibling’s kids have been complete uggos on entry to the world and then, magically, sometime later, they turn into these devastatingly cute urchins I quite like to show people pictures of (like it somehow reflects well on me).

Anyway, to commemorate this wonderful occasion I thought I’d relate a conversation I had with my sister, Cecil, a few years back in London. I wrote it down afterwards then forgot about it only to find it just the other day.

M: (upon returning from the bathroom) ‘What’s that triangle on a stick thing in your toothbrush jar?’

C: ‘A tongue-scraper.’

M: ‘When did you get a tongue-scraper?’

C: ‘I’ve always wanted a tongue-scraper. I went hardcore on my tongue with a toothbrush for years until I discovered how well a flannel worked so, understandably, the tongue-scraper was a complete revelation.’

M: ‘So now you just use the tongue-scraper?’

C: ‘Nah, all three. It works a treat.’

M: ‘Um, okay. Thorough. So, let me guess: the brush, followed by flannel, then the tongue-scraper.’

C: ‘Nope, after experimenting I’ve come to recognize the superiority of the scraper, flannel, brush regimen.’

M: ‘… I guess I can see the first two, but why finish with the brush? Kinda rough.’

C: ‘I see the brush, with toothpaste of course, as a kind of disinfectant or, yeah, a deodorizer. Fresh and minty. So it goes last. Logical, eh?’

M: ‘Right. Of course. And I imagine it gets the taste of flannel out of your mouth.’

C: ‘Actually, I’ve come to like the taste of flannel.’

I’m quite fond of that conversation; it captures something essential of my sister. Also, as an aside, I think ‘tasting flannel’ would be an excellent euphemism for lesbianism: ‘One might, if one were so inclined, taste flannel.’

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Going Joe

I was of questionable moral character when I was younger (I’m conveniently partitioning age-wise). I had a couple of friends, Brent and Warren, also about 12 years old, who I used to team up with to pull childish heists. There are a host of reasons, acknowledged or not, that would explain these endeavors: acting out, adrenaline rushes, attention seeking, innate evilness (junior evilness, sans animal torture, all senior evil dudes need in order to get their stripes) or just stupidity. The ones most central to our motivations of the time were adrenaline rushes and profit (oops, forgot to mention that one).

One of our favourite schemes was to nick semi-expensive items and then return them for cash refunds. Which isn’t as simple as it sounds; it required someone with my particular skill set. I was a late bloomer, short for my age and a face that radiated innocence. I could also act suitably distressed and/or stupid:

“We really require the receipt.”

“Um, I did have it… my mum just wanted me to give it back coz daddy… I mean my dad… got one as well… I think she gave me the receipt… I don’t know where it is… I, um, might have lost it?” [Stage direction] Widen eyes, look worried, generate blush if possible.

(A look of sympathy) “Okay. I guess it’ll be okay this once, just remember to keep the receipt next time.” [Stage direction] Smile timidly and say ‘thank you’ quietly and abashedly.

The trick was to surrender your fate wholly and voluntarily into their hands. Give them complete power and then let the cute innocence do the legwork. It was pretty fucking predatory, really.

We’d celebrate with massive sugar binges and fireworks.

Another favourite thing to steal was G.I. Joe dolls, though this was a non-profit venture. We’d take them home and blow them up with fireworks bought with our purloined profits. “Go Joe! Greatest American Hero!!” We’d yell as Duke went sub-orbital, sellotaped to the back of Dr. Mindbender’s ICBM. Boom! [Stage directions] Commence giggling.

Sometimes we’d get one of those candle-like ones that spewed sparks and fireballs and use it to melt the faces of the more uncooperative dolls.

Mangled figurine limbs littered our neighbourhood.

I actually didn’t like doing that explosive stuff so much. Not because I thought it was silly or sick or anything, mainly because I thought it was a waste. I still played with my action figures, you see. Formed bonds with them. Brent and Warren didn’t, they considered that childish. I would smuggle out the occasional prisoner and keep them hidden in my room for when we could properly save the world or go adventuring, maybe trying to make up for the karmic harm I caused when in my villainous role. I liked the ninjas the best: Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Jinx.

It was quite embarrassing when the police busted us shoplifting and it spread around school that we stole dolls. It didn’t seem to matter to anyone that we could produce disfigured evidence of our cool pyrotechnic proclivities. We stole dolls, that shit sticks.

It almost rubbed off the shine of notoriety we’d gained the previous year for the porn-mag ring we’d established amongst the 11 year olds.

That story doesn’t really have a point other than to offer up a reason why I, a man in his 30s, would go and see the G.I. Joe movie. Which was simply awful. I loved it, because of the nostalgia and all, but wow, what an irredeemable piece of shit. Easily one of the worst movies I’ve seen in my life. I’d have wandered out half way through if their pyrotechnics hadn’t brought a nostalgic tear to my eye. I laughed, quite inappropriately, when Cobra Commander’s face was melted off (Golden Showers! That’s what those flame-spitting fireworks were called! Ha, Golden Showers! You’d think that would put the fire out…) – the laugh was a reaction that garnered a dubious look from someone down the row (like I cared, honestly, they’re watching action doll’s blow shit up. You’re not equipped to have moral suspicions when you do that).

Anyway. Don’t go and see it. Unless you’re a masochist, of course. Or a recovering thief. Or a  bit thick with a short attention span. Though the Baroness was quite hot, something I can better appreciate now though knew even at 12, still 2 years shy of puberty. Which might explain the doll thing in the first place.