Garter

I have a complicated relationship with garters. More appropriately, I have a complicated history with big, poofy dresses, but more about that later. Right now, this is a garter. It’s the last garter of three that I nabbed before I married my adorable wife. This one’s kind of battered and torn because for most of the time I’ve had it I’ve kept it a glove box or a junk drawer. I threw away the other two before I left the respective weddings. Here’s the deal: I was traumatized when I was little. Whatever you do, if you have kids and you take them to Universal Studios and the Lucy impersonator from I Love Lucy is singing with a mariachi band and they start playing a cover of Arrow’s “Hot, Hot, Hot,” do not let your kids get too close. My parents didn’t know this general rule when I was 13 and puberty was budding, so of course when the woman impersonating Lucy started singing the first verse directly to me, my parents thought, “Oh how cute, a vacation memory he’ll cherish forever.” That’s when the impersonator waltzed up to me, lifted her poofy dress, and lowered it over my head. What I actually saw was the blackest black that ever blacked, but all I was feeling was, “Oh crap, should I be doing this? My parents are watching. Should I get out. Am I doing something wrong? I kinda wanna stay. No I don’t! What am I thinking?” Then the light of the Florida afternoon flooded my vision and all I could hear was the piercing horns of the mariachi band repeating the melody. I didn’t cry. I didn’t run away. I just watched. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what a traumatic experience that really was. Arrow’s “Hot, Hot, Hot,” came on the radio and I lost it. “Change the station,” I shouted repeatedly. Ever since then, that song has made me queasy, but not as queasy as when I caught my first garter. I was around 15 and when I saw the groom go under the bride’s gown I started to feel that panic again–the panic I felt when I did not love lucy–but luckily my competitive nature kicked in to distract me. I caught the garter, felt guilty about it, and threw it away. The same thing happened a few years later. This garter I have now was caught only a couple years ago. I think I kept it instead of tossing it because I had finally made the subconscious distinction between my childhood “trauma” and whatever else I was experiencing, but for some reason I kept it hidden out of sight. When my brother caught a garter he hung it from his rear-view mirror for everyone to see, but that was ludicrous to me. I have to say this is one trinket I’m glad I’ve found a reason to rid myself of. Over the years I’ve gleaned a bit of perspective on the Lucy-impersonator experience which has allowed me to live a relatively normal life–I can now listen to “Hot, Hot, Hot,” and not freak out–but I am still thankful to not have to see this leopard print reminder whenever I open my junk drawer.

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~ by russell jander on January 7, 2012.

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