Signs of Abnormality

I have a horrific memory. It's actually kind of scary how much of my past is a blank slate. I am always amazed when people give detailed acounts of numerous things that happened to them in their childhood or even two to five years ago. And don't even ask me when something happened, as in a date or year. I have NO concept of time.

That said, I do have a few memories. Splotchy, vivid images of the craziest things. They're almost like out of body experiences rather than memories, because I see myself. Like I'm watching me in a movie. I know. I'm weird. I was born this way.

Thinking back, I do believe there were early signs that I am not entirely normal. (Although who's to say what normal is?) One of these vivid 'memories' involves me swinging on a swing in our backyard singing Petulia Clark's 'Downtown'. Considering where we lived at that time (my family moved a lot!) I couldn't have been more than five. Shouldn't I have been singing nursery ryhmes or something? I also remember being on that same swing and thinking, "Someday I'm going to be on Johnny Carson." Not Romper Room or the Mickey Mouse Club, but The Tonight Show. Jeez.

Another vivid memory involves me, yet again, on a swing. Only this time it was on a school playground during recess. Considering where we lived at that time, I was maybe seven. The song of choice: Born Free. I can remember the sensation of swinging as high as I could, the elation, and singing "Born Free! As free as the wind blows. As free as the grass grows. Born free to follow our heart!" And so on, at the top of my lungs, from beginning to end. Yes, I knew all of the words.

I told my husband that once and he laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes. To this day, if we hear 'Born Free' or if the movie is mentioned, he smiles. He says that image of me as a little girl on a swing, singing 'Born Free' cracks him up. "What kid sings 'Born Free'?" he asks.

Um, well, me. I'm telling you, it was a sign of things to come. *G*

What's one of your earliest memories, a sign that perhaps you were maybe a little, er, different?


Tori Lennox said…
LOL! I love those memories, Beth!

I don't know how different it makes me, but I can vaguely remember when I couldn't have been more than three. We lived in California (not that that has anything to do with the story...) and Mom & I were going for a walk. I had this set of plastic Yogi Bears (there were three of them--which in retrospect makes no sense--red, green, and yellow). I wanted to take at least one of them with me. Mom said I could but I had to carry it the whole time. Yeah, that worked out well for her. Not. *g*

Now why I can remember THAT and not something only a few years ago, I have no clue. :)
Kelly said…
I don't think I'm ever going to hear Born Free again without thinking of you. :-)

My earliest memory of me being a big weirdo is from kindergarten. It was drawing time and some high school students were there as volunteers. The teacher asked us to draw a picture representing our favorite song, and one of the students would help us write the song title at the top of the page. Most of the kids drew pictures for songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb and I'm a Little Teapot. My song choice? You Can Eat Crackers in My Bed Anytime by Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. I drew a picture of a couple sitting in bed. Next to the bed was a nightstand with a plate of crackers on it. I also included a picture of the ladies singing the song complete with musical notes floating aorund their heads.

That was the first of many parent teacher conferences that year. :-)
Cynthia said…
I'm so glad I stopped in this morning.

I've often wondered what was wrong with me because I have trouble pulling up childhood memories. I always chalked it up to being an only child. Having no one to always remind me of the events allows them to fall into the background. So glad to see I'm not alone.

So? Childhood memories that foreshadowed my abonormality? Hmmm. Thinking. Did I mention I have trouble remembering my childhood?

I don't remember how old I was, I'll guess about six or seven. I had this plastic bassett hound lawn ornament, it was nearly life size. I think it came from a yard sale. I remember wrapping it up in my baby blanket (the one I still have) and sleeping with it. I did this for a night or two. Then my mother discovered the sand in my bed and it stopped. You see, it was a lawn/garden ornament and it had to be weighted down so it had sand in it.

Actually my primary childhood memories were playing in the fields and woods behind our house. I was always on some adventure or another. Who needed Barbie when I could act it all out myself?

To so degree or another I've been a storyteller forever.
Beth Ciotta said…
Heeeey, Boo-boo! LOL, Tori. I adored Yogi Bear. I had a plastic one too. Think I got it from inside a cereal box! So, I'm guessing your mom ended up carrying Yogi. :) It's just like when a parent says you can have a pet, but YOU have to take care of it. That always works out, too. Not. *g*
Beth Ciotta said…
OMG, Kelly!!! *snort* That's a priceless story. I actually know that song. Remember the Mandrell Sisters Show? You might be too young for that. Anyway, I got a very vivid image from your description of your drawing. *snicker* I'm imagining your mom getting the teacher's phone call. "Do you know what your daughter drew?!" Hee-hee. It could have been worse. The couple could've been naked. Wait. They weren't, were they? *g*
Beth Ciotta said…
Cynthia, I'm the oldest of seven kids, so it can't be the only child thing. You and I are just victims of freaky poor memories. At least you know now that you are not alone. :)

Love that the plastic bassett hound was a lawn ornament. To funny. Also enjoy thinking of you romping in the fields and woods creating your own adventures. Yup. Signs of a storyteller!
Bethany said…
You mean the time when I was 8ish and I could repeat entire SCENES from any of the GREASE movies?

Or say when I made up entire plays in my notebooks and performed one act plays for my family?

Yeah, we weirdos, we stick together don't we? ;-)
Bruno Amato said…
Beth, I would know that womens voice from Romper Room anywhere:)I used to love Bozo the Clown too and every Sunday Morning with Bob McCallister on would always get free gifts and they had that contest where you open up those cans and if you picked the wrong can, those big fake snake things would pop out :) maybe that's what triggered me to get into the entertainment business:).....Now I will have Born Free stuck in my head all day :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Any GREASE movie, Bethany? Not just the classic Travolta/Newton-St John GREASE? That IS impressive! So I'm guessin' you have the guy and girl parts of 'Summer Lovin' memorized? :)

Ah, yes. The Garland/Rooney 'Let's put on a show' phase. I did that too. Only instead of one-act plays, I coordinated varity shows. My cousins, who I graciously allowed to be in my shows (hee-hee) said I was bossy because I always wanted to be in charge. Oh, and be the star. Even back then I had to do it all. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
So, Bruno, did you wait anxiously at the end of every show to see if she saw you in her 'Magic Mirror'? And remember Mr. Do-Bee? ;)

I was also a BIG fan of Bozo the Clown. But I never saw Sunday Morning with Bob McCallister on Wonderama. I wonder if that was an East-coast thing. I grew up in the Midwest with Captain Kangeroo and Mr. Rogers. Anyhoo, so... you gotta kick out of the ol' snake-in-a-can prank, eh? Something tells me you're dangerous on April Fool's Day. LOL
Mary Stella said…
I can so see you singing at the top of your lungs while swinging as high as you could go and your choice of songs makes perfect sense. That might be because I know you so well. I have an early childhood memory of also singing and swinging, but my song of choice was Soldier Boy. I think it's before we lived in France, so I would have been younger than 9. I had a wild crush on the guy who lived in the house in back of ours. I think he must have been 18 or so and probably embarrassed that a child sang to him.

My very earliest memory is of sitting on my mother's lap in an airplane and seeing my older brother walk in front of her knees to look out the plane window. My folks told me we were on our way to Bermuda and I was younger than toddler age.
Tori Lennox said…
Hey, did you know different parts of the country had different hosteses for Romper Room? I was quite surprised when I learned that. I've got a postcard I got from Miss Lois (I think that was her name) when I was five or six. Ah, those were the good old days! :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Ah, Mary. I can envision you singing Soldier Boy. :) Do you remember what inspired that specific song? Did you see that 18-year-old in uniform, maybe?

I can't believe you have a memory from toddler age. Zowie! Then again you do have a pretty amazing memory overall. I love hearing your stories about your family, schol days, and --ahem-- rock and roll years. :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Tori, I didn't realize the RR teachers were regional until I did a little research. I bet they had regional Bozo's too. :) Anyhoo, check out this sight to see varios Romper Room Misses throughout the years as well as fun video clip and pics of Mr. Do-Bee!
Gabriele C. said…
I'm singing opera since I was five or so. No matter whether basso or soprano, I was singing the stuff - the soprano part often in a falsetto voice (I have the Russian falsetto which is almost a voix mixte, something Italian singers have to train for years - I could always just do it). I had some Italian before I started to learn English at school, lol.

Later I took singing lessons and now I only sing those arias that fit my voice. Not good enough for the stage but at least the neighbours won't murder me. :)
Cheryl said…
Umm . . . remember when library books had the little pockets with a due-date card on the inside back cover and a paper glued to the other side that the library would stamp with the due date so you'd know when to return it? I remember when I was maybe 8 years old, instead of playing outside when I wasn't reading, I made those little due-date things and stuck them in the books I owned. I think I even made my own little card catalog. I don't know why I thought they were necessary or who I thought might borrow them because I didn't let anyone touch MY books. lol.
Beth Ciotta said…
Singing opera at five IS a tad abnormal, Gabriele. Or shall we say unusual. And in Italian, no less? Okay. Let's say you were freakishly gifted. :)

Lucky neighbors. Who needs the opera? They can sit in their backyard with a bottle of wine and enjoy your arias!
Beth Ciotta said…
Okay, Cheryl. That is just totally out there. And totally cute. Ever watch 'Frasier'? That's something he or his little brother, Niles, would've done. *snicker*

Speaking of the due-datecards, can you believe we lived to see the day when libraries no longer use them?? At least mine doesn't. No more cards. No more stamps. It's done on the computer. All the books and due dates listed on a reciept like form. Is that how it works at your library? Times are a changin'!
Oh, Beth, this made me laugh. My memory is like yours - vivid about some things and full of holes on others.

My ex has a photographic memory starting roughly at birth. Other women would probably find it romantic that he remembers what I was wearing for every date, but I just find it scary. Also, he can cite the circumstances of every love making incident in our twelve year relationship. During a recent phone call, he said "Remember the time you wore the cowboy hat and high heels?"


Believe me, Beth, we may be better off.
Roni said…
My earliest memory is strange. I was around two (based on where we lived) and was "helping" my mom with her housework (something I no longer like to do, LOL) and I remember thinking that the voice I heard in my head was really me. Weird, huh? A psychologist told me many years later that creative people often have memories of realizing what their conscious mind is earlier than average people do. As far as songs...I used to like singing advertisements! Some were really catchy. And when I had my own kids, I'd sing them to my kids, too. Some favorites? Good N Plenty (Once upon a time there was an engineer, choo-choo Charlie was his name, we hear) and the ad for yipes stripes gum. (I'm really dating myself here). Someone mentioned Grease--I used to sing "Tell me more" to my babies when they were talking baby talk. No surprise that my kids love music and both play several instruments.
Beth Ciotta said…
...he said "Remember the time you wore the cowboy hat and high heels?"

Bwa-ha-ha!!! Love it, Toni! Okay. I can see where having an ex with a photogenic memory could have its drawbacks. *g* But it makes for some priceless stories! Surely you could use some of that stuff for one of your books. Speaking of, saw that you gave notice at your day job so you can write full time. You go!!
Beth Ciotta said…
Wow, Roni. That IS an odd memory. Not sure I understand it. You'll have to clue me in more next time I see you.

As far as commercial jingles go, when I was a kid, I had many of them memorized as well! "If I were an Oscar Meyer weiner..." And "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony"--which I believe was the Coke jingle.

And what about the old McDonalds jingle -- "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."

Did I remember it right? (This from a woman who can't remember her own cell phone number.)
Anonymous said…
Well, you see I have this great big sister who would put me on the back of her bike and take me to a pizza place downtown. I remember sitting on the counter getting to eat cold pepperoni slices. Do you remember that!?! Beacause I don't think I dreaming. I love you!!! Brandy
Gabriele C. said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gabriele C. said…
Argh, Blogger comments don't accept the list tags, it seems. Here's again.

Oh, the romantic times of data cards. We also had little booklets where you could note down the books you had read, and when. I kept one of these because the librarian always was amazed at the weird diversity of books I got.

A month in 1974 (that makes me 13)
- Balzac, Splendour and Misery of Courtesans
- girly horse book
- Illustrated History of Medicine
- the diary of a surgeon during WW2
- Huxley, Brave New World (in English)
- another girly horse book
- Dostojevsky, Karamassov Brothers
- Jules Verne, The Children of Captain Grant
- Life in the Wild West (non fiction)
- Balzac, Chagrin Leather
- Karl May, Old Surehand 1 and 2 (sort of Western/travel fiction)
- Bartos-Höppner, 2 YA books taking place in Late Medieaval Russia
- Verne, Journey to the Centre of the Earth
- a girly horse book with a romance
- Lamb's retellings of Shakespeare (in English)
- Shakespeare, Macbeth (bilingual edition)
- The World's Greatest Discoveries: The Flight to the Moon
Beth Ciotta said…
Waving to my almost youngest sister, Brandy!!!! Hellooo! So excited to see you here. Um, well, no, I don't remember precisely riding into town with you on the back of my bike. But I DO have a vague recollection of you eating those cold pepperoni slices. Jeez, that's an early memory for you. It would have been when I was home, out of singing work for awhile, and I picked up work at the Pizza Place. Yes, folks, I learned to twirl pizza dough and everything. ;) I would've been maybe 19. You would've been like, what... three?! A lifteime ago. LOL Thanks for the sweet memory, sis. I love you too!!! :)
Beth Ciotta said…
Gabriele! Holy Guacomole, you were one well-read teen! Love that you still have that card. :)
Gabriele C. said…
Beth, I was bugged at school and a lonely child, I had all the time of the world to read. In summer, I spend most of the time in a little garden house I had built with my father.

The other thing I did a lot was walking (back then the countryside was still safe for a girl) a lot and making up stories. Some of them I told to an old lady who kept escaping the nursing home and walk one of my favourite ways. She suffered from dementia and didn't understand she belonged into that home, but she recognsied me and loved my stories. The nurses after some time knew me as well and didn't mind if I took her as far as the next village where we had some ice cream and then returned. Despite her demens, she still had a pretty fit body and loved long walks.
Beth Ciotta said…
School cliques and bullies can be murder, Gabrielle. I dealt with some in my time. Or should I say endured. :) However, you spent your time well, reading, creating stories and providing companionship and joy to that unfortunate woman who was probably just as lonely as you were. That's quite special indeed. :)

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