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Early Traumas

June 3, 2010

Sometimes questions require dedicated answers.  The questions themselves are so good, that I cannot wait until the next Ask the Profussor.  And the answers are so long that they really justify a post of their own.

Maltnsmoke seems to know how to ask just this kind of question. Last night, he asked several, some of which will just have to wait.  Here is what needs to be addressed today:

Childhood trauma of losing ones ice cream? Seriously? If, as an adult, I avoided everything that I lost, damaged or screwed up as a kid, let’s just say “Jack would be a very dull boy”. One does all these things as a kid and recovers so as to be able to eat ice cream and do anything else that makes one sticky…LIKE A BIG BOY. Then he washes up and moves on.

Granted, these are minor traumas.  I consider myself very fortunate that the most significant tragedies of my early childhood are melted ice cream, the birth of my little sister, and our family’s move to Florida.

Still, I think about this, and remember my old friend who snuck too much champagne at a family wedding, and could not touch the stuff 20 years later.  We all know people who have been through situations like this.  Some of them are able to work past the trauma.  Others to their dying day won’t touch tequila.  Or Jägermeister.

However it also brings to mind something else.  Maybe just a little more poignant.

All families have stories.  And my family isn’t much different.  The idea of a specific childhood food trauma recalls a story I was told by my father, about something that happened to him when he was a young boy.

You ever hear of Rootie Kazootie?

He was really like a knock-off Howdy Doody.  It was a television show in the early 1950s with a live studio audience of children.  If you watch the clip, you may notice how all the kids are eating the sponsor’s candy bar.

Well, somehow my dad got to be one of those kids.

One day he got all dressed up and went to the studio, which was in New York City.  The sponsor that day was Nehi Grape Soda.  So all of the kids were given a bottle of the stuff to drink while the show was being filmed.  That way when the camera panned to the audience, the viewer at home would see a bunch of happy kids enjoying the sponsor’s product.  Brilliant.

I find it very refreshing to see how friendly television used to be for advertisers.

Anyhow, my father decides that instead of just drinking the soda willy nilly during the filming, that he would save it for later.  There he was.  Sitting in the audience, with an open bottle of grape soda – a rare and precious treat – in his hands.  And he waited.  All around him were happy kids sipping on their sweet purple nectar through straws.  And he waited.  After all, if he was only going to have one Nehi during his excursion to the city, he would wait until he was thirsty.

There are some studies that suggest kids who express the ability to delay their own gratification become more successful as adults.  In some ways my dad would fit that bill.

But (and this is the big but) he totally got smacked down for saving the Grape Nehi.  In fact, for reasons that were never made quite clear, he wasn’t allowed to take the bottle from the studio.  Which means he never got to drink the grape soda.  They took his cherished Nehi away from him and threw it in the trash, as the boy who would become my father watched in horror.

My dad walked out of the studio that day with a very important life lesson:
Don’t save for later what you can enjoy right now.

One might not think that such a story would be a big deal.  So the kid didn’t get a soda.  Who cares?  I know.  But this story is a family legend.  It has been told countless times.  Which means it must have had a serious impact.  Although I cannot say that I took the lesson to heart since I too save things, as I have alluded to in the past.  Maybe it’s genetic.

Ultimately, all I am saying is that we are all a product of our experiences.  And some things have more of an impact than others.

I’m glad that maltnsmoke has been able to overcome some of those obstacles, other people still struggle with them.  Or maybe some of us are just more aware of our inner workings.  That’s the funny thing about people.  You never can tell.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. maltnsmoke permalink
    June 3, 2010 10:00 pm

    I’d like you to know that I truly appreciate the attention the FLB has paid to my post. Thank you.

    It can be difficult to effectively convey the intended tone in these short form posts, so let me start by saying that I am not trying to be dismissive or harsh in relating my observations. Please keep in mind that I do not wish to disparage and for that for me the FLB’s family legend is a bit of an abstraction. Now on to the rough stuff.

    This soda incident was your father’s “trauma”. However, I am not convinced that he would have described it as such. As you relate the story, he processed the experience and formed a valuable and positive life lesson. It seems that the purpose of repeating the family legend was not to wallow in sadness or justify quirky behavior. Rather, it was to pass on the lesson, such that his progeny might avoid making a similar mistake. Would he have bristled at the notion that the legend might be used to rationalize ice cream avoidance?

    FLB says “I’m glad that maltnsmoke has been able to overcome some of those obstacles, other people still struggle with them. Or maybe some of us are just more aware of our inner workings. That’s the funny thing about people. You never can tell.”

    Well, “some of those obstacles” is apt phraseology, as maltnsmoke struggles too. I also understand how comforting it can be to ascribe aberrant behaviors to the vagaries of one’s inner workings. Coming to the realization that one has an awareness of these inner workings does not confer permission to avoid becoming or at least appearing to be well adjusted. Nor should another’s outward appearances of normalcy be taken as a lack of such awareness.

    Anyway, sometimes a dish of ice cream is just a dish of ice cream.

  2. maltnsmoke permalink
    June 3, 2010 11:33 pm

    PS. In a pinch, cones can just be cones.

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