digging for gold

The following account may or may not be true.

The year I turned ten, my dad got a camcorder-- the kind of enormous video camera that recorded directly onto VHS cassettes. He loved that camera, and used it to tape every occasion that could possibly merit a video-- family vacation, birthday parties, family reunions, school programs and that one time it sleeted so much it almost looked like snow!

We lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. Frozen precipitation was a major event.

And then of course there was Christmas. Christmas was an epic production when I was a kid. We would open all the presents under the tree on Christmas eve-- every single one. Those were the ones from my parents and other family and friends. Then Santa Claus would come that night-- after we had finally gone to sleep-- and we'd wake up to another mountain of presents on Christmas morning. Then we would drive over to the home of whomever was hosting the extended family dinner that year and play with cousins and talk politics and football and eat, and eat, and eat some more.

So. The first Christmas with the camcorder came, and my dad was determined to catch every second of it. He set up the camcorder on its tripod in the dark corner of the living room opposite the Christmas tree, put in a new tape, and let it quietly roll without pause during the entire marathon session of present opening. We didn't pay any attention, really-- the thing's novelty had all worn off, at least for us kids, so the days of trying to ham it up were past. Besides, there were presents to open, dang it!

I should mention here that we went in rounds for present opening: I would open and admire a present, my sister would open and admire a present, my mom would open and admire a present, and then my dad. Then it would be my turn again. So I had to wait (during the early part of the evening, at least, before the Grownup Presents ran out) for three presents to be opened and admired between each of mine. During the waiting periods I would back up from the action a bit, usually in a nice dark corner of the living room opposite the Christmas tree, and watch from there.

It was during one of these waiting periods that I got an itch-- a really, really itchy itch, deep in the recesses of a certain bodily orifice. I know you know the kind of itch I'm talking about. Being ten, and being unobserved in my corner by my parents while they gleefully gave my sister a present to open, I gave no thought at all to reaching around to the rear of my little nightgown and giving that itch a good, long, extended, satisfying scratch. Ah! Relief.

Presents, presents, presents. After the marathon ended and my sister and I went to bed, my parents sat down in the glow of the Christmas tree to review the video of our giddy faces and exclamations of delight. My sister and I were too excited to go to sleep right away, but eventually we began to drift off. I was almost completely asleep when I was jolted back into full consciousness by hoots and howls and screams of laughter from the living room. There was so much hilarity that I thought surely unexpected guests had arrived because two people could not make that much noise.

I leaped from bed and ran into the living room, where I found my parents curled up and practically paralyzed with laughter, gasping and pointing at the television. Stop. Rewind. Play.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I was pretty embarrassed, but not so much that I couldn't see the humor in it. Ha ha ha! What a funny little private family joke.

The next morning we woke up to The Biggest Haul Ever from Santa Claus, and what with candy to eat and new toys to play with and new books to be read, I sort of forgot about the video tape. Around mid-morning we packed up our potluck dishes and gifts for the gift exchange and headed over to Aunt Linda's house, which was full of aunts and uncles and cousins and really great art supplies (Aunt Linda was a Montessori teacher).

My dad was setting up his camcorder and explaining its capabilities to one of my uncles and roomful of various other relatives when he mentioned that he could plug the camera into the television and play back tapes on it just like a VCR.

"And oh!" he said, "Have I got a tape to show you. We call it, 'Digging For Gold!'"

I put down my fruit-scented marker and left my chair at the kids' table.

"Daddy," I said. "Daddy, please don't show that part of the tape. Please."

"Aw, Baby, you don't need to be embarrassed. It's funny!"

And I knew I would not be able to persuade him. I ran to my cousin's bedroom on the other side of the house and tried hard to focus on one of the books I found in there, hoping that if I could just get interested enough in the story, I would not hear the sudden shouts of laughter, and I could forget that I was being watched.


For various reasons, I'm doing NaBloPoMo in October this year. The October theme is HAUNTED, so I'm writing about things that haunt me: stories (truth and fiction) that I've heard or read, things I've done or haven't done (the accounts of which may or may not be true), problematic philosophical concepts, and so forth.


M. Robert Turnage said...

Does your Dad know about this little invention called YouTube? And may I have his email?

happygeek said...

Oh cringe.
Yeah, that one would haunt me too.