Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Sunday Memory Drawer - The Very First Sunday Memory Drawer

For those of you keeping count,  this blog had its seventh birthday yesterday.  On March 15, 2007, I began the exercise of a daily writing assignment.  The goal was to sharpen my wit and replenish my creative juices.  I had no idea it would last a year. 

Then I doubted it would last two years. 

Here we are beginning Year Eight. 

Admittedly, when you enter these pages, it's quite narcissistic.  I mean, it's all  But, something must be working because readership is up.  There are even more stats to view now than when I started this sucker.  I can see which days and features of the week are most popular. 

If you pay attention to this nonsense, you will know that there is a distinct format to this blog.  Videos on Mondays and Saturdays.  This Date in History every Wednesday.  Visual gags on Fridays like funny mug shots or bad yearbook photos, except for that one week every month where I dissect what's playing at the movies that weekend.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are writing tasks.  Whatever is on my mind.  From movie reviews to rants about bad behavior by the American public.  Heck, there's always plenty of the latter.

I realize that this once-eclectic blog has a very distinct pattern.   Predictable in its own unpredictability.

And, then, of course, there is the Sunday Memory Drawer.  It started very simply.   I was remembering Sunday afternoons with my grandmother.  She was seated in her rocking chair by the window.  I would likely be sprawled out on her sofa.   She would start telling me stories from the past.  I would eagerly listen.  It might be something that happened a year ago or four decades ago.  I didn't care.

Effectively, these Sunday Memory Drawers have been my memoirs.  As if my life story is important to be documented.  But, when you get right down to it, everybody's story is important.  Mine.  Yours.  It's what makes up the fabric of our world.  Sometimes frayed.  Sometimes faded.  But never dull.

The Sunday Memory Drawer is the most widely-read entry of the blog every week.   I am heartened that people enjoy it.  I discover that, just like my grandmother used to repeat her tales, I have done the same.   Without knowing it, I have related the same saga more than once.  Didn't I already tell this story, I ask myself.  I have actually gone back into the archives and pulled out the earlier version.  Sometimes, I have forgotten an element of it.  Or, later on, remembered another part.

For me, the Sunday Memory Drawer has been therapeutic.  It has provided me with an inward analysis that is much cheaper than going to a Dr. Jennifer Melfi.  Many friends have pressed me over the years to stitch the stories together into a screenplay.  That process has finally begun.  And the in-depth analysis continues some more.  

I hope you have enjoyed this blog for seven years.  We've already started Year 8.  There are weeks when the hard drive in my mind can't conjure up a memory that is easily relatable.  Then, out of the clear blue sky, something happens and it brings me back to my youth or my high school years.  The keg is tapped and the beer flows.

So, as Johnny Carson used to do on his anniversary show every year, here's an old clip.  The very first Sunday Memory Drawer I ever wrote.  Sunday, October 5, 2008.  Fittingly, the centerpiece is my grandmother.  And the glorious pantry she had in her kitchen.

This room was a full-out treasure chest for me. Situated right off her kitchen, it was a full-sized room that had a counter where I could do homework. And there were shelves all the way up to the ceiling. Lots of places for me to hide whatever toy figurines or soldiers I was occupied with at the time. One side would hide behind the double boiler and the other would secrete themselves behind cans of Libby's vegetables. And I could hide myself in another corner and let it all play before me for hours and oodles of fun.

There were many other fringe benefits.

My grandmother baked every single Saturday morning and there was usually some sort of cake or pie stored there. Pieces disappeared regularly. And, of course, her Poppin' Fresh cookie jar was always loaded with Jane Parker or Ann Page's finest chocolate chip cookies. Only the best that the local A and P had to offer. I still have that cookie jar here in LA and it's always filled. With chocolate chip cookies. The tribute that just keeps on giving.

One day, I noticed something else. My grandmother would go into the pantry, hop on a stepstool, and reach up to the very top shelf. Where apparently she was keeping some very special chocolate bars.


It didn't take many days after this discovery before I wanted to tap into this reserve myself. If my grandmother was hiding this candy, it must be damn good.

The stepstool still left me about three shelves too short for the reach. So, I essentially climbed gingerly from one shelf to another. The Wallendas had nothing on me, especially if there was a tasty treat at the end of the stunt. I got to that chocolate and munched.

One piece and then another.

And then another.

She wouldn't miss a whole bar. I reasoned she probably had others stashed away all over the house.

And then it came.

Or, in reality, there it went.

About an hour later, I was sick to my stomach. And couldn't stop visiting a certain room in the house. Where I would be sitting and not standing.

It was so bad that I missed two days of school and even was summoned to appear before the always feared pediatrician, Dr. Fiegoli. Nobody had any answers and I certainly didn't make the connection.

Until my grandmother asked the question that begged for an answer.

"Who ate all my Ex-Lax?"
See you here tomorrow.  And, of course, next Sunday.

Dinner last night:  Reuben sandwich at Cafe 50s.

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