The Herb Alpert I was spinning earlier took me back to early childhood. My parents had a few of his records, and I would take one out and put it on the old KLH turntable with the multiple-record playing arm and listen, kneeling on the carpet exactly between the speakers to get the best of the stereo effect. My favorite was “Going Places”, with Herb on the cover in an old aerobatic plane.
For some reason I also remembered visiting my grandmother with my mother at around the same age (maybe 4). She lived in Leisure World in Seal Beach. My grandmother didn’t enjoy the company of children very much, but she would give me a Van de Kamps peanut butter cookie or two from the blue and white Dutch ceramic jar, and then I would go out and ride my tricycle slowly around the deserted sidewalks. The smokestacks of the power station off in the distance puffed out white clouds and I creaked about on the trike trying not to bother the other old people there.
The clock ticking on the bookcase next to me is loud in the night quiet. That’s a third childhood memory, of the big school clock on the wall as I looked down at my project or my text, and at the other kids around me, in my third grade classroom. I was sweaty and flushed from recess and it was hard to concentrate, but I tried to get my penmanship right while hoping that the clock would tick a little faster and I could leave.
Now the clock is ticking next to a man approaching middle age alone in the same town, in the same house, on the same couch. Maybe I should get the Herb Alpert records out and sit on the carpet again, and go places with Herb.