Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Autobiography of Someone Else - 5

The remote control was in my sister's hands. She held it to her chest, preciously, and without hesitation I grabbed for it, trying to gain purchase on a corner of the black rectangle edged in chromed plastic, prying at her damp and dirty fingers, surprisingly tenacious, the golden retriever Alex peering at us, tongue extended; I was about to give up when it broke free and fell softly in the burgundy shag. We scrambled for it, exclaiming angry nonsense, cries of ill will and dismay: Give it! Give it! Give it! No! No! No!

It was never over until someone got hurt. Pain was the solemn and incontestable signal to progress to the next step in a program of events, the chime in the filmstrip of our lives. If no one got hurt, nothing new would ever happen. Often there were tears. Sometimes there was blood. So it was that my sister konked me on the side of the skull with the flat of the remote. It was OK. It was over now. It was time to watch TV.

She pointed the remote with an overhand dipping motion, like a magic wand. A tiny dot appeared in the middle of the emptiness, a singularity. In an instant, light and color and form and motion expanded to the edges of the screen, and words and music burst forth, too. It was 7:59 am, the penultimate. The last commercial before the show.

A boy and a girl riding skateboards; the girl complains she's "getting hot and thirsty."

They cry out into the void: "Hey Kool-Aid!"

Their savior appears at once, bursting through a wooden fence and past astonished workmen, lumbering down a hill, an enormous jug with legs and cartoony feet. He bears a real jug of purple drink in his rubbery paw. Glasses filled with ice have materialized in the children's hands. Kool-Aid Man fills them up and the kids quench themselves greedily.

"Tastes great! Our friend's cool," says the girl.

"Our friend's Kool-Aid," says the boy.

"Kool-Aid brand soft drink mix!" says the girl.

Oh yeah, Kool-Aid's here bringin' you fun
Kool-Aid's got thirst on the run
Get a big, wide, happy, ear-to-ear Kool-Aid smile!