On the Air!
It's the Yard Yeti Radio Show, starring me, your favorite Yard Yeti and my co-host and resident sound engineer, my pet parakeet Pepper. (Cue the Noon whistle!)
"Tick tock goes the clock...time won't stand still. But we can...let's catch up." (My signature opening line)
It's Yard Yeti Time!
The weather report: Cold winds are blowing in from the North. Shivering trees shedding leaves in calico patterns across the road. Branches suddenly bare.
The traffic report: Not a car in sight.
The hospital report: Except for the 1AM arrival of Zoey Zinnia, daughter of Yard Yeti, Zelda Zinnia, all is quiet. All is well.
The Flickering Flame is flickering, but the sign in the restaurant window reads "Closed Until Further Notice". The Ben Franklin windows are dark. The Coast-To-Coast store is shuttered. The street is still.
No sign of Mayor Yoo-Hoo nor Officer Gilbert Dewey.
A casual observer might think that the town simply curled up and blew away, just like the leaves blowing past my window. But here, in my studio suite on the second floor over the Ace Plumbing Company, I can see the big blue neon sign flashing just around the corner. A quick scoot down Main Street, then a left at the bank on the corner. You can't miss the bank because there is a clock jutting out over the doorway and the hands are straight up, palms together, as if in prayer, signaling...Noon...Coming Soon...
And today, that means you are just in time for the Yard Yeti Storytelling Hour.
A Yard Yeti Once Upon A time Tale.
It goes something like this...
She was eight or nine or ten.
It doesn't matter where. It doesn't matter when.
She was in a place many others have been.
So I will tell you my version of the events that transpired, and let you fill in the blanks I may or may not miss.
Once upon a time, in a city much larger than this, with buses and cars and the busyness of life, she walked to school. She walked to church. She walked to the library and the park. She walked the sidewalks in the light and in the dark. Block after block of pavement beneath her feet. The sidewalks made of blocks of concrete. A gouge separating each slab marked by an insignia of the men who poured the concrete and the date it was laid. She knew that it took two full strides to cross each square. But occasionally, no, truly, quite often, her mind would wander and her foot would land on a crack.
To see her making her way across town, one might assume she was filled with purpose. A singleness of mind to go from here to there. While there was a definite destination, her secret aspirations played out like a movie reel inside her head. For on this journey of steps, her imagination traveled unimaginable distances. From here to anywhere.
Her father, a succinct man, of few but powerful words, taught her well. Always, he said, walk with purpose, with a sure and confident stride, but only where you are sure of yourself and your surroundings.
Her stride was practiced, from walking by his side. Her purpose was sure, from mimicking his posture. Beside him, she was sure of herself. Alone, however, she was not.
So, on her walks, from here to there, one day she stepped on a crack, broke no one's back, and the projector whirred, the lights flickered, and the images appeared on the screen behind her eyelids. It was the beginning of storytelling hour.
She loved words. Words in print. She spent hours and days and weeks in the library. She did not read stories, she fell into them. Lost herself on the page. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Yearling. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. "B" Is For Betsy. Madeline's Rescue. Pippi Longstocking. The Borrowers.
She adored music. Words in the air. She memorized the lyrics and moved to the beat of the song. She listened to the radio late at night and longed for a transistor radio to carry in her pocket.
Words and music carried her far and wide. Her stage much too large for the TV screen, and at that time, in her apartment, her home, would have been in only black and white. The world, her world, her walking world, was in technicolor and stereo sound. It lived in her head and one other place. On the big screen.
She stepped on a crack and broke her concentration.
Right in front of the Lake Theater. She had to step back to take it all in. The iconic blue neon letters, each one taller than she. The single screen and the 1400 seat movie theater with the plush velvet seats and the art deco lights along the walls. The theater where popcorn drizzled with real butter cost twenty-five cents. Red licorice whips a penny a piece.
She had to lean her head back, careful not to step into traffic, to see the marquee.
Huge posters of palm trees and Mitzi Gaynor in short white shorts, a sailor's shirt knotted and tied around her waist. A volcano in the distance aglow in the light of the setting sun.
On the way home, she stopped in the record store and asked if there was music. South Pacific music. There was, so she sat in a little glass booth and listened to "Some Enchanted Evening" over and over for free, until a knock on the glass partition made her realize she had become unaware of her surroundings, but very sure of herself.
That night, at the dinner table, an eight almost nine year old cock-eyed optimist, tried to tell everyone seated at the table, what she had seen, and what she had heard, and what did they think it was like, inside that theater, and where was the South Pacific, and how did volcanoes erupt, and what exactly is an optimist.
Her father listened, then looked her right in the eye and said, an optimist is someone who wishes for things they might have, but probably never will.
Something stirred in her heart, as she matched his stride and softly replied, " Well I am an optimist, and I wish I had a ticket to see South Pacific...I may not have one now...but someday, somehow, I'm pretty sure I will."
She hummed herself to sleep that night, to the tune of...
"This Nearly Was Mine"....
"One dream in my heart
One love to be living for,
One love to be living for,
This nearly was mine."
Saturday morning came and went. Just before lunch, her father walked into the room and told her to get her coat. We are going for a walk. Just us two. Not her brothers. Not her mother. Just us two.
They did not speak.
They strode. Block by block.
Step after step. In silence.
All the way to the Lake Street Theater.
They looked at the posters. Then her father took off his hat, put his hand on her shoulder and opened the door to the lobby. Popcorn in hand they were ushered to their seats. The theater was full. The lights went down and before the sights and sounds filled her mind, her father's words filled her heart.
He reached for his daughter's hand and whispered,
"You can't be sure of most things in life, but I am very sure of my love for you. "
Here in the studio, the blue light beckons through the open window. Last month, when the International Yard Yeti Convention was in town, some of the girls took a stroll down Main Street, and meandering as they are wont to do, they took a left turn at the clock on the corner and saw the little theater with its boarded up windows. Sometime and somewhere, between striding here and there, when the morning sun kissed the newborn sky, an iconic blue neon sign was erected. Inside a two hundred seat single screen theater filled with red velvet seats. Outside, on the marquee, in bold lettering, the words...
Pepper is perched on the shoulder of his favorite cock-eyed optimist. We are seated in the front row with our bags of popcorn drizzled with real butter, right next to Mayor Yoo-Hoo and his wife.
The lights are about to dim and the projector is whirring.
Pepper is humming "Bloody Mary" and I am...
Your secrets are safe with me.
Except for the ones I posted on the Internet.
This one Dad.
This one's for you.
For as the song says...