It was an evening the now 21-year-old girl remembered of her past, but she often wondered if the memory truly existed or if she had fabricated the memory after years of having the story recounted to her by her parents. Pictures of her from 1997, the year of the memory, were abundant, and so perhaps she had combined the story and the pictures to concoct a faux memory, instilled by the clever brain which tricks our perceptions for mere recreation.
Real or imagined as a memory now, the evening had actually happened. The 21-year-old girl was much younger in the memory, only a few years old and standing on her living room couch. A toddler, she bounced lightly upon the cushion in the casually restless way children occupy space. The couch was a quilted blue pattern, with plaid cream-colored stripes laid like a grid upon the cushions, and it faced a Zenith television which sat bulbous upon a small wooden TV stand.
The girl divided her attention between all the stimuli in the living room. The television was playing Happy Days re-runs, and the young redheaded girl watched Richie with awe, feeling inexplicably connected to him by his bright red hair. Her mother sat beside her on the couch, one arm resting on the back of the couch seemingly in a relaxed manner, but strategically placed to catch the girl should her inexperienced legs give out. The girl gave attention to her mother, as well, occasionally bouncing over to her lap for a brief sit. And the girl’s father claimed some of her attention as he played with a soft, palm-sized ball with a basketball pattern, shooting it with a gentle pump towards the miniature plastic basketball hoop affixed to the overhead beam of the living room entryway.
That evening slipped into darkness swiftly and a yellow light overhead lit the room with a harsh glow. The girl’s father, who was a seasoned amateur basketball player, shot the ball with both hands behind his back, with a dolphin-like thrust of his body, and the ball hit the “backboard” and ricocheted back. Not discouraged, he scooped the ball from the carpet, spun, and scored an easy lay-up.
The girl’s attention was now entirely with her father, forgetting good ol’ Richie and dreamy Fonzie. Even as a young girl, she was drawn to the effortless swagger of that dark-haired character, and his slick black leather jacket. She was captivated by his coolness. She wanted a leather jacket.
But now Fonzie was nothing to her, as the three-year-old hopped on the couch and watched her dad gracefully deliver the ball through the hoop time and time again. Her high braided pigtails flopped with her vertical movement and she absentmindedly scratched her stomach under her Batman t-shirt. The shirt displayed Batman and Robin full-bodied in a side-by-side running position; the sleeves were red and the shirt a static gray. It had been a hand-me-down from one of her four elder cousins–like many of her clothes which she received from those boys.
Her mother watched her more than she watched the television. The little girl was positioned between her parents, so her back was to her mother as she was entertained by her father.
“Why don’t you sit down, sweetie,” her mother finally requested. She gently rested a hand on the little girl’s side to guide her into a seated position.
But the girl resisted by bouncing off to the next cushion over.
“Hey,” her mother said sternly.
Something was forming in the girl, though, an interest that piqued itself into the next stage: desire. As she watched her dad laugh and run around with the ball by himself, the girl had the feeling of wanting to join in. She wanted to shoot the fabric basketball at the plastic hoop. She wanted to go chasing after it once she scored or missed. She wanted to pass the ball back and forth. To participate. To not be left out.
She did not vocalize this, though. Communication was not yet something she had learned to be proficient at–could muster the basics and beyond, but the ideas in her head meshed with the ideas spoken into existence and so she could not discern the distinction between her thoughts and her spoken words. It was all a part of a vivid perception of her life.
And so when she yelled at her father for monopolizing the basketball–for not sharing–, her parents stopped and asked her, “What dear?”
Her mother had inched closer to her and the girl leaped in place on her cushion.
“Quit being so hoggy-show!” she cried to her father.
“What?” he asked.
“Hoggy-snow?” her mother asked, frowning closely at her.
The girl sighed robustly. “NO! Hoggy-show!”
The parents exchanged a look of confusion. What was their daughter so upset about? They only slightly understood her mumbled grasp of the English language, and even with their best translation of her words, they still didn’t make sense.
“Hoggy-show?” her father repeated carefully.
“Yes! Quit being so hoggy-show!” the little girl said with an attitude, her bouncing ceased and her arms flopping to her sides.
Her parents shared a shrug of defeat and accepted the girl’s madness. However, in an attempt to clarify her frustration, her mother asked, “What do you mean?”
The girl set in on explaining in the repetitive, stuttering way children convert their thoughts into speech. “He’s–dad’s–he’s keeps hogging–he’s hogging the ball and no one–I can’t–he won’t share. He’s being hoggy-show.”
The room suddenly decompressed as an understanding washed over her parents.
“Ohhhh,” her father said. “I see. I’m being hoggy-show because I’m hogging the ball.”
Duh, thought the girl. I just said that!
He smiled and handed the ball to her, and she scrambled off the couch and over to the hoop, any negativity festering in her immediately dissipating and replaced by giddiness. The hoop comically towered above her, and she stood directly beneath it staring straight up. Just as she was about to chuck the ball in the air, her father scooped her up by her elbows and raised her to the hoop so that she merely had to drop the ball in to score. Her giggles were incessant as the ball swished towards the ground.
The memory has no prequel, and no epilogue in the now 21-year-old girl’s mind. It merely exists as a clip of her childhood, cut out and preserved because of its legacy, because the little girl did not know it at the time, but her inventiveness with the English language so delighted her parents that they adopted “hoggy-show” as an adjective in their vocabulary, to pay tribute to their daughter and that humble, cozy evening.
The girl at present often considers her early years of life, the blotted-out existence of her childhood in her memory. Although she experienced many things during toddler-ship, she cannot recall most of it. It is her same life, her same body, her same mind and heart that experienced all those activities and encounters that her younger self did, yet the memories are as distant from her as the moments themselves, as though she was a separate person during those inconceivable youthful years of life. How strange to be unaware of a chunk of one’s life, she ponders, feeling peculiar about that certain loss. Yet she decides to conclude this musing for the day, so as to not be hoggy-show of one’s time atop her soapbox.