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The Surprise Place
The Surprise Place
My father had a weird sense of humor. Things that he found funny as a parent, sometimes seemed very awkward to me, if not a little demented. I now look back and am thankful of that sense of humor because it gives me so many great memories of him. He was a very good father and kind, loving husband. He believed fully in spare the rod, spoil the child, but he never over used it. This part of my life began in the fall of 1989.
I was four years old at the time. My parents were admitting me to a private school in kindergarten. This was going to be my first taste of the real world. Little did I know what all had to be done to get started. When my sister and I were growing up, we didn't get everything we wanted like a lot of kids get today. We usually had to work for what we got or do something really special. Bringing home a report card full of A's was not a guarantee that we would get any special reward. The few times that we were given a choice of what we would like to do, we would simply state that we wanted to go to, what we called, "The Movie Store". The Movie Store, however, was a VHS rental business about seven miles from our house. My sister loved movies and I loved Nintendo games. I probably rented and played every game they had in there throughout the years, which couldn't have been more than twenty-five games. Still, I loved to go to the movie store and rent each one over and over as many times as I could. Looking back, it seems like they would have saved more money by just buying me the game, but I guess it was a form of incentive for them. Either way, this "Movie Store" came to be known to us as "The Surprise Place".
As I said before, my father was a very kind person. He always loved to see his kids happy. Sometimes we would get to go to the Movie Store, directly after my sister got out of school, even if we had done nothing special. I think he must have had a good day when he took us like that. I can remember hopping up into that old red Ford pick-up truck, sitting in the middle seat, turning on the radio and hearing good old music from the 70's and 80's. He would reach over to turn the volume down and say, "What do y'all want to do today kids?" Of course we didn't care. We were with our Dad. That's all that really mattered to us. He would then say well how about we go to the surprise place. Immediately, we would start yelling like a pack of hoodlums. I don't think anything could match the joy we felt at that time. I just wish I still got that excited about renting a movie. And that is how the Surprise Place came to be, but the story takes a turn for the worse.
On this particular August morning, my father got us up, and after eating breakfast, told us to load up in the truck. We thought we were going to town as usual. School was out, so there was no telling where we would go. As we got about a mile down the road, he said "Who wants to go to the surprise place." Once again, we were won over immediately. This was a strong weapon of his before today. It seemed like if he ever wanted us to act like good little children, those are the only words that had to come out of his mouth. If we were fighting with each other, we automatically became the most loving brother and sister you had ever seen. As we rode through town, we both saw that we were passing the Surprise Place. With confused looks on our face we asked him where he was going. "Oh not that Surprise Place. There's a new place for today," he said. This only made us even more excited. What could be better than the Movie Store, we thought. So many things were running through our mind. Maybe we would go to the arcade or, dare I say, the Zoo.
The extreme exaggerations were wrong, as we pulled into a building directly behind the local grocery store. Neither one of us had ever been in here before. As we walked in the door, both of us could tell that this was some sort of medical center. However, we didn't worry because we both knew we weren't sick, so no harm could possibly come to us. Right? My sister and I were playing with the vision tester when my father grabbed me by the hand and told me to come with him. I still had no fear at this moment, holding to the fact that I was not sick, so nothing could happen to me. As we walked throught the door of the room, the nurse asked me to sit up on the seat. At this moment my mind started wandering. I could feel tears building up, but I was going to hold back until absolutely necessary. The necessary time came about thirty seconds later as I saw her with a nice large needle, squeezing the air bubbles out. When you're a kid, it always seems like the nurse has a sinister look on their face, right before they stick that needle in. This particular shot was given in the top portion of my thigh for some reason. As I can remember, it hurt terribly. I did make it through the shot and was given a nice bandaid and a sucker, only to find out I had to get another one in the other leg. Talk about playing with a kids emotions. The second one hurt even worse. I can remember leaving out of that doctor's office just boo hooing. I had my little sucker, but it wasn't making things better. I was deceived by my father. We hadn't went to the Surprise Place at all.
After leaving the "NEW" Surprise Place, we went to visit my mother at her work place. When she saw me in tears and the two bandaids on my thighs, her eyes nearly came to tears also. My dad had told her about what he did and I can remember her seeming frustrated at him. He was just laughing though and I couldn't understand why. After we left my mother, he then said "OK, who wants to go to the Surprise Place now?" Needless to say, there was no joy or anticipation. This made him laugh even more. He then drove up to the Movie Rental Store and told us to go get ourselves two movies a piece. Even though I was in excruciating pain, barely able to walk (I'm being sarcastic), I managed to hobble in and pick out my two rentals. The funny thing about the ride home, is that I forgot all about the shots before we even reached our driveway. It's funny how a simple movie can make a kid forget about anything.
Later my father told me that I was going to have to get the shots either way. I didn't understand why he deceived my simple mind at the time, but as I grew older it was obvious. I can just imagine having to listen to a squalling, begging kid all the way to town. He knew he was going to have to deal with me crying after the shot, but knew he would be able to silence me with a movie, so the only thing he needed was a distraction of where we were going. To some, this may seem like a cruel thing, but it has provided me a great memory for all time of my father.