One evening I decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn't a moon so I reached into my coat pocket hoping to find a flashlight. Instead my hand found something familiar... A crayon.
Not just any crayon, but a crayon who claims to be "The" Purple crayon from a well know children's book.
The following is from our conversation.
David Goldin: You're really the crayon from the picture book? That was my favorite story.
Purple Crayon: "Yes, I worked with a kid named Harold a long, long time ago... ... 1955-63 ... that's around Fifty years ago. Harold needed a purple crayon and I fit the suit. Plus we got along famously. He had a bunch of crayons to choose from and he picked me. I'd like to think he picked me based on my artistic merits but probably it was just my good looks, distinguished chin and charming personality. Basically I was a vehicle for Harold's imagination. I wish I could have added a little more of my own perspective to the picture but... too many chefs... y'know."
Purple Crayon: "After teaming up with Harold I became a bit of a celebrity, in the crayon community at least.
While most people were off at school or work... living daily lives... I'd be with my friends partying 24/7 without a care in the world.
I was living the life...."
Purple Crayon: "... One day I woke up feeling Blue. Nothing significant was coming out of my efforts, just mindless scribbles and wasted wax.
I needed to find more meaning in life. It's been decades since working in publishing and now there are so many other shades of Purple to compete with - life just keeps getting more complicated. Amethyst, Eggplant, Indigo, Lavender, Lilac, Magenta, Mauve, Mulberry, Orchid, Plum, Pomegranate, Puce, Thistle, Violet... I could go on... I've got nothing wrong with colors mind you - some of my best friends are colors.
Purple Crayon: I decided to improve myself outside and in. A strict diet of nothingness, which is easy for crayons.
Deep soul searching... my inner-self ...stable.., calming aspects of blue combined with mystical and spiritual qualities of Purple, Warm Violet satisfying my need for reassurance in this complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement... That is SO me.
Purple Crayon: " I started a Yoga routine... ...it wasn't easy.
PLEASE DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! Crayons break easily.
Now when I get on a yoga matt I can twist myself into a pretzel."
David Goldin: What would you say your favorite thing to do is, besides draw?
Purple Crayon: "If I had to pick one thing... ... after all my years, travels, experiences,...
ups and downs,... I'd have to say,..."
Purple Crayon: "... going for walks on moonlit nights with friends."
35,000 ft in the air, I run out of the cockpit, uphill through first class,
the plane is beginning to dive. I'm 10 years old on my way from New York to stay with my Uncle,
a Nuclear Physicist working in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
"Stay out of trouble!" I'm told for the hundredth time as I check in. I'm flying alone.
The previous school year I spent every day in detention.
" Welcome aboard young man." It looks like it's going to be a good flight.
Ten is an awesome age to be. You are who you're going to be in life... ...before hormones start raging.
The flight starts out good, people are nice to me, John Denver is playing on the inflight radio, blue skies... and I manage to behave... for a short while...
"Is that issue #32 where Jughead and Reggie get caught wearing prom dresses?"
The stewardesses like me and keep bringing me things like pilot wings, playing cards, drinks, they sit with me and chat. ... then I break out the Malted Milk Balls.
One by one they join me and we gorge ourselves on Malted Milk Balls together. " Get these out of here - we have no will power."
Stewardesses at this date in time have strict weight policies and retiring age is 32 yrs. old. They're young, starving and hot.
The stewardess sitting next to me decides I have to meet the pilot and see the cockpit. We walk up the aisle and knock on the door at the front of the plane.
Next thing we're having a little party; the pilot, co-pilot and a few stewardesses and me, stuffing our faces with Malted Milk Balls and joking around. Nobody is paying attention to anything but the deliciousness of the exquisite Malted confections.
We fly straight into a thunderhead... lightning strikes the plane.
Lights flash, warning sounds are beeping and the plane begins to drop.
"Get him out of here!" the pilot screams as he tries to regain control of the plane.
I run out of the cockpit, up the aisle and buckle myself into my seat in coach.
The plane feels like it is falling out of the sky. Sh*t in your pants scary.
Drinks spill, things get tossed, over-head compartments open, things fall out.
I manage to not drop a single Malted Milk Ball.
The plane recovers, an announcement apologizes for the turbulence, and we glide into a beautiful blue sky landing in Albuquerque.
Exiting the plane the pilot and co-pilot are smiling and nodding like a couple of bobble-heads. I give them the last two Malted Milk Balls. My uncle is there waiting for me. We have to stop by his Nuclear Laboratory on the way home.
That's a place I could get into REAL trouble.
Haystacks Calhoun was a GIANT! Always wearing his bib overalls and trademark good-luck horseshoe hanging from a chain around his neck. Haystacks was 625 lbs and over six and a half feet tall. The barefoot hillbilly, raised on a farm in Arkansas went on to become one of the most popular wrestlers in the 1960s.
When I was a kid I saw him a few times on a grainy Black and White TV. The other night at a party I met someone who was friends with his driver. He told this story:
1425 lbs. of fun on wheels.
Haystacks led a nomadic life traveling for years to different wrestling gigs. His driver sat behind the wheel of the station wagon. He weighed 350 lbs. Behind him sat Mrs. Haystacks Calhoun. She weighed 450 lbs. and took up the WHOLE back seat. Haystacks himself would sit or lay in the rear of the car. One evening they drove to an " All you can Eat Buffet ".
Mmmmmm..... All you can eat Buffet!
I don't know how much the driver and the Mrs. ate, but I imagine they made a dent in the buffet. That night Haystacks ate thirty chickens and perhaps plenty of fixins. When the meal was over they were given the complimentary dessert - a Dixie cup with Ice Cream.
I scream, you scream, we all scream, for Ice Cream!
Haystacks asked for seconds of dessert and was told he'd have to pay for it. So he asked for ten more chickens... ...Haystacks got his ice cream!
The kid wandered into the room where the sketch book lay upon on a desk.
The blank pages were tempting, and the kid picked up a pen and scribbled his drawing over one page and across the next. Moments later, the pen was dropped and the kid ran off, never giving the picture another thought.
And that is how Gerald came to be.
A hideously deformed, top heavy scrawl of a shape. He appeared to have multiple protuberances, a hernia or two, and fistulas covering what you might call a body. He was horrible. He couldn’t stand to look at himself.
Over time, with great effort, he was able to unscrawl himself for long moments.
He could even look quite charming.... but the second he relaxed, even a little,...
back he would go to his natural hideous shape. Unhappy with his position in life Gerald grumbled and cursed, never putting aside his frustration to look within and perhaps see things differently.
This onerous existance caused him to be in quite a sour mood, he was always angry, sulky and mean. The one thing which gave him a remote feeling of happiness was to tease Sneb. Sneb was the scribble on the opposite page, and it gave Gerald a perverted sense of pleasure to constantly remind Sneb that he was even more twisted and grotesque than himself.
Sneb never seemed to mind. He had no one else to talk to, after all, and being tangled was actually quite comfortable to him. Sneb would tell Gerald of his dreams each morning, but Gerald would interrupt him mid-sentence.... “I’m sorry, were you saying something?”
"Look at yourself, you're pathetic!" Gerald would snap, as Sneb was trying to think of a word that rhymed with Orange.
Sneb enjoyed multiplying by thirds and hyphenating quadrants, which made no sense and drove Gerald insane.
There was a rumor circulating among the pages of the sketchbook.... the artist who spent his days filling it’s pages was going to disassemble the book! None of the drawings knew what this was going to mean.
The rumor turned out to be true. The day came, and each page was carefully separated from the others, placed in a frame, and hung on the wall.
All except Gerald and Sneb.
"Why didn't they hang us up?", wondered Sneb. " It's your fault! " Gerald hissed. " If I hadn't been next to such an ugly waste of ink I'll bet they would've hung me up too ". Crushed by such harsh words, Sneb tried to worm himself as far away from Gerald as he could. He slipped off the edge of the desk and onto the floor, out of sight.
Gerald arched and stretched, trying to make himself look more appealing. One of the pictures on the wall noticed, and yelled to the others, “Hey, look at that freak, he thinks he could be one of us”. Gerald scrunched up to escape the sound of their cruel laughter.
After spending a cold, lonely night without anyone to talk to, Gerald began to miss Sneb. He started to think of how mean he had been, so cruel to his only companion. He began to realize he might never see his friend again.
Suddenly, he was flying through the air, he was going to be on display after all! He was taped upon the wall in the back of the gallery. " Hey handsome", came a voice from the paper on the wall next to him. It was Sneb! For the first time in his life Gerald felt pure joy! And in just above a whisper he said, " I'm sorry ".
He saw how Sneb was a true friend and was never mean to him ever again. Except when Sneb sang show tunes.
1977 and I'm in the back of a cab going down Broadway and It's hot as hell. Back then there wasn't AC in a lot of cabs and it could feel like an oven. My driver was only a few years older than me, he's not wearing a shirt and sweating and cursing every other vehicle with a thick Bronx accent. He offers me one of his cans of Budweiser. We've got the radio blasting, we're drinking hot beer and he goes flying through a red light almost running over ten people in the crosswalk.
He should get a Speedo.
One of the pedestrians spit on the cab and my driver gets out and he's cursing, waving his can of beer around and about to kill the guy who spit. Then I see he's only wearing his underpants and high-tops. Nobody wants to get in a fight with a drunk, hot, sweaty guy in his tighty whiteys. He got back in and drove off before the cops came.