While cleaning out Mum’s garage after she passed, I came across an old, black vinyl bank envelope, First American Title Company gold emblem on the front, zipper open, overflowing with papers, books, and seemingly hundreds of random clippings of Three Dog Night concert publicity ads. A manila envelope stood out from the rest with my name written across the top. “Goldmine,” I thought. I quickly placed what appeared to be a priceless treasure trove into my Prius for a later investigation.
A few months later, when I finally felt emotionally equipped to inspect such past paraphernalia, I pulled the mysterious envelope out. My name was on it, after all. No need to feel as if I'm committing espionage now, though I often feel as such when examining Mum's things.
Mixed in with clipped coupons for items such as No nonsense pantyhose (expiration date 09/30/83), Purina 100 cat food (expiration date 11/30/83), and Cocoa Puffs breakfast crack (NO EXPIRATION DATE!), was an invitation from my second grade teacher, Miss Scott, to join my classmates on a summer field trip to quietly, and in single file line, invade the USS Kitty Hawk Naval aircraft carrier.
After curiously pondering the fact that I'd never known Mum to use a coupon, not to mention what they were doing in a manila envelope with my name on it, a wave of resentment suddenly and surprisingly hit me as I was reminded the reasons given as to why I was not allowed to join the mob on that highly anticipated incursion.
The engine room beckoned my inner-most seven-year-old curiosity contraption. I wanted to witness first-hand those waterproof doorways Miss Scott so eloquently described. What did twenty stories above water look like, exactly? At what length would the flight deck have to be in order to launch a supersonic F-14 Tomcat from it without it landing on the ocean floor?
Though a decidedly peculiar topic of study in the second grade, I'd become obsessed. The carrier's identifying number, 63, became etched in my mind and I still refer to it as lucky and use it for pass codes and such.
My lack of freedom to pursue this intriguing special interest came in the form of a completely foreign concept and belief system. Mum and Nana whole-heartedly believed Miss Scott, with her tight-to-scalp red curly locks, elongated face, large teeth, and mint-green polyester garb that went swish-swish-swash when she walked, had 'a thing' for Papa. I seem to recall her asking him once to don his uniform in class for show and tell; he was a Navy man after all. So Mum and Nana didn't fancy Miss Scott in the least bit, and were quite insistent on keeping me from attending the military ship overtake extravaganza.
I cried. A lot.
Cocoa Puffs. Hmm. This could be fun.