Donatello. This was the dawning of the age of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. My childhood would not have been complete without these bodacious, pizza-eating, martial arts-fighting reptiles. Donatello was perhaps the most passive of the Turtles, but man, he could wield a wicked bo staff in his Nintendo Games. Two years later, the Vogeler Brothers would all get matching Turtle pajamas. Guess who got to be Michaelangelo--the "goofy one?" You got it.
Eric is a good name. I'm fairly certain that I could write my name this year. Bless my parents for endowing me with an easy-to-spell, four-letter name. Unfortunately, through most of my years at Bonneville Elementary, my name was a four-letter word as well.
Freedom! Well, not really, but close to it. This year marked my entrance into the world of literature. Hop on Pop, Are You my Mother?, and Goodnight Moon ranked high on the list of greats. In fact, they still haven't left the Eric cannonical shelf. They've just had their ranks joined by the likes of Shakespeare, Dunne, Wilde, Tolkien, Martin, and Brooks. If you don't understand why reading is freedom, you need to pick up a good book and immerse yourself in it. Christmas time is a perfect time to do this. Start with The Cat in the Hat and work up from there.
Great food = McDonalds. The chosen treat of the occasional time that we could convince Mom to take us to get Happy Meals, usually after swimming lessons on Fridays. I LOVED this stuff. Mostly the fries. Mom would have to make me finish the burger. Looking back, McDonalds is more of a nostalgic food than it is a quality food. It represents my childhood--days in the pool, watching Smurfs, playing games, running around half-dressed, making mischief. Maybe that explains why I cried every time I ate McDonalds in Brazil.
Heaven & Hell. The Mormon concept of eternal families was a litle bit daunting at the age of five. The thought of having to spend the rest of eternity with my immediate family could sometimes make me shudder. Especially if I had to put up with my annoying little brothers for the rest of forever. Also, I didn't consider myself a great candidate for eternal life in heaven, as I was sure I had messed up at some point along the road. The concept of forgiveness, as you could probably imagine, was AMAZING to me! I didn't really know how to do it, but I thought that being able to have the slate wiped clean was pretty incredible. I still do. And I'm still really bad at it. Oh well, one learns, right?
Itchy Bombs. These were the lethal, appropriately named seeds from the huge trees which towered over Bonneville Elementary when I first started Kindergarten. Stuffed down an unsuspecting child's shirt, they literally exploded with dry plant matter that sent you scratching to the secretary's office. We loved them. Still do. (Forgiveness was in the back of my mind when these were deployed. Still is).
Jason, Jonathon, Joshua, J.P., (Ben and Chad, too). Growing up I had a plethora of male cousins, many of whom had names beginning with "J." I referred to them as "the Boys." It's kind of funny now, since at the time, there were three Vogeler Boys--plenty to refer to ourselves as "the Boys." But these guys served as my surrogate older brothers. They probably didn't know it, but I looked up to, respected, and loved them more than they could ever know. Still do. Which is probably to what I owe my allegiance to potty humor, obnoxiousness and/or sarcastic self-deprication.
Kirsti and Heidi. My older sisters. I have pictures of them dressing me up in pink pajamas. I have fond memories playing My Little Pony, Rainbow Bright, and Care Bears with them. It is, therefore, very fortunate that I had older boy cousins, and later, younger brothers with whom to express my deep-rooted man-nature. Attempted emasculation aside, my sisters are two of the greatest girls I've ever met. Ever.Legs. At this age, most adults were better represented by their legs than any other distinguishing characteristic. My dad was the pair of legs that I got to hug when the low-voice came home in the late afternoon. Mom was the pair of legs that I got to sit on in church. Mama and Papa were the legs that took me to the zoo or had me over for lunch on a Saturday afternoon. Grandma was the pair of legs with a thick Norwegian accent who came over often to babysit. Everyone else was a pair of legs with a voice. This mode of identification often proved problematic when in large crowds. Mikee. My youngest and dumbest brother was born this year, effectively solidifying my position in the middle of the family, dooming me to a future of trying to be louder/funnier/more charismatic than everyone else in hopes of getting attention and/or food at the dinner table. After my experience with Timmy, Mikee came as a welcome respite. I remember having to spend the night at Mama and Papa's house while mom went to the hospital. This was especially exciting because I got to leave church early. Mikee started life on the right foot.
Nepotism. Dad always selected me for the "best" jobs--ie, those jobs that required small hands to complete. Later in life, this would be upgraded to "those jobs that Dad didn't want/have time to do." My favorite? Knocking old mortar chips off of used cinder blocks. That 2.00 dollars an hour was non-negotiable, and some of the best money I'd ever seen. It mostly went towards Star Wars trading cards. I still have a Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Ben Kenobi, and Darth Vader somewhere.
Orange Soda. Loved the stuff. Still love the stuff. Back in the day, it was Orange Crush. Now it's mostly just Orange Fanta. All I knew was that it was good stuff.
Painting. With fingers. This is the stereotypical pre-school/kindergarten activity. I don't remember ever doing it. In fact, I'm pretty sure that any teacher with the courage to set little Eric Vogeler loose with finger paints while wearing clothes and surrounded by 20 other little kids should have been working the Westside beat or locked up somewhere near Draper.
Quintessential. Again, a word far too large for my 5-year-old vocabulary, but it describes my Kindergarten experience perfectly: I went to Bonneville Elementary for PM Kindergarten with Mrs. Waterworth. We sang songs, had nap time, drank milk and ate cookies, listened to stories on the magic carpet, learned letters and numbers, and played tag at recess. We dressed up for Halloween, sang Christmas and Hanukkah songs in December, made Valentine's cards in February, wore green in March, and had an Easter Egg hunt in April. I think I enjoyed it. Looking back, I wish I could do it right now. I know people who would pay thousands of dollars for these kinds of activities on a cruise boat in the middle of the Caribbean.
Reality Bites. This lesson was first driven home when I tried to climb up the slippery part of the slide at Davis Park. Living up to its billing, I slipped on the slippery part, cracked my jaw on the steel (they don't make steel slides much any more) and damaged my inner ear. I remember very clearly that it hurt. A lot. Other bits of reality that I came to recognize this year: Mud makes you dirty; kids can be mean to each other; pulling out teeth--even baby teeth--is a bad idea when your tooth is attached by a string to a doorknob; asphalt was designed to provide traction for cars and business for kid-sized tweezer makers; hot metal burns you; cold metal burns you; snow is soft unless thrown at your head at a great velocity; water is fun to play in; mud is fun to play in; mud often leads to water, and water to mud; the kids you want to be your friends are the ones with the coolest toys or the ones that live closest to you; girls are weird; Nintendo is synonymous with both "fun" and "killer of time" in Japanese; money requires work, unless your parents are trying to teach you a listen or just think you're cute; Halloween is the GREATEST HOLIDAY OF ALL TIME!!!; Reading is difficult until you get good at it, and even then, is only fun with a good book; the Berenstein Bears are way too perfect; there is nothing better in this world than watching a movie with popcorn and people you love all around you.
Superman. Best. Superhero. Ever. Full. Stop.
Transformers. They're more than meets the eye. Sadly, the original cartoon outshined the late big screen adaptation in terms of dialogue, script, storyline, and quality. To add insult to autobot, the original toys were freaking DIE-CAST METAL. My Optimus Prime weighed like 5 pounds. Now, Transformers break if you look at them cock-eyed. I know. I just tried.
Utah Mormons. I remember being asked by Dave Johnson what religion I was. I didn't know what he was talking about. He said what Church do you go to? I said "The Red One." He said, no, no...are you Mormon or Lutheran? I thought about it for a moment, and assuming that everyone went to the same church on Sundays and sat through the same boring meetings that I did, figured that the cooler sounding name was probably the best choice to go with. "Lutheran" I proudly declared. Cool, said Dave, I'm Mormon. Let's go play.
Vogeler! Best. Last. Name. Ever. Full. Stop.
Winter. This was, by far, the best of the four seasons, mostly because the two best holidays of the year fell at this time: My Birthday and Jesus' Birthday. Both entailed gift giving. Both happened at about the same time. Both involved very important people. Coming in at a close second, third, and fourth, respectively: Summer, Spring, and Fall.
X-Rays. Every young boy dreamed of having the chance to take x-rays of some broken part of his body. It was cool. It was manly. We never thought you'd have to go through a lot of pain to partake in X-rays. But the eventual cast and the attention it garnered you was well worth it. Still is.
You. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you were at least alive or being thought of in 1987. If not, I'm flattered. Now, get to bed!
Zelda. Best. Nintendo. Game. Ever. Full. Stop.