The Spatula Of My DreamsWednesday, October 17, 2012
In all this I was the nerd who wore Argentine jeans (they looked like fakes because they were so) and I was almost the class nerd. I remember another boy called Pedro who was the nerd. When he stood at attention in the filas before we were herded into our classrooms his knees bent the other way. In his short pants (most of us wore short pants) he looked terribly funny. There were two girls in the class that I secretly admired. One was a blonde called Mary Lou Chase and the other a fine brunette, Susan Stone.
Somehow my mother had arranged that Susan's father (head of General Motors Argentina) would send his Cadillac to collect me so that I could spend the day with her. Her house was a mansion and they had something called television. I have no idea if Susan’s pleasant behaviour towards me was urged by her parents or that she either genuinely liked me or felt sorry for me.
At age 10 I would get into bed and attempt to dream about these two girls. The dreams never got anywhere. My scenarios did not prosper and I would just fall asleep. It was at age 10 that I discovered the dreams could not be generated into existence and that they were mostly random.
Perhaps my heavy duty arthritis medicines are the cause of the intense and strange dreams that I have had in the last couple of years. Because, as the old man that I am, I get up three or four times per night I have the chance to think about these dreams as they fade so quickly while I attempt to empty my troublesome bladder. My female cat Plata joins me and jumps on the sink and demands I pour fresh water into the mug I use to wash out my mouth after I brush my teeth. She is 14 and this indicates her kidneys may be about to fail. I welcome her comforting presence as I dissect my dreams.
In many ways I can force moments of nostalgia by thinking about nostalgic events of my past life. But I have discovered much more recently, that memories like dreams can happen randomly and that they are generated, as I illustrate here, by unexpected and innocuous objects like a spatula.
My mother was always a spatula freak. She was not a very good cook but she made beautiful lemon meringue pies. I licked the remnants of the lemon filling with the spatula she always handed me. Our kitchen drawer always had at least two. I marveled at how a spatula could to remove every little bit of my father’s wonderful gravy (I inherited his talent for making gravy) from the frying pan.
The spatula, I saw it then, had that air of efficiency. It is an example of perfect design that would have been lauded by Cliffton Web's role of Frank B. Gilbreth in the 1950 film Cheaper by the Dozen.
|Alex W-H (left) aka Hopalong Cassidy & Susan Stone, extreme right|
The spatula here is a new one I recently purchased at Ikea. For the last few years my granddaughter Lauren has not only used our old spatulas to lick up the ice-cream containers but she has also been biting off the rubber tips. She does the same with pencil erasers (I used to do that, too).
Every time I now open the cutlery drawer and see the bright blue spatula my mother’s face appears automatically. I welcome this. Now if I could only conjure, in my sleep, Susan Stone and Mary Lou Chase!
The other scanned item is my mother’s Sterling silver hand mirror. She always used to check on the hair bun she always wore on the back of her head. She used to complain of her straight hair and how unmanageable it was. I have the mirror in my living room coffee table (made of a large piece of plate glass over one of my grandmother’s Chinese, sandalwood chests). I use the mirror with my subjects that I photograph in my home studio in the red shawl series. They can hold the mirror in front of them and check out the draping of the red rebozo.