Notes on the Ceramic Apple

1. The Ceramic Apple, as we called it, was a junk drawer-type vessel on top of the refrigerator when I was a kid. It’s where we kept coupons and baubles and paper clips.

1a. I couldn’t reach up and bring it down for years. It was a hobby of mine to stand on a stool, take the lid off, and and dig around inside, to put my hand in and feel tacks prick my finger or get stuck with Super Glue.

2. Then one day, I guess I was 16, I took the Ceramic Apple down and found a photo, stuck against the bottom, face-down.

2a. I was surprised to find this photo, given my past relationship with the Ceramic Apples, years after the fact.

2b. I knew immediately what it was from: the Fourth of July parade, 1982, in Maryville, Tennessee, a small town located on the eastern tip of the state.

3. Our family was visiting distant relatives, on my father’s side of the family.

4. In the photo, I am 14.

4a. I sit on the curb watching the parade go by.

5. The first thing I noticed were my skinny legs, how they were so wide-flung in red shorts with white piping.

5a. They looked like women’s legs.

6. My mom took the photo. She told me later that she wished to chronicle her son on vacation from across the street.

7. That’s not the only thing she chronicled.

7a. The second thing I noticed was that both of the my hairless testicles were hanging out of my shorts.

7b. You didn’t have to squint. They were plainly visible from across the street.

7. My gonads, in fact, appeared as the locus point of this patriotic tableau.

8. Why, oh why, did my mother hold onto this photo of my giggleberries?

8a. What compels a parent to keep a photo like this, tucked under tacks, spare batteries, orphaned birthday candles?

9. And how could I have not have noticed, or at least my dangling man sac, the gentle breezes as whole Volunteer State color guards passed, the flag-bearers distracted by his sagging family jewels?

10. It was the time of the World’s Fair, held in nearby Knoxville.

10a. Its theme: “Energy Turns the World.”

10b. The first sentence of the fair’s programme: “Human Energy has sparked a metamorphosis here.”

11. This was the day I met my distant cousins.

12. One, a dashing young man named “Dicky Bird” Nester, owned a speedboat and was my new hero.

13. I discussed with Dicky Bird my experiences in junior high band, and how I played trombone.

13a. We never went on his speedboat. We ate chicken-fried steak and collared greens. Everyone’s name was David or Bobby. Even the women. We visited my great-grandmother. She dipped snuff and gave my sister and I little Milky Ways.

13b. Another relative led my mother on a tour of his backyard garden.

13c. “This here’s okry,” he said. My mom didn’t understand. It was okra.

14. I wrote a poem about this experience of finding the photo. It made Sharon Olds snort and laugh and that made me proud. I would like to find this poem again someday but fear it’s not as good as I remember.

14a. I submitted it to literary journals. Lots of them. I stuffed it into envelopes with other poems to faraway places.

14b. One editor offered to publish on the condition I sign up for one of her private workshops.

15. I do know my poem ends with mentioning I was still able to play one song on the trombone, the bass part to the famous Coke commercial.

16. “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” is part of Coke’s “The Real Thing” campaign.

17. In one clip, you see children from different parts of the globe hold up their soda bottles and candles and sing for the camera.

17a. Not one pair of testicles is visible.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Notes on the Ceramic Apple

  1. Do you have anything to do with the related articles? Haven’t read them, but the titles are intriguing: SUNDAY READER:The Scrotum Is Nuts (forums.pinstack.com)
    Poet To Sell Testicles To Finance Tour (uniquedaily.com)
    Why is one testicle hanging lower than the other? (boysbeauty.wordpress.com)
    Can you help launch the world’s first testicle shaped hot air balloon? (mensconferenceuk.wordpress.com)
    Testicles Have Taste Receptors, And They May Be Pretty Important To Fertility (geekosystem.com)

  2. Those links are hand-picked, as it were, by myself, from a selection that appears before I post. It’s a service/add-on from WordPress.

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