THE PARTS OF MY SUM

by Ross Sharp

Role models. Everyone should have ‘em.

So we’re told.

For the kiddies, you see.

For the kiddies who need someone to look up to, to emulate, heroes whose achievements are so astonishing in breadth, in impact, that the mere mention of their names will send our children’s nape hairs aflutter and beg them take leave of their loved ones to bravely venture forth and conquer territories unknown …

“Up your arse, mum and dad! I’m off to be an astromanaut!”

“Well, Ma, at least he ain’t on drugs …

… A recent item on ABC radio about the enthusiasm of children for collecting trading cards threw up some memories from my own childhood, the role models from my formative years if you will, those people who ignited my youthful passions, back when passions had nothing at all to do with lips and loins and everything to do with a Streets Vienna Chocolate and a packet of trading cards with powdery pink bubble gum inside….

I collected cards for The Monkees.

God only knows whatever happened to those cards, because they’re probably worth a tidy little sum now. I used to have a battery-run Monkee-mobile, too. It had a tiny little record player in it, an actual little plastic record player with a little plastic record on it and when you turned the car on, the theme from the television series would play. It sounded like crap, but I thought it was absolutely fucking amazing.

They put a record player in a toy car!? How about that?!

Michael Nesmith was my favourite Monkee.

But, unlike Nesmith, I never wore a beanie. Being a young, impressionable fan is one thing. It’s quite another altogether to be getting around as a kid looking like a fucking goose.

When I was very young, Mr. Squiggle was a favourite. This would’ve been early 1960’s.

Mr. Squiggle. A puppet with a pencil for a nose. And attention deficit disorder.

It was a long time ago.

I don’t have attention deficit disorder.

I can be a little vague sometimes, that’s about it.

I was also nuts about “Superman”. The old George Reeves serial from the ‘50’s. Which, like every other serial and show from that time, seemed to be on perpetual repeat weekday afternoons throughout the 1960’s. And no matter how many times you’d seen an episode, you’d watch it again and again and again and again and again and it was always just as good each and every time around.

George Reeves went and topped himself. Apparently, he was a little miffed he couldn’t get out of the Superman thing and do some serious acting, broaden his range of roles. Did you know George Reeves appeared briefly in “Gone With The Wind”?

Now you do. 

How about that?

There’s this other George I liked who also topped himself, George Sanders. I found out about George Sanders later in my teens, when I was watching a lot of old movies on television, courtesy of Bill Collins. Sanders left a suicide note behind that read, “I’m am leaving because I am bored.”

I like that.

That’s classy.

Daffy Duck I loved. I reckon you’re either a Warner Bros. person or a Disney person, and I’m definitely the former. I could never understand a fucking word Donald Duck ever said and Mickey Mouse’s voice gave me the creeps. The oozing creeps, like you’re in a public toilet taking a pee and you get the feeling the guy next to you is paying a little too much attention, you know? That’s the effect Mickey Mouse had on me.

But Daffy Duck? What’s not to like!!?

A narcissistic nutbag duck with an unfortunate tendency to blow his own beak off with a shotgun occasionally.

I can relate to that.

Who else?

Elvis Presley.

Crappy movie Elvis Presley.

I saw ‘em all. Times over. Saturday, Sunday afternoons on free-to-air television, crappy Elvis movies all day long, sometimes they’d throw in an Abbott & Costello. There I am, glued.

And lovin’ it.

Abbott & Costello never met Elvis, did you know?

Neither did I.

I don’t know if Elvis Presley was a role model, but I do remember being about 8, 9 years old and wanting sideburns and a big sparkly belt.

I never got those. I’ve never had a big sparkly belt and as I got a little older I couldn’t quite see the point of sideburns. If I want a hairy mat on my cheek I’ll stick my head between a wo …

Never mind.

Eventually, my role model became a fat, sweaty parody of himself and dropped dead on a toilet while reading a book about Eastern mysticism or Zen karate or something like that.

While I’m at it, just generally farting about here and on a random note, did you know the first twelve-inch vinyl album I bought was Miklos Rosza’s soundtrack to “Ben Hur”?

What the fuck?

Also, I used to tape themes from television shows with an old portable cassette player and a hand-held microphone. Didn’t matter what the show was, if it had a theme, I’d tape it. I had a whole bunch of these cassette tapes, each one painstakingly compiled and annotated.

I’d listen to them, too. While I was doing homework.

Where was I?

Oh, yes.

Role models.

So.

My role models as a child, those individuals who could effortlessly command my attention at whim, who stirred my youthful enthusiasms and set my soul afire with inspirational thoughts of doing great deeds in the world and for the benefit of humanity at large were a cynically fabricated pop group, a pencil-nosed puppet with ADD, a chunky bloke who wore tights for a living and shot himself in the head, a psychopathic duck and a fat guy who kicked the bucket taking a crap.

These are the people who made me the man I am today.

How about that?

I have nothing further to add.

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