The Window

Why the window? Good question,that. Why choose “The Window” as a name for my website? Windows it seems, are important to people. We need them. We need light and air in our homes. We need to see. The view out our windows is important. Some people build their homes based on the view out the windows. Did you know that there is a list on the website “Ranker” of 50+ movies with the word “window” in the title? And another list of 50+ song titles. What is it about windows that we find so important, so intriguing? If you do a web search of windows you’ll find tons of information, as you will for nearly everything, but interestingly, the window has been used as metaphor more often than most other things. Why is this, do you think?

“The eyes are the window of the soul,” “A window to another world.” These sayings and more all encompass the window as a gateway of sorts. Windows can also be thought of as dividers or barriers to whatever is on the other side. Like a skin you can see through. Open that window, and you let in whatever is out there. Safety perhaps; a closed window keeps out the storm. Or a means of escape; climbing through the window to freedom, or love, or mystery. From, “The Raven,” by Edgar Allen Poe: “Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, in there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore” The window, as a metaphor has been used for countless reasons. A window into the mind is a metaphor for seeing or perceiving someone’s thoughts, emotions or motives. Looking, seeing, perceiving. All use the window as a device.

I have used the window in more than a few of my poems and stories. A quick search of the website shows 56 posts with the word, “window” in them. Some of it was metaphor, some not. For whatever the reasons, we seem to like the image of a window. Either an actual window, or the image that it portrays, the meaning behind it, what it stands for.

So those are the reasons for using the window as the name of this blog. Those and others I can’t even think of. I’ve had great conversations through windows. I’ve yelled in anger, out of them. I’ve climbed in through windows and snuck out of them. I have dumped dish water out a window and emptied a chamber pot as well. I have let in the breeze and the rain. I have stuck my head and torso out a window in a raging storm. The window is a metaphor for so many things that it just seemed the perfect vehicle for the blog. I’ve written about so many subjects that any other name would have been inadequate. When you read this blog you’re opening a window. You never know what you’ll let inside.


I Dare You

I started reading George Carlin’s book, “Last Words” this week. He starts out talking about his childhood, growing up in New York city. It reminded me of my own childhood and the crazy things me and the neighborhood kids did together. Growing up in New York, Carlin had ready made entertainment all around him with no lack of great things to see and do. Growing up in a small mid-western town like I did, we had to come up with our own entertainment. And we had no lack of imagination to do it with. I was born in 1956, so my formative years were the Sixties and early Seventies. I grew up with Rock N Roll and the Vietnam war, the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Woodstock and the first man on the moon. It was an exciting time to be alive. Of course none of us kids understood the cultural significance of the things happening in our world. We were too young. We just wanted to have fun.

The entire town was our Kingdom. But the park, only a block away from my house, was the center of a lot of our activity. One day I hopped on my bike and rode to the park shelter to see if anyone was around. A couple of friends were there and we were soon in the thick of planning our exploits. One of my buddies had an old lipstick tube he had found and the other had a pocket full of firecrackers. I’m not sure which one of us came up with the idea, but we decided to make a bomb. Why, you ask? Well, to blow shit up, that’s why. There was no harm or malice aforethought in what we did. We just wanted to make an explosion. And we, well, you’ll see.

Back in my day, (an expression used when talking to my grandkids) back in my day, lipstick tubes were made of metal. One of my friends pulled out his pocket knife and cleaned the old lipstick out of the tube. Every kid had a pocket knife back then. It wasn’t a weapon, it was a tool. He soon had a nice little glob of sticky, oily red lipstick on the picnic table. And a knife blade and fingers full as well. I set to work with my own knife on the firecrackers. First you pull the fuse out and then slice the firecracker length wise until you reach the center which is filled with gunpowder. I opened up about 15 firecrackers. The lipstick tube now being about half full of gunpowder was then packed with the paper from the cut open firecrackers. The science behind why firecrackers explode is this: The gunpowder is wrapped tightly with several layers of paper. The fuse is lit and when the sparks reach the gunpowder, the gunpowder ignites. The force of the ignition is tightly bound with the layers of paper, and it has to go somewhere. Boom. A few twists with the pointy end of your blade made a nice hole for the fuse, and we were ready.

The picnic tables at the park were made of heavy planks of wood, each two inches thick. We jammed the lipstick tube between two of them and lit the fuse. We ran like hell. That was one of the most exciting days of my entire young life. The explosion was HUGE. The whistle on a freight train was not as loud. The siren on the cop station roof was not as loud. The explosion made my head ring and my hearing was probably permanently damaged that day. Wood splinters from the thick and heavy two inch planks of the picnic table flew in all directions. Some were embedded in the wood posts that held up the shelter roof. The heavy screws that held the planks in place were twisted out of shape. We couldn’t even find any metal from the lipstick tube although we didn’t stick around long because we knew someone would call the cops. On our bikes we flew in three different directions, laughing and cheering all the way down the street.

Needless to say, I had a great childhood. Yes, there was some vandalism involved. And some stealing. There was some fighting and cursing and smoking and there was some alcohol. There was fishing in the river. There were a lot of dares. Like the time we rode our bikes screaming through Carleton College’s underground tunnels scaring the hell out of College students because somebody dared us to do it. You didn’t pass up a dare. I regret none of it. Think of the stories we gave other people to tell. “Remember when those kids…” Your welcome.