Preface: This is the inaugural installment of "Film and Television Rights." When approached by the happyrobot World Internet Franchise about becoming a member of the happyrobot family, I excitedly considered the power and potential of this Interthing, and what might happen to my action-filled yet impoverished life, then remembered the calendar year, and the million-plus other blogs. But then again, I thought of those inspirational technologically marvelous stories--culture altering events--such as the email sent to a handful of friends, then forwarded around the globe, snowballing into a Village Voice article, a book deal, a lecture tour, an offer of a government appointment. Or the anonymous open letters to an absent father--featured on NPR's "This American Life", and simultaneously published by Harper-Collins. Of course, those unspecified examples (only ones I know) jumped from the web to other mediums because they captivated a wide audience, were well-written, knowledgeable, sincere, timely. And I thought "What do I want to happen via the Interweb? How can I change things for the better?" And my answer was, of course, selfish:
I want my stuff back.
Meat: Luckily, I've never been robbed in any traditional breaking and entering sense, but a few items have disappeared, and I encourage you to email this page out into the sordid mass-mail universe and perhaps the whereabouts of my baubles will be revealed in the electrons bouncing from cubicle to cafe to prison cell.
Preface 2: I'm not looking for sympathy. I trust many of you dear readers may be missing digits and siblings or teeth and snacks, or you're being held indefinitely for interrogation, and I don't want to add any burden. Because in this sad world, Mr. Film and Television Rights is lucky (knock wood) to have retained all his fingers and toenails. Everybody loses stuff--or befriends a kleptomaniac.
The List: Please return these things at your earliest convenience, care of happyrobot USA, to the attention of Film and Television Rights.
1. At a yard-house-garage-stoop sale in 1985, in addition to people ringing the doorbell at 6am, someone came in my bedroom and carted away a carved wooden battleship my Dad made when he was a child (during WWII). Painted gray, with brittle Scotch tape as unconvincing port-hole glass. About the length of a computer keyboard. Keep the Star Wars action figures and the Bionic Man. Please ship back that boat.
2. Dad also carved a small wooden plane which escaped the yard-sale vultures. It was smooth and light brown. About 6 inches. No paint. This vanished in 1995, perhaps taken as a tour souvenir by traveling punk rock musicians, perhaps borrowed by a house mate (to play with?). My Dad had a lifelong fascination with planes, I know this because in the 14 minutes of Super 8 footage he filmed, he panned up from my Mother's legs or my baby sister playing in the surf to capture the distant vapor trail of jets overhead. (These two items also remind me that my Dad's father was a woodworker, and I imagine them building toys together, and that at one time, children in America made things with pocket knives and glue.) The little carved plane is not heavy, and would require minimal postage.
3. An engraved sterling silver Saint Christopher's medal--a gift from my Mom, although we were not Catholic, and I'm still not Catholic. This would remind me of her overwhelming generosity and that she had an odd fascination with all world religions. It was stolen from a gym locker circa 1983.
4. Three bicycles. 1987. 1990. 1992. Aw, keep 'em. No, send back the Schwinn Cruiser you swiped from in front of the bookstore.
5. Army dogtags. My Dad's. I pulled them from the Chanel perfume box in which my mother stored his things, and wore them until they were taken with a warm-up jacket from the school-gym floor while I was playing basketball. Summer of 1984. (Basketball can be dangerous when wearing dog tags.) Come on, really. The thief probably met a savage and untimely end with all the bad Karma points piled atop him. But if you are his nearest relative, and you always wondered who those tags belonged to--please send them on and help get your poor friend or relative out of Purgatory, (if perhaps you're Catholic, and if you are, send along a St. Christopher's medal). It's your patriotic duty. And ours is a time of dutiful patriotics.
6. An old Coke bottle. It has little-to-no material value, but it was my legacy. A family heirloom I was to pass to my children and they to their children. I'd managed to hold onto it my entire adult life, through several hastily-packed moves and drunken or angry visitors (or exitors). A well-meaning house guest accidentally recycled it just a few years ago. Afterwards, when my seemingly psychic mother would call, she'd ask "How's the coke bottle?" And I'd have to lie and say it was great. It was clear glass with no label except script in relief at the base, which read "Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Martinsville, VA" It was found in the woods by some relation maybe forty years ago, and perhaps has ambled its way back to the forest. When money's tight, I no longer can joke "We may have to sell the Coke bottle." Saying "If we had that bottle we could sell it" is just not the same.
7. A silver, cigarette lighter engraved with a map of occupied Germany. And, of course, was my Dad's Army lighter from occupied Germany. I want this back more than anything else, because my Uncle gave it to me one winter holiday--with a story he told me and my gathered relatives. He recounted how when I was a small child I'd played with the flintless, empty lighter, knowing I shouldn't. Before my Uncle moved from our house--after painting it, building a patio, and being the male role model for the better part of a year--I gave him the lighter, asking him to return it when I was grown. So in college, (imagining I'd grown) he fixed, cleaned, and polished the lighter and handed it to me at my Grandmother's house. I carried it everywhere, (unfortunately), lighting things ablaze (cigarettes), and someone pocketed it at a party (for party's sake) circa 1988. There were a slew of Deadheads around the coffee table. Maybe now, this particular thief has embraced the moral certainties of Tom's of Maine products, or after his parents wrangled him into re-hab, he became a market analyst, and wants to make right, and will return my Dad's lighter. Really, I'm not kidding, give it back you patchouli-reeking freak.
Coda: Of course, more things have disappeared--but that's all Mr. Film and Television Rights wants back. No charges will be pressed, I promise.