The gift of gab

Somewhere in the depths of my parents’ home, there are cassettes (yes, the audio version…hello, it was the 70s) of a teeny tiny me spouting opinions and telling stories about my life. It started when my mother shoved a microphone in my face at eight months old, trying to record the odd chicken clucking sounds that passed for my early attempts at speech. By age two, she was pestering me to sing “Jesus Loves Me” while I repeatedly protested, “No,” “No,” and “Huh-uh, no.” Not long after, my older cousins commandeered the cassette player and launched into a game of “Nikki Say This, Nikki Say That” – also a wish that was never granted, since all I ever uttered in reply was, “No,” “I don’t want to,” and, in conjunction with grabs at the mic, “I want to do it myself.” (Hmmm – independent spirit + need to perform/tell stories = probably the reason my mother found three-year-old me at a puppet show in the mall after I wandered away from her (I hated pointless shopping even then). And more to her horror, I was NOT in the audience with the other children, who were patiently awaiting the start of the show. I was on the stage.)

By age 4, I had the wild imagination of a budding writer – not to mention only child – and the adenoid-laden voice of Edith Ann. Put them together and you have a storyteller in the making. I’m fortunate that my parents recognized this and nurtured it; both the cassette player and microphone became near-constant companions of mine on family trips, as I holed up in the back seat of our Buick LeSabre and narrated my way through treks to Disneyland, Yellowstone, and the Badlands. While some parents of my fellow Gen-X’ers avoided the “Are we there yets?” with travel bingo and Slug Bug, mine were assured peace (and, let’s face it, road trip entertainment) by helping me channel my inner Garrison Keillor and setting me free to gab.

I’ve been asking my mom for years to find these recorded bits of hilariousness and, so far, she’s come up empty-handed. So when Julie sent me this today, I was grinning ear-to-ear. The only thing that could give me more deja-vu chills is if this little girl was propagating from a puppet stage in the middle of a mall.

(P.S. Yes, that photo above is me, circa 1981 – and FYI, that’s a scan of an actual, real-deal Polaroid, not some silly Hipstamatic iPhone app. I have no comment on the fuzzy purple slippers. Let it go.)

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