by Rodrigo Blanco
I won’t lie to you, I love attention. Never maldirected attention caused by lies, deceit, or any other melodramatic means. I like more the ‘stand out’ type of attention. For example, say you find yourself in a classroom and the teacher asks a question you right away know the answer to, I’m the type of person who will raise their hand so high so fast, that on a couple occasions I have fallen out of my seat, all so that people know that I know the answer. Sometimes I might say something brilliant, other times I may make an ass out of myself but that’s okay because I know that in a crowd I will stand out, in a given place people will notice me.
Today I strive more towards the congratulatory type of attention; I no longer want to stand out for being loud or obnoxious but rather for being great at whatever it is that I do. It took me a while to realize this was the type of attention that I needed but eventually I learned. Before doing so however I put myself in some pretty interesting scenarios, one of the most notable occasions in which I found comfort in attention occurred when I was five years old. Now, I want you to clear your mind and to place yourself in the mindset of an only child at the age of five as mentioned before, a child living in what today is known as a ‘broken home’, the mother stays home to care for the kid as he is still too young to enroll into pre-school. The father works all day to care for the family however at the end of the day he comes home to hostility because the marriage no longer works, hostility between the parents but a middle ground consisting of a child they both love.
“Daddy you’re home!”, I scream in excitement as my father walks in through the door carrying a bag that, me at the time assuming the universe revolves around me, obviously had a hidden gift for his favorite little boy.
“Yes sir, I am. How was your day today buddy?”
“Huh?” I had stopped paying attention after he started to take out the mystery items of the bag; turns out he had bought cereal, fruit, and milk. “Bummer, it’s only groceries” I thought to myself in bitter disappointment. I remembered Power Rangers would be starting soon so considering I literally had the attention span of a five year old, I left to watch my idols save the world from corny minions.
Around halfway into the show my stomach had started growling which usually indicated I had to be fed, so deciding to be a big boy and care for myself, I screamed, “MOM I’M HUNGRYYY!” No reply. “ MOM, CAN WE PLEASE HAVE SOME QUESADILLAS!” Once again, nothing; nada, complete and utter silence.
Baffled by my conundrum I decided to go downstairs and get myself some cereal. I got off the couch and started towards the steps, the baby gate impeded me for only a moment; they couldn’t trap me, I was a future Power Ranger, and if I had learned anything from my imaginary training, it was to open the dang gate myself. Finally, one by one and holding on to the handrail in order not to roll down the stair… again, I walked towards the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye I saw them, my dad making aggressive hand gestures while yelling and my mom, sitting on the table with her hand on her left temple probably fighting of a headache or something.
Whenever I interrupted their talking they always told me it was grown up stuff, so I figured I’d leave them alone and get the cereal myself. I didn’t want to interrupt all the talking that was going on.
I passed by without being noticed and arrived in the kitchen, struggled to move a chair below the cupboard next to the stove, climbed the chair into the counter and sat there so I could reach the Coco Puffs.
I noticed there was a small hole in the upper middle part of the stove, a hole I had never seen before. Boy was I intrigued now. I leaned in very close to see what was inside it but saw nothing.
“Mom! What’s in the whole on top of the stove?” I screamed at her.
“Don’t touch it honey, back back upstairs!” Don’t touch it?!, now I had to touch it.
I’m touching it! I heard footsteps and my mom’s face peep into the kitchen, “I said don’t touch it, now go back upstairs like I told you or you’ll be in trouble.”
Gosh could she be a grump. I figured I’d touch it anyways, I would either find nothing or something and then I could show my parents with a tinge of gloat in the achievement.
I put my foot in one of the starting knobs, pushed up, heard a small buzz and put my finger down the hole. Surprisingly there was nothing there so I took my finger out in annoyance and thought “No quesadillas and no mystery item in the hole; today is not my day.”
By now the gas had built up and when I let the finger out it was released, suddenly I saw a small flame jump out of the hole and onto my finger. Immediately I screamed in pain and started crying.
“Gogo, what happened to you!” my mother screamed picking me up from the counter and into, well, another counter.
“Here, put some mustard on his finger to ease the pain, I’ll get the pomade,” my dad said.
“No! I hate mustard!” I replied between sobs.
“Look it’s all red and blistered, it’s going to leave a scar, should we take him to a doctor?”
“No it’s not too bad, it’ll fade away with time, and he’s almost stopped crying. He will be fine.”
They hugged me for the longest time. I had calmed down but then my mom started crying out of worry, so my dad comforted the both of us,and we hugged and ate quesadillas after I admitted to them the reason why I was there in the first place.
That night I had received their attention and I felt happy. For the first time in a while I had enjoyed a moment with them as a family because at this point they could not even be in the same room without fighting. I had the attention of both my parents together, we acted like a family, and I was happy.
Fast forward 12 years and the only scar left is a small brown dot on my finger. I pray that it never goes away because it represents one of two memories of my birth parents when they were still together. That and their incessant fighting. I perfectly remember peace I had felt from their attention.I like this memory, it is the only happy memory of when I lived with both my parents. Today, the scar reminds me of peace in an environment full of emotional havoc; today,they are no longer together, instead they went their own separate ways, and I found peace in that too. Ever since I like to have people’s attention because in the darkest moments of my childhood, attention is what lifted me back up.