The Bullwinkle Decoder Ring… Just Doesn’t Work Without Them

November 25, 2020
Is it possible that I am making this up?

You know that l960s thing we used to say, not knowing we were apparently quoting, Zhaungzia from the 4th century BCE: “…Once upon a time, I dreamt I was a butterfly… now I do not know whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man…”?

And how that was the first taste of mumbo-jumbo that would lead us into the likes of, “…organized people are just too lazy to search for stuff...” etc.

But, here’s the thing: The relationship I had with boys when I was five years old, is sort of the same relationship I have now with men. And, I’m 65, now.

In Winnipeg, on Ethleburt Street, the ‘boy-next-door’ was Roy James Pugh. He was blonde, he had a crew cut and a devilish smile that I am sure got him into a whole mess of trouble all of his life. But, at five, he was mine. Or, so I thought.

He was really a spoiled brat, but I put up with him, because I just loved him. And here’s the other spooky-boo scenario: when I remember talking to him, we were talking about adult things. I don’t mean, let’s play doctor, nudge, nudge, and poking around our private parts. I mean big ideas like, how we felt about ourselves, what was going on around us, what we felt we could do about it.

Any parent, who thinks their child doesn’t know what is going on around them - the arguments about money, the hushed, weird sounds coming from the bedroom, the angry flare ups over the burnt potatoes - is ridiculously out of touch. We did, and that was l960.

There are two incidents that come to mind that remind me of Bullwinkle - and Rocky the Squirrel - if you remember. And the Decoder Ring.

One was being in his bedroom, with so many toys it was like being at the Hudson’s Bay department store. I shared a bedroom with my parents and my sister and no toys.

I was always a ‘girly girl’ in my long ponytail, skirts - we called skorts - and cute, frilly tops. I still like dressing like a girl.

Roy James Pugh, my future husband of course, was kicking his toys and having a fit because he didn’t think his mom loved him very much. I kept trying to talk him down from his ledge of despair, but I wasn’t very effective. Somehow I realized he was purposely not listening to me, because it was easier to get attention being indulgent and feeling sorry for himself. It kind of hurt my feelings: why didn’t he get that I was being kind and supportive to help make him happy? I left his toy room that day feeling unsatisfied; trying to figure out why my love and care did not come across to him.

The second incident was when we were playing Cowboys and Indians - like kids everywhere did - so please do not go off on the offensive politically correct tangent — when I jumped off his front door porch. Yes, I was wearing my special white shoes, the skort, frilly blouse and pony tail at the time, being a girly girl. I jumped wrong and sprained my ankle. It really, really hurt, but where was Roy James Pugh? He was galivanting in a circle around me as the cowboy, of course - jabbering on about how he had won.

Several days later, in my cast, Roy James Pugh was nowhere to be found. This time I was the one to be comforted, and I just don’t remember him being there.

It makes me laugh now, because I am still looking to share my Bullwinkle Decoder Ring, with someone who does.

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