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July 20, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Sando Says


I don’t see my uncle very often—part of the reason is that he lives in Whanganui, another part of it is that he is a bit mad. Literally, it’s a family matter, so I will give you my thanks to not pry. Over the course of my life he has given me presents, ‘celebratory gifts’ if you will, to celebrate certain occasions of celebration. Birthdays and Christmases are two such events. Wow, this would have been much easier if I’d have simply said “My uncle gives me birthday and Christmas presents,” wouldn’t it?

My uncle gives me birthday and Christmas presents. This piece is kind of about that. My earliest memory of him was from a winter holiday (so this story is about a birthday, as Christmas is a summertime occupation), at my grandparents’ farm in Wanganui; he was home from studying at Massey for the holidays, and I guess rather bored. He took me out on his farm bike, it was red so therefore it went fast. We tried to rock up to the top of the really steep paddock, but didn’t quite make it, and the bike, he and I rolled the fuck down that slope in a big cluster of ‘not understanding physicsyness’. He told me not to tell my mum, but of course I thought that it was totally awesome, and so stupidly bragged about it to her. She was not pleased that her preschooler had almost been flattened by a dirtbike tyre. I was not pleased that I was not allowed to ride on the bike anymore, my uncle was not pleased that he had burnt himself on the exhaust protecting his sister’s womb goblin and still got bitched out about it. My dad didn’t give a fuck.

I just realised that this sort of story coming from me means that you the reader at home is probably scared that this is going to be a bittersweet story of being molested by a mentallyill relative. Well, it isn’t, it’s a happy story. I didn’t even get molested by any adult until I was well past the age of consent. Screw you Kenakena Primary School.

Anyways, it was my birthday in like a day and I was more excited than comprehension, even the thought about the next day released a wave of crushing anxiety about what would happen, followed by an up swell of anticipation, and followed by a giddy rush of endorphins about how the very next day was my special day. That night my uncle showed me his weird olden day telephone, it was shaped like a box and had a speaking turret. I wasn’t allowed to touch it personally, because, well, I don’t know, I think I may have been one of those disgusting little kids who are always kind of sticky; maybe it was because he was fucking with me; maybe it’s because it was an antique, look I don’t know, I was almost four and a total dumbass to boot. The point is, I realised that it had a circle like a clock, and I thought if I could just turn that bastard around I could have my birthday now. Later that night after watching an absorbing commercial about a dog trying to find his way back home, I snuck into my uncle’s room, and using my newfound ability to sneak, I used his chair to climb upon the dresser, to be able to turn the handle on the birthday making telephone from the past. I slipped off and cracked my knee on the ancient wooden floor, thinking that my knee was probably broken for ever I ran (see, dumbass) and hid in the bathroom, and played around with my granddad’s electric razor and foul smelling toothpaste. Toothpaste isn’t very useful as shaving cream, and a now broken electric razor won’t shave your tongue for you. Another of my uncles knocked on the door and told me that he’d turn me into turnip stew if I didn’t get out of the bathroom. So, I did and went back to the sleep out where I was sleeping. There were posters promoting the 1981 Springbok tour in the room, though I didn’t know the politics behind it and just thought that the old All Black uniforms looked warm. I fell asleep.

The next day was what we in the industry call “my birthday” and I have three salient memories of that day. The first is that we had hot stewed rhubarb on weetbix and cornflakes for breakfast. I remember looking at the sweet-yet-sour red mess and wondering if that was what insides looked like. This caused me to pretend to be a dinosaur eating dinosaur guts, so my breakfast was both delicious and fun. The second is that as it was a Sunday we were having a roast for lunch, and for desert we had a delicious Garfield ice cream cake for my birthday cake. I’d blown out the candles and it was all going well until my granddad jumped up and ran outside. The chimney had caught on fire, and the roof was heading that way too. My uncle jumped up onto it and started beating out the flame with an old potato sack. He was soon joined by nearly every male relative up on the roof, who dumped wet sacks on the glowing chimney. When we came inside my cake had melted, and someone (mother? Nana? Aunty Joey?!) had put it aside to throw out. I took a spoon to it, and celebrated my birthday mirthlessly, alone, by consuming Garfield’s caramel-flavoured face. Then my mum came in, and saw that I had wrecked my cake, and everybody’s desert. I’m not sure what my punishment was, but I’m sure both Sue Bradford and I felt that it was unreasonable. After my punishment, and later on into the twilight of what remained of my birth’s day, my uncle took me aside and said “tell me that you like, Mr. T.” I said, okay… not having any idea who this letter T man was. He smiled and went into his room, coming out with a pile of stickers as deep as my hand. All of the A-Team’s main man. Handing me those stickers he said solemnly, if he had been here Nic, we’d all have had Garfield cake. I carry those sage words everywhere I go dudes, and now you can have them too. Cheers.

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About the Author ()

Nic Sando is a god amongst men, fifteen fathoms high he be, with strange and wyrd powers at his disposal. Only a fool won't harken his ears to the east when he hears The Sando man stumping his way.

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