Speed Racer

Written by Rafaela Olshin

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Speed Racer

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of flushing a broken toy and clogging the toilet.   The memory is so clear not for the act itself, but for its consequences.  This is how it happened.

The light was out in the bedroom I shared with my sister, but a bright light was on in the foyer just outside our room so I could see clearly.   It must've been fairly late because my older sister, Iris,  was already asleep.   I was sitting on the floor, in between our beds rolling Speed Racer back and forth.   Speed Racer was a red plastic racecar roughly six inches long with a built-in driver.  Maybe I was hurling him back and forth because he broke into three or four pieces.

I picked up his parts, carried him to the bathroom and flushed him down the toilet.   I had the feeling that I should throw him in the garbage, rather than flush him, but the nearest garbage can in our apartment was in the kitchen and my parents' bedroom lay between me and the kitchen.  I would get yelled at for being out of bed if they heard me sneak by. The bathroom, on the other hand, was just a few paces away.

I stood over the toilet to watch Speed Racer disappear down the drain.  Something went wrong. The water wasn't going down the way it was supposed to; it was filling up!  Soon the water over-flowed the toilet and was spilling out onto the bathroom floor.   I ran back into my room and got in the bed under the covers.

Now, I did have an idea that flushing toys wasn't the right way to get rid of them, but who could know that a plastic car would irreparably damage the plumbing and make the whole house smell like shit forever -- make it so unpleasant to be there that my father would leave and never come back.

I was too scared to 'fess with Pop standing over us, grilling Iris and me about who put what into the toilet and clogged it.   I knew what would happen to the guilty party, so I just kept saying, "I didn't do it."  while my sister was saying exactly the same thing.  "I didnt do it, it wasn't me."

My Pop was a scary guy when we lived with him.  He was the stern one in the house, as someone has to be, I guess.  He worked nights, and slept during the days, and woe be the one who woke him up.  That's why most of the memories of living in Pops house dont include Pop.   The ones that do are vague, or vaguely unpleasant.  He left before we got to know his softer side.   Visiting, he could be a little nicer, even fun sometimes, but the visits were few and far between, maybe three or four times a year through my tenth year.   Then I didn't see him until I was 15.  Then I never saw him again.

To this day no one knows whether it was me or my sister who broke the toilet.  All of the plunging my mother did was in vain.  The building super was up to fix it and couldnt.   Some days later a plumber came with a snake to clear it, but when he left our toilet was still broken.  It was not long after that my mother, sister and I were packing to go live with Grandma. 

One day I'll tell my mother that it was me -- confess that it's my fault her marriage ended, that her husband abandoned her with two small children. 

What made me want to track down my father after all these years I can't imagine.   I thought of trying to find him when my son was born, to let him know he was a grandfather, but I never did.  In fact, he never was a grandfather; he was killed ten months before Mikee was born.   Learning that he's been dead for 15 years was a shock and a terrible disappointment.  I had hoped to see him again.  

It's surprising just how sad I am to learn of his death.  How could I be so bent out of shape over someone I hardly knew, hadn't spoken to in years?  Still, I am my father's daughter.  I got Pop's migraines and allergies, warped sense of humor, love of gambling, aversion to responsibility and monogamy; I even look like him.   Will some jealous spouse shoot me, too?  

And what about  Mikee?  My own baby angel.  So far he's got the migraines and allergies;  he's been through two girlfriends in the past six months -- the last one looked like a little hooker, with bleached-blonde hair and f_ _k-me-red lips.  But what a soft little heart he has.  Where he got it from is a mystery.

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