My dad was born on May 26, 1935 in Windsor, Vermont. One can only imagine the pride of the Young parents as they beheld the sight of their infant son. As far as I’m concerned, however, he sort of hazily shimmered into existence, a young father himself, in either the late spring or early summer of 1965, madly whacking at his left ankle in the front seat of the family car.
This is my first conscious memory of him, as well as my first conscious memory on this Earth.
I remember a fuzzy, hazy tableau: although the day was sunny, my memory of the scene is as though I saw the events transpire through a fogged window. I remember looking over the top of the front seat. The driver’s side door was open, letting in a spray of light that captivated my little brain. As I looked down at the sunbeam, Dad started slapping at his lower leg, for no reason I could see.
I learned later that a bee was trying to sting the poor guy.
My family moved around a lot, my dad chasing promotions in his career, taking us from Ohio to Texas to rural Vermont in ten years. I sort of developed a life-long inability to remember people’s names and my childhood ennui from realizing I was just going to move away so why bother? So everywhere we moved, entertainment was still my friend. They had movies and TV and comic books in all those places, so Captains Kirk and Caveman and America were my pals I could count on, wherever I was.
One day I was sick and my dad came home from work with a pile of comic books for me to read and with the Mysterio Spider-Man and X-Men #50 and some Archies, my dad brought home Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD #6 and that was it for me. I loved James Bond and I loved The Wild, Wild West, and I loved The Man from UNCLE, so having a bunch of superspies in the comics was amazing to me. I loved them. I read them all.
Although I must have seen cold, inclement weather before, the first time I remember actually having fun in the cold was during an ice storm in Texas. I know my parents must have been as pleased as the kids, as they both were Damn Yankees (as our neighbors the Bakers and the Childresses were fond of reminding them), and were both quite prepared for the cold.
Having moved from Cleveland, my parents brought with them their winter toys. I remember a very cold ice storm in which I briefly thought the world was going to end. Ma reassured me that this was not the case, and went so far as to dig out her skates and skate wantonly in the street.
Dad pulled out the double-runner sled, and slid down the hill of Briarfield Drive, with my sister up front and me in the middle. I had walked down that hill before, I had biked down it, I think I may have even rolled down it a couple of times, but I had never sledded down it.
It was fun! I believe that sledding, even today, is my preferred mode of travel. But as we careened wildly down the hill, Dad learned a fateful lesson:
A sled doesn’t steer the same on ice as it does on snow, and a sled’s runners will retain the shape of a curb if you hit it too fast.
And that’s what I ended up loving about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. the most. They took an idea from the comics and buffed it up for the movies. They killed the main guy and the audience wouldn’t let them, so they figured out a way to get him on TV and didn’t worry too much that the sled’s not made for ice and they kept the runners away from the curbs.
This show was part of my routine for seven years; fully half of my son’s life. I feel like a family member is gone and nothing’s left but warm memories, like how I feel about my dad. And I was just in the audience. Can you imagine what it was like to work on it? Sure, you can’t judge how good a thing was by how long it lasts, and entertainment is ephemeral by nature, but, still.
Thanks for everything.