On Being Home (Part 2 of 3): Treasures

(Every eight months or so, pending good behavior, my mom and dad earn a visit from their youngest son. This time, I'm taking notes.)

By Jarrett Bellini

Coming home is like being on a treasure hunt, only these so-called treasures are nothing more than my old junk. Nevertheless, it’s loads of fun to see what I’ve left behind over the years. Though I haven’t actually lived in Arizona since I took off for college in 1997, my stuff somehow continues to accumulate in various nooks and crannies of our home – especially the closet of my old bedroom.

However, before venturing into that, I just wanted to touch on the great discovery I made in the garage yesterday. The garage is a space both my brother and I have managed to abuse with reckless abandon. Usually, it’s under the justification of, “Hold onto this box of books for now until I move into my new place. Just put it in the garage.”

Today, there are enough volumes sitting in there to rival even the finest library – so long as we agree that the finest library is really the suckiest library. But, forget about those books. Instead, let’s concentrate on the large plastic bin filled with old beer bottles.

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I started a beer bottle collection along the shelves of my room. Whereas most parents might be somewhat concerned with their underage son’s affinity for such a collection, mine seemed to be more appreciative of the fact that I had a hobby. So, instead of questioning my motives, they encouraged my interest by providing me with new, exotic bottles from around the world.

“Here, Jarrett, have you heard of this one?”

“Yeah, it’s horrible! There’s too much sediment, and the body is way to malty… from what I’ve, um, read.”

The thing was, the bottles I received as gifts from my parents were full. Mine were empty. Trust me, I wasn’t picking them up off the streets.

Of course, those bottles weren’t always laying in repose in the garage. Their first stop, after leaving the shelves, was the closet. As more junk accumulated they were moved away to make room for all that now lies within. So, with that, allow me to share a few of the more intriguing things currently sitting behind those two doors of mystery.

TI-81 Calculator
This was required for high school math and remains one of the most confusing appliances I have ever owned. So, I have to say that I was rather excited to rediscover this horrible device that provided me with so much anguish. I was also pleased to discover that a cheat sheet I had made so long ago was still taped to the inside of the cover. Numbers never really made sense to me, and I can say, now, that I only got to where I am today because I cheated my way through math classes. Granted, where I am today sucks. Poetic justice, I suppose.

The Hammock
A sure sign of a misspent youth is when your boyhood heroes are George Carlin and Jimmy Buffett (an even surer sign is if those two names happen to be John Hinckley and “Squeaky” Fromme). Though the great comedian was my first inspiration, it was my appreciation for the original Parrothead that I managed to take to the Nth degree. It culminated the day I had my dad bolt metal hooks through two walls of my bedroom to where I then attached both ends of a red hammock - it was my goal to create Margaritaville. After school, I would come home, blend up some ice and margarita mix, spray some coconut scent in the air, put on some Jimmy, and neglect my homework for as long as possible. It was truly paradise. Paradise got even better when I commissioned my mom to paint an ocean mural on the wall. It’s sick, I know.

Chaparral High School Freshman Baseball T-Shirt
In 1994 we went 17-0. The t-shirt, proudly declaring us “Champions,” fails to acknowledge the game we were trailing by about 10 runs until it started to rain. The contest was canceled and never spoken of again. I always felt like that shirt was fraudulent, and refused to feel any real pride while wearing it. Though winning 17 games was quite an accomplishment, what was even more astounding was the day I got to start. Sadly, I only earned this right after two key players beat the living crap out of each other off campus one afternoon, suspending them each for one game. Given the rare opportunity to play, I drilled a homerun on my first at bat. The next game I was back on the bench performing 80’s rock karaoke with my friend Adam.

The Fart Book

This was a birthday gift given to me by my aunt, uncle and cousins, describing (with illustrations) the world’s various types of flatulence. The dedication on the inside cover reads:

“Jarrett - When I saw this book, I just knew we had to get it for you! What a reputation!! Happy reading + happy farting! And beware of people with smiles on their faces for no reason – they just laid an SBD!!! Love, us!”

So, let’s recap… I was allowed to have a beer bottle collection as a kid, spent most of my time in a hammock drinking virgin margaritas, and received a book on farting as a birthday gift. Really, is it any wonder that I spent the bulk of my college days as an overweight, beer-chugging, frat guy? Gee, thanks everybody!

All this discovery just makes me very uneasy - I really need to take the edge off. So, if you're looking for me I’ll be in the garage. I think there are still a few unopened beer bottles out there.

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