Youth Memorabilia

You know those “time-capsules” you buried in your backyard as a kid? The ones you unearthed the following week, upon realizing it was your favourite GI Joe’s action figure you put in that box (and cynical, anti-imperialist, you-of-twenty-years-from-then would probably discard it with a sneer, anyway)…

Well, I got my time-capsule back two weeks ago. Seventy kilos of it, to be exact. It wasn’t buried in my parents garden (I’m pretty sure my mum wouldn’t had let me dig a hole that size), but sitting in a storage facility for the past 15 years, whence I was kindly asked to come pick it up for good, last month.

Half is stuff that I should have binned, long before I even embarked on my current regime of bi-yearly intercontinental moves. The other half, I probably cared for, but decided wouldn’t fit in with the furniture of a decrepit London warehouse. At any rate, I have already started working my way through, slimming it down to a box and half, which, according to current life principles, will also have to go before next Spring (OK, maybe I’ll keep some of the books).

But before I complete my last round of recycling/discarding, I felt I could document some of those memorabilia, if not for their historical value, at least for the sake of providing a few laughs at the expense of the hopelessly dorky 11-year old I was. Yes, I know this might come as a bit of a shock to you, dear reader, but I wasn’t always this shiny beacon of elegance and hipster good-taste that I have matured into over the years. To tell the truth, only one thing comes to mind when contemplating some of the evidence: how the hell didn’t I get beaten up more often as a kid?

Sure, I could just play it cute and show you all those wacky serious adult books I read back then and marvel with mock-disapproval at little young prodigy Dave’s precocious readings (yes, I read all those Nietzsche’s books when I was 12, no I didn’t understand half of it, but it sure pissed the hell out of my grandmother and that was good enough for me)…

But when I say dorky, trust me I mean it. And it is with no secret pride whatsoever that I present you with:

Inside Macintosh My programming books collection!
This wasn’t all of it (far from it), but I guess those had cost me way too much of my hard-earned monthly allowance, to be simply discarded or sold back a couple years later when I learnt about that crazy thing that lets you search and browse for technical documentation from your computer (some crazy technology you wouldn’t have heard of). And I do remember how motherfuckin’ expensive those Apple books were back then (to think of all the boxes of Lego bricks I could have got instead). Incidentally: anybody up for some mint-condition books documenting a computer system made obsolete 5 years ago? Contact me if you do (you pay shipping).

Be Inc. T-shirt Do not go thinking I was the quiet reserved nerdy kind who went clickety-click on his Mac+ (512kb ram and a munificent 20Mb external hard-drive, if memory serves) without throwing in at least one fashion statement or two:

All I can say about this shirt is that it is probably a world hipper to wear now than it was back then. And that’s saying a lot.

Glasses I take a look at these glasses and I want to tell the 8-year-old who will go into wearing them through most of junior high: yes, even if that sounds an unlikely option at this point in your life, you will actually get laid one day. There will also be a day where you will start wearing contacts and only occasionally wear your slim designer glasses to impress girls into thinking you can help them with their homework and go discuss existentialism around a cup of coffee afterward. There will even be a day when you’ll dye your hair blue and hop on a plane to some random destination at 6 in the morning (not your smartest move, I may add)…

But instead, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief at the kid who would wear such glasses without even the slightest hint of parental coercion as an excuse…

I know I said I would spare you my teenage readings and all the faux-shameful intellectual poseur crap I read back then, but this is actually a bit different:

Lupin I’ve had countless literary infatuations over the years, in many styles and languages, but none compares to how much I idolized Arsène Lupin around age 8 to 12.
Forget Famous Five, forget The Three Investigators, even Sherlock Holmes (his arch-nemesis) couldn’t possibly be a match for him: Arsène Lupin was the shit. Beyond the character, I think I really fell in love with the very particular brand of turn-of-the-century French it was written in: just the right balance between precious, vivacious and quaint, with a good dose of cheekiness… I owe it a large part of my love for the French language (sparked and maintained by many others).

As for the shameful part: I am not proud to admit that last weekend, after a long session of box-opening and dusty book-sorting, I finally retreated to my bed with a volume… and read it cover-to-cover until late the morning after. I guess I’ll have to stop mocking so overtly the ones of my friends who hold for a pinacle of contemporary literature a series of children’s book about a wizard casting spells in some imaginary boarding-school cum castle… Or maybe not.

And because I didn’t only stash nerd collector items and vanity readings for all those years, here is a one of the few items I was really looking forward to recover from those boxes:

Sticky Fingers During the Summer of 1995 in Berkeley, I bought dozens of 60’s and 70’s LP: some for their music, some for their cover. I bought this original Sticky Fingers LP at Rasputin’s, because it was just way cool and you can’t go wrong with a vinyl sleeve that has a real zipper on it. Turned out it’s an original Andy Warhol design, stamped by the man himself. No need to ask, I am not offloading that one: I think I’ll hold on to it for a little more and face any additional materialistic burden my chakras may incur as a result.

I think that will be it for this naked display of my long forlorn youth and defusing of potential blackmail material (better now that when I’ll be fronting fashion glossies on a daily basis). Thankfully omitted from the above are: numerous prized items from my shell collection (the ones I went fishing as a kid in the Indian Ocean, Grand Bleu style… We’re talking at least 5 feet-deep free-diving here, people), two boxes of half-heartedly jotted down notes on physics, biology, western philosophy, latin and greek, intermingled with much doodling and early-in-the-making world domination plot schematics, books, dozen of them, including an entire box of airport readings (Anne Rice and Tom Clancy?? what the hell was I thinking)…

Feel free to come rummage through the rest: you should have a couple hours before the garbage men show up and take it away.


  1. Darn you!!! I only have the first book of that collection of Arsene Lupin (of course I have various versions of many of the novels separately, but for the sake of completeness, you know…) and it i*is* a pain in the fundament(als of literature) to dig them out of second-hand bookstores.
    One day I’ll have them all, one day… I’ll make it a hobby (together with joining in the quest for capturing a Gideon, maybe) to find them, treasure them, cherish them…
    One of finest piece of french writing, period.

    Oh, and nice piece of time bubble there, I felt at home reading through it.

  2. The thing about being 11 is that almost everyone is hopelessly dorky and socially clumsy. The people who had their lives reach a peak at 11 generally don’t turn out all that well – they end up running away with carny-folk on their prom night or some other horrible fate (that’s an actual example btw). The rest of us can’t look back without shuddering in reflective embarrassment, but at least we don’t regard those years as “the best in our lives” – a far worse punishment than carrying around astrophysics books in your free time for five years as a kid (just a random example – *I* was never that dorky of course. No. Never). Of course, occasionally you do find a few cool things from back then that make you smile… Like your LP’s, or a career survey from 7th grade where “Eco-Terrorist” is written in as your ideal future occupation…

  3. Alot of the BE stuff are now collectors items. Chuck them up on Ebay and pay for your next trip over to the Big Mikan. We have a BE box (with all the trimmings) that we sold a while back for a heap of cash. Do some research and see what sort off prices you can get before you toss it all.

  4. Hern: yep, those books aren’t leaving me anytime soon 🙂 I still remember getting them one by one for birthdays and other occasions…

    Phoinix: hey! Never said I regretted… And I agree: better in that order than the other way round.

    Tracey dear: trust me, the shirt ain’t worth much… And the Be Box that went with is long, long gone. Too bad too, as it was way more than a collector item (a clunky one-off prototype running on a handmade AT&T CPU codenamed ‘Hobbit’)…

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