Transgenerational Memory Versus the ‘Christmas Complete’

At some point along these stretched-out years, a new term clamored onto the deck of our shared cultural lexicon, waited for a lull, put its wheels to the coping and dropped in. ‘The Christmas Complete,’ in the telling of pod-cast hosters and seven-ply salesmen, is springtime purity in product form: That proverbial clean slate, unmarred by bails and makes, all its pop intact — it gets no fresher… all opportunity, and promise. Galvanized identity and anticipation, maybe still in a cardboard CCS or Active box, maybe with a bow on top.

It is a lie. Visions of deftly felt kickflips wither as that sparkling grip holds too eagerly to flat-bottomed soles; the factory-clean grip lines soon sheered jagged after shooting out and careening against curbs. Even the visceral beauty cultivated in perfectly parallel slide marks bordering both trucks can’t hold when inevitably some ledge sits just a little bit too high, or low, clawing the nose and tail with wincing diagonals; worse still, flecked with red or yellow paint. The galactic potential strung through virgin metal, urethane and maple sputters away.

Now this is your board, and everything glorious and depressing that entails. The younger of us can, if they’re cursed to hoard, point to any progression they’re allowed — the hoary and asymmetrical scraping and flaking of a tail tethered to curb drop-ins in time can stand upright and walk with clean(er) horizontal smears, and excessive razortailing can be expected to ease. But with age comes a grim consistency — spread across garage concrete, any decade-deep practitioner will confront grim familiarity on the underbellies of successive deck generations, and the uniform crooked-grind bites into a battered brotherhood of front trucks.

Whether hammered together for an uncomfortable bench or stacked for a cobweb factory in some lesser-traveled basement cul-de-sac, these used-up components, in a sense, still function. The setup leaned against a nearby bedroom wall, the active duty front-liner, is spry, young — the deck just two weeks old. It is middle aged, the wheels and bearings set up six months ago for a road trip and grudgingly protected within a car’s trunk while rain poured down for 36 hours straight. It is elderly, the trucks four years old with enough millimeters of forged ore between the axle and any coping not to sweat replacing, yet. It is ageless, the Phillips-endorsed indentations of its eight one-inch bolts somehow flecked with rust.

But its memory runs back further. When this mounting hardware shook loose from its plastic film all those years ago, they slotted together a month-old deck and two-year-old trucks. The first bearings encircling those trucks were rattling, corroded things, buzzing their last after a short winter, wet spring and hot summer, spinning wheels already a year coned and yellowed. The first board that those wheels moved was short for its duty, broken in only five sessions, and the squeaking trucks on their last legs, bent from frustrated focusing and occasionally fruitful stair-hucking, in those younger days. This universe of components, tagging one another in and out, can trace each push all the way back to the beginning — and further still into another time, if it began cobbled together from another’s castoffs.

The ‘Christmas Complete’ swings a sterilized, eugenics-scented sledgehammer through this grizzled lineage. It is the suit, shirt and tie sold as a rigorously color-coordinated ensemble; it is the prefab condominium block, the garish floral sofa encased in crinkly plastic. Any institutional memory embedded in the cracked deck, pavement-bitten wheels and muddied grip is cleaved away and ended — a new one starts from scratch, another would-be dynasty, unless it’s replaced in another twelve months. It is an act of mercy by enthusiastic Ol’ Yeller shooters, an exercise in the grim fulfillment of web-cart filling and promo code copying-and-pasting, an effort of forced forgetting worthy of those who would pour gravel and dirt into a too-cracked bowl to lay slabs for wood-composite boxes and bolted-down flatcars. It always can be the last one.

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2 Responses to “Transgenerational Memory Versus the ‘Christmas Complete’”

  1. Chew Says:

    Best post in a while. Thank you for your service.

  2. art hellman Says:

    G’mork: If you come any closer, I will rip you to shreds.

    Atreyu: Who are you?

    G’mork: I am G’mork. And you, whoever you are, can have the honor of being my last victim.

    Atreyu: I will not die easily. I am a warrior!

    G’mork: Ha! Brave warrior, then fight the Nothing.

    Atreyu: But I can’t! I can’t get beyond the boundaries of Fantasia!

    [G’mork laughs and Atreyu gets a little angry]

    Atreyu: What’s so funny about that?

    G’mork: Fantasia has no boundaries.

    [laughs]

    Atreyu: That’s not true! You’re lying.

    G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.

    Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?

    G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.

    Atreyu: What is the Nothing?

    G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.

    Atreyu: But why?

    G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!

    Atreyu: Who are you, really?

    G’mork: I am the servant of the power behind the Nothing. I was sent to kill the only one who could have stopped the Nothing. I lost him in the Swamps of Sadness. His name… was Atreyu.

    Atreyu: [the ground shakes again and Atreyu is knocked down. He grabs a knife shaped piece of broken stone and stands up, ready to fight] If we’re about to die anyway, I’d rather die fighting! Come for me, G’mork! *I* am Atreyu!

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