My Earliest Memory, or the Time Abe Lincoln Lost His Marbles

My earliest memory is of wee me, about 6 months old, tumbling over the collapsible rail of my crib and landing on my head. This would happen again many times, enough to warrant a pile of stuffed animals being strategically placed at my bedside to cushion my fall. I learned that if I held onto the railing and swayed (I’m sure I was mimicking the animated monkeys I had seen swinging from branch to branch on early morning cartoons), the side would drop and out I’d spill. But the first time I wasn’t prepared, so I knocked myself silly and shrieked as if I’d fallen onto a bed of nails rather than the floor. My mom rushed in wearing the satin blue nightgown she always wore in those days, scooped me up and carried me into the living room, still a blubbering mess. What followed is most likely a series of events that over time my mind has molded into one, but for the sake of a good story we’ll say this is how it happened.

The TV was on. I want to say we were watching a Saturday Night Live skit but for the life of me I haven’t been able to find a clip online. A young couple, the jock boyfriend and the pretty blonde with her hair pulled into a ponytail, stood looking up at the Lincoln Memorial. They turned to leave when the statue lifted one hand then the other before rising from his seat, glowering down at them like an angry god. Naturally, they screamed and ran away. But they weren’t quite fast enough. I don’t remember what happened to the guy, only that he died first. The girl must not have been very bright because she just stood there aghast. Abe reached down and made a fist and then he was holding her up to his face. She screamed one last time before her head disappeared in his enormous maw. He spit it out – close-up shot of her head rolling across the ground – and the audience went wild with laughter as he shuffled away to wreak havoc on the Washington Monument.

Now, this did nothing to soothe my cries. I’m fairly certain I puked.

Sometime before dawn, I heard a woman’s scream followed by a crash. I opened my eyes and stared at the window on the other side of the room. I didn’t move. If I had been capable, I would’ve pulled the blanket over my head and cried myself back to sleep. Instead I was forced to watch through the dingy glass as a pair of legs, stone white and as big around as tree trunks, strode past and out of sight. Something downstairs shattered. A chair or other wooden object was dragged or pushed across the floor, punctuated by audible wibbling. I knew then Lincoln had forced his way into the building.

Let’s be real, you’d have shit your pants.

It turns out that a drunk had broken into the apartment below us. Besides smashing a window and frightening the female half of the couple who lived there by exposing himself (it’s my understanding that this was the same drunk who spent nights singing in the street, sometimes clothed but most often not, sometimes with a guitar and other times with a harmonica), no real harm was done. So what the hell had I seen moving past my window at the height of the ruckus?

Maybe my mom had spiked my formula to lull me to sleep. Maybe it was the first of many hypnagogic hallucinations to come. But I saw something, something that looked an awful lot like a large marble statue’s large, stiff marble legs.

You tell me.

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