Thursday, June 26, 2008

Losing my little Giraffe

"Hey mom, what year was it again when I lost my rubber giraffe over at Grand Union"?

"You know Ronnie, that must have been about 1960, because you were three years old at the time, and never let go of that thing". “You just carried it everywhere”.

Yes, my little rubber giraffe.
I remember chewing it on a daily basis. I’m sure it was chock full of lead paint, and probably gave me some kind of twitch or “involuntary movement” later in life. Or even worse, was the reason why I never made it to any of the “sp” or “gifted” classes that you call them today.

Yes, my little yellow and brown giraffe would be one of those toys you’d see on the 10 O’clock news at night. Just blame it for everything that goes wrong, even if you did forget to do your homework and study.

Now, this story is a real, real, old one. In fact it's so old,
I can hardly even remember it at all.
Hey, give me a break, I was only three when it happened!

For those of us who lived in Kensington for a while, the new “Foodtown” on McDonald and Albemarle Road was once the “Grand Union”. The Grand Union was the biggest Supermarket in Kensington and certainly dwarfed anything on Church Avenue at the time.
So when my mom had to really go shopping, she plopped me in my stroller and rolled me about three quarters of a mile to the Grand Union. And of course I would never leave home “without it”,
and that “it” being my little lead based giraffe.

Now the funny thing about the Grand Union is that it was almost identical to the Foodtown before they did the renovation.
The hotdogs were in the same exact place, along with the steak and chicken. They never really moved anything, that store was basically the same layout for 50 years or so. Which of course always gave me the opportunity to tell my son or wife the story about my
little giraffe.

“Hey Andres, you see where these steaks are?
When I was three years old I left my little rubber giraffe here”.
“And no one has ever seen it since”.

Yes, through my foggy memory I remember holding the giraffe and leaning over in the shopping cart by the steak. I was holding the damn thing in my left hand and reaching for something.
And yes, I do remember actually putting down the giraffe with the steaks. Why the hell did I do that?
Oh right, it was the lead paint I must have been chewing.

Well, when we got home from Grand Union that afternoon, guess what I was missing? My mom searched through all her bags and it was nowhere to be found. She even called the store and spoke to the manager, or at least that’s what she told me.

“Oh, a lost and found, I’ll be right over”.

And now, this is what they call “mother’s love”. My mom actually walked all the way back to Grand Union to look for my giraffe.
And sadly returned empty handed.

I was devastated, my little rubber giraffe was gone forever.
I certainly lost the "lead" of my life.
The year was 1960, and it was never the same without "it".

Today was the first time that I have been in the newly renovated Foodtown. I was shocked to see that they actually moved everything in the store around, including where the meats have always been.
My wife has been telling me about it for weeks now, and I must say they are doing a wonderful job. The store really looks great, it's like shopping in the suburbs!

And as I left the store I couldn't help but remember my little rubber giraffe. Thinking that someone may have found it behind the meat compartment while they were renovating the store. Just a half chewed faded yellow and brown rubber toy, sitting in the same dark spot for forty-seven years. With it's two litte eyes just staring into space, and always wondering what ever happened in the "Grand Union" that day back in 1960, when it was left behind.

Ron Lopez
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