Odd memories, part 14

Those memories – sometimes they’re stirred by the oddest things. Especially when they’re odd in themselves.

Watching an episode of Sealab 2021 recently dug this one from the (sordid) depths, but that show can do that to you. Sealab 2021 is a reboot, or something, of a children’s cartoon from, my dog, 1972, called Sealab 2020 (look closely if you have to.) I remember watching this show on Saturday mornings, which is what kids did before cable networks devoted entirely to cartoons existed, and (not to brag or anything) I even had the Sealab 2020 board game.


Williams Street productions obtained the rights to the situations and characters and brought them back for a series on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late night hosting block, aimed at… uh… a bit more earthy humor. Or warped. Juvenile. You’re getting the idea. Williams Street took the characters from the original children’s environmentally-themed action show and made them more than mildly dysfunctional, wrapped up in truly bizarre plotlines that often ended with the destruction of the sealab itself. Notably, it ran five times as long as the original…

Anyway, the memory. Some years back I was out scouting photographic subjects, and had stopped the truck on a lonely stretch of road, the kind where shallow graves tend to appear, if that helps you imagine the setting. While looking at a large dead tree, I spotted a small piece of luggage sitting not far from the roadside, not Louie Vitamin style or anything, but much nicer than one would expect to see in such a location, and in quite good shape. Now, because of my photography habits, I am often in search of useful bags, since the manufacturers don’t recognize my demographic very well, so I scooted off the road into the thin underbrush to fetch it; plus, since it looked recently discarded in this remote locale, there was some curiosity as to why.

A quick peek inside back when I reached the truck satisfied that curiosity while tempering much of any future curiosity as well. To my short inspection, the bag contained some lacy undergarments, something with a whole lot of leather straps (perhaps more than one something,) and an adult magazine. Hah! You thought with a lead-in about shallow graves and thwarted curiosity, there were gonna be body parts or something, didn’t you?

[A brief digression here to examine the abuse of the word, “adult.” Its meaning is perhaps the most variable in the English language – you are an ‘adult’ at age 12 when it comes time to pay for entry into amusement parks and movies, except that you’re still way too young to see an R-rated movie, for which you have to be accompanied by an adult, which suddenly means over 18. Of course, ‘adult’ movies, the ones that feature non-simulated sex, have the same age restriction, even though the age of consent is 16 in the US, but 18 is when you can be tried as an adult. Also note that it is easier to see graphic dismemberment on the screen than it is to see sex, which is a peculiar part of our culture. By the way, 18 is fine for voting and military service, but 21 is the limit for alcohol and cigarettes – again, it’s not clear who’s making these distinctions. Getting back to “adult” now, you cannot live in an adult home until you’re over 65, yet you can wear adult undergarments (not the kind mentioned above, which are usually worn by 16-year-old girls) at any age, as long as you’re incontinent. And I have not noticed any particular distinction or pattern, in relation to all of the above, when pronouncing it “uh-DULT” or “AA-dult.” And of course, what precisely is meant by the word when used in ‘Adult Swim’ is anybody’s guess, but maturity is not exactly the byword I think.]

The bag I simply dropped into the bed of the pickup truck and forgot about, and don’t ask me why right now, because I really don’t know – maybe I was thinking of re-gifting it come christmastime. A few days later however, when a friend of mine noticed the bag and asked why I was leaving it out in the weather, I invited him to look inside. He spent just as long as I had perusing the contents (which is to say, a few seconds, without bothering to actually reach inside,) before he handed it back to me. I wish I could remember the conversation that ensued, but I do remember tossing the bag negligently (a ha ha – think about it) back into the truck.

In moments, our conversation stopped, as the new sound now emanating from the bag made itself heard. This is where Sealab 2021 comes in.

The clip doesn’t do it justice, either, since the bag was sitting on the sheet metal of the truck bed. The sound was magnified by this, echoing slightly in an ominous manner, and I could have sworn I heard, “There is no Dana, only Zuul.” My memory wants to insist the bag was dancing around the bed in small pirouettes, but this would take some pretty powerful batteries and my memory is a liar sometimes – though, this would help explain why someone (perhaps while walking funny) tossed it out…

My friend and I exchanged glances briefly, confirming that neither one of us intended to reach inside to shut anything off, or even wanted to be seen in the general vicinity. I’m pretty sure no further words were uttered, but I can’t vouch for giggling.

I realize now that I missed a photoblog opportunity. I could have mailed the contents out to various volunteers across the globe, who would have taken photos of said contents alongside various tourist attractions and landmarks, to be posted as a travelogue online someplace. Perhaps named it some variation of, “Where’s Waldo?”…

*     *     *

A small follow-up note: As I post this, one of the recommended videos that appears after the clip ends is titled, “Vanishing Bottle Prank,” which I cannot help but feel is in exceptionally poor taste. I always thought better of YouTube…

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