A List of Firsts II

First Concert:  Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  First and best. I must have been about 16.  I remember it well.  I was supposed to drive that night but earlier in the day, I had a terrible accident, another first, in the parking lot of Skaggs Albertson in North Little Rock.   A speeding El Dorado broadsided me as I was leaving the lot.  No injuries thank god, but the family cruiser, a 78 Impala was practically impaled.  The worst thing was I didn’t think I’d be able to go to the concert, and feared I’d leave my friends without a ride too.  Fortunately, HD, my guitarist friend stepped up and got us there.  It was festival seating and we arrived early and walked right up to the front of the stage and stayed there all night.  I was there to see Clapton, so when Muddy walked onto the stage, I hoped it’d be a quick set.  And then he started playing and blew me away.  I just stood there with my mouth open in awe the whole set.  Clapton was great of course, but Muddy, one of Clapton’s idols and a clear influence on his music, was the show.

First Computer.  It was a Leading Edge, with two floppy disk drives and no internal hard drive. It was a pre-Windows machine running DOS.  This was back before the days of the Internet if you can imagine such a time.  All I could do with the thing was type and save documents to a floppy disk, but unless you are my age or older, you probably can’t imagine just how revolutionary word processing was back in the day.

First experience with the Internet.  The dial-up thing with AOL was a trip and a very slow one at that.  And e-mail – totally cool.  My first free e-mail account was with Fastmail.  It had a .fm suffix.  A lot of people tried to correct me when I gave out my email address.  They’d say, oh you mean .com or .net and I’d say no .fm and they’d think I was stoned or something.

First shot.  A shotgun.  The kick almost knocked my arm off.  No one told me it’d kick like that.  It was a 12 guage single shot.  Maybe it was a cheap one, I don’t know.  I went duck hunting a couple of times with it, but never hit anything.  And the thing is, you really only get one shot with a single shot and you’d better be dead on. I was too cold to shoot straight and not really into the moment and when I did half-heartedly aim and pull the trigger, I just scared those mallards and drakes or whatever they were all away.  Who knows, it might have been that “extinct” ivory-billed woodpecker spotted in the woods of Arkansas.  Glad I’m a bad shot.  I’d hate to have been the one to inadvertently shoot the last one.  That’d be a bad first – the first to kill the last ivory-bill.  I gave that shotgun to my cousin who knew how to shoot it and I gave up hunting and guns for good.

A List of Firsts

I’ve compiled a list of significant firsts, certainly not an exhaustive one, but one I feel comfortable disclosing to a general audience.

Reading:  I remember not being able to read when I was 4 or 5.  I could read the world around me even though I couldn’t yet read the word.   What I would have given to do it before I entered first grade, but there were other tasks to conquer first.

Tying Shoe Laces:  It just looked so complicated.  I thought I’d never learn.

Whistling:  Not easy.  I faked it pretty convincingly for a few years, by blowing out a high pitched screech – sort of like a ventriloquist.

Writing in cursive.  Also seemed complicated and it was.  Some letters I never got the hang of like the cursive capitals G and Z.

Shooting a basketball.  The goal was just impossibly high.

First bat in baseball.  I thought I was going to get beaned in the head, and I almost did.  Not sure 8  year olds should be out on the mound.

First fish.  It practically caught itself.  I picked up the rod and reel and there it was on the end of my line.

Swimming.  Didn’t think I’d ever get beyond dog paddling that first day.  I actually became a pretty good swimmer.

First flight.  I was scared to death, but fascinated.   I couldn’t have been more than 4.  I racked up a lot of miles though as a kid with my uncle the pilot who flew Cessna and Beachcraft planes.  To this day, I love flying.

First solo car drive.  I knew what I was doing, but I still thought it a little crazy for a kid to be allowed on the road with no supervision.  And it wasn’t long before the cops agreed too and issued me my first speeding ticket.  Man was my mom pissed.

First beer.  It was awful.  A warm Schlitz, but I don’t think it would have mattered if it had been ice cold.  Nearly made a teetotaler out of me at a young age.

First cigarette.  A Kool.  A dreadful cigarette. I nearly died.  I later  “smoked” with friends and picked up the habit when I mastered the art of inhaling, which took months.  I never could stomach menthol though.  Fortunately, I never became addicted and quit many years ago.