When I was very very very young, I was introduced to oldies music. This was because my parents were older than the average pair, so I grew up on music that was most popular in the fifties and sixties. This isn’t to say my father didn’t like the eighties, because I definitely grew up on a huge chunk of that decade as well, but oldies were dominant. Oldies and good ol’ John Denver. THANKS MOM.
For whatever reason, I became very attached to the The Monkees as a whole. I don’t remember which channel, it may have been MTV at the time, ran reruns of the Monkees sitcom. I was probably four or five around this time. I probably had no fucking idea what the episodes were about, but what did I care? I had pigtails, mac and cheese, and not a care in the world while I got to watch four zany characters run around, and sing painfully catchy bubblegum pop music. I was a happy child.
It’s funny how children have no perception of time. When I was young, I never knew how old other people were, and I never knew that time had passed from when my favorite shows aired, or what had happened to the characters in them. Ignorance truly is bliss. So, being that happy-go-lucky, bubbly, and oblivious child, I decided to write The Monkees a letter! Man, that show must have been completely realistic, because I seriously thought they all lived together in a beach house in California somewhere. I even thought they played their own instruments!! (BA-ZING) …I’mjustkiddingTheMonkeeswerealltalentedandcouldplaymusicsopleasehumormethanks.
I sat down and composed the most brilliant letter with my prodigal wordsmithing skills.
I really love you! You are funny. I laugh when I see your show. Your music is good. Please please please write back.
My Dad worked for the post office, which was pretty brilliant because he could “mail” my letter for me. My dad the hero! Of course, he didn’t mail the letter because my idea of an address was “The Monkees house.” He kept the letter, and told me he had mailed it the first thing in the morning when he got to work. Since I had no perception of time, I did not question the fact that I had received a reply letter the very next day. As far as I knew, this was completely normal, and my 5 year old brain was squeeing with delight.
My Dad had written me a letter back as The Monkees, saying how much they appreciated my letter and hope I keep watching their show. This letter came in a huge manila envelope, because it also contained two sleeves of Monkees trading cards. My father was a prolific card collector, and he had EVERY genre of trading card available, so I am sure these were cards he had gotten as a kid. This was the first instance of magic I can recall experiencing.
I was SO excited about my new Monkees trading cards, but the sleeves they were in? Pfffft. I couldn’t go through them one by one. Goddamnit, it’s IMPORTANT that I can sort these ONE BY ONE IN A STACK. So my Dad helped me take out each card, and helped me put them in their own individual plastic sleeve, so I could hold them as a stack. After all, it looked like I had more cards when I held them in a stack! I was so proud, even though I was probably irritating the shit out of my Dad by wanting them all in their own sleeve. But, he humored me.
“LOOK AT MY CARDS, DAD. DAD! LOOK AT THIS ONE. MICKY IS ON THIS ONE! LOOK AT THIS ONE, IT’S FUNNY.”
I still have my Monkees trading cards, and I never took them out of their individual sleeves. They have been in those sleeves for over twenty years. I still like to think they really were from The Monkees, because it instills a sense of fantasy in me, and allows me to remember the magical feeling of reading the letter, and feeling special. Reality can be a pretty boring, cruel, and unforgiving place, but as long as I have this memory, which has always been strong, then I still believe in magic.