Music is crucial. Beyond no way can I overstress this fact. Let's say you're southbound on the interstate, cruising alone in the middle lane, listening to AM radio. Up alongside comes a tractor trailer of logs or concrete pipe, a tie-down strap breaks, and the load dumps on top of your little sheetmetal ride. Crushed under a world of concrete, you're sandwiched like so much meat salad between layers of steel and glass. In that last, fast flutter of your eyelids, you looking down that long tunnel toward the bright God Light and your dead grandma walking up to hug you--do you want to be hearing another radio commercial for a mega, clearance, closeout, blow-out liquidation car-stereo sale?
Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency.
When you ate her tuna casserole, you didn’t talk or flip through a National Geographic. Your eyes and ears stayed inside your mouth. Your whole world kept inside your mouth, feeling and careful for the little balled-up tinfoils Irene Casey would hide in the tuna parts. A side effect of eating slow was, you naturally, genuinely tasted, and the food tasted better. Could be other ladies were better cooks, but you’d never notice.
By first believing in Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy, Rant Casey was recognizing that those myths are more than pretty stories and traditions to delight children. Or to modify behavior. Each of those three traditions asks a child to believe in the impossible in exchange for a reward. These are stepped-up tests to build a child's faith and imagination. The first test is to believe in a magical person, with toys as the reward. The second test is to trust in a magical animal, with candy as the reward. The last test is the most difficult, with the most abstract reward: To believe, trust in a flying fairy that will leave money. From a man to an animal to a fairy. From toys to candy to money. Thus, interestingly enough, transferring the magic of faith and trust from sparkling fairy-dom to clumsy, tarnished coins. From gossamer wings to nickels... dimes... and quarters. In this way, a child is stepped up to greater feats of imagination and faith as he or she matures. Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency.
The big reason why folks leave a small town,' Rant used to say, 'is so they can moon over the idea of going back. And the reason they stay put is so they can moon about getting out.' Rant meant that no one is happy, anywhere.
Each holiday tradition acts as an exercise in cognitive development, a greater challenge for the child. Despite the fact most parents don't recognize this function, they still practice the exercise. Rant also saw how resolving the illusions is crucial to how the child uses any new skills. A child who is never coached with Santa Claus may never develop an ability to imagine. To him, nothing exists except the literal and tangible. A child who is disillusioned abruptly, by his peers or siblings, being ridiculed for his faith and imagination, may choose never to believe in anything- tangible or intangible- again. To never trust or wonder. But a child who relinquishes the illusions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, that child may come away with the most important skill set. That child may recognize the strength of his own imagination and faith. He will embrace the ability to create his own reality. That child becomes his own authority. He determines the nature of his world. His own vision. And by doing so, by the power of his example, he determines the reality of the other two types: those who can't imagine, and those who can't trust.
Beginning with Santa Claus as a cognitive exercise, a child is encouraged to share the same idea of reality as his peers. Even if that reality is patently invented and ludicrous, belief is encouraged with gifts that support and promote the common cultural lies. The greatest consensus in modern society is our traffic systems. The way a flood of strangers can interact, sharing a path, almost all of them traveling without incident. It only takes one dissenting driver to create anarchy.
At some point, Wax mentioned how appalling it seemed that those brilliant minds who could invent miracle medicines and nuclear fission and dazzling computer special effects, they had such a complete lack of imagination when it came to spending their money: granite countertops and luxury cars. Talking about that stuff, Wax driving, the madder he got, you could watch the speedo creep up past eighty, ninety, a hundred.
If you look at old pictures, Irene Casey is so pretty. Not just young, but pretty the way you look when your face goes smooth, the skin around your eyes and lips relaxed, the pretty you only look when you love the person taking the picture.
Picture the moment when your mom and dad first saw you as something other than a pretty, tiny version of them. You as them, but improved. Better educated. Innocent. Then picture when you stopped being their dream.
Listen up. Rant would tell people: ‘You’re a different human being to everybody you meet.’ Sometimes Rant said, ‘You only ever is in the eyes of other folks.’ If you were going to carve a quote on his grave, his favorite saying was: ‘The future you have tomorrow won’t be the same future you had yesterday.