The first time I ever saw Steve McQueen

Day 388-ish

It was probably spring of 1969, or early summer. I was three, and, yes, I can remember stuff from when I was three. Two even.

My step-grandmother got really ill, and no one would take care of her since everyone in the family hated her. So my mom decided to do it. (It was my dad’s stepmother) The two of us flew from Great Falls, Montana to West Palm Beach, and took care of her for six weeks. My dad would fly down from Montana on the weekends, spend the night, then head back again. It was the 60s and you could do that.
Anyway, so she had a small, dark retiree house that I have only vague memories of, which was full of dark child-hazard retiree things (“Butterscotch Candies,” trip-hazards, top-heavy bookcases, etc) I think. I don’t remember details. the lights were always out in there. In any event, there was no room for us in the house itself, so my mom and I slept in the screened-in back porch. For six weeks. On those rickety fold-out old-people cots with springs and stuff. Not like couch beds, but big low metal things that folded in half in the middle and had springs holding up a thin mattress, like you’d see in a hospital drama from around 1940. I used to sleep with my hand between the mattress and the metal edge of the frame because it calmed me down for some reason.
Every morning we’d get up, unmake the cots, fold ’em up and stack ’em by the wall, eat breakfast,and then my mom would take care of step-grandma Lucille while I was pretty much stashed on the back porch, without a lot of toys, if any. (Can’t remember specifically, but I’m not sure matchbox cars even existed yet. Or was it hotweels? I’m pretty sure Hotwheels didn’t exist until 1969) Anyway, I sat out there all day drawing with my crayons, making random patterns of circles and boxes that I called cars. When I got bored, I’d watch TV. I can’t remember if the TV was on the porch, or just inside in the dark house.
Anyway, one day, on a saturday, I turned on the TV and heard this snazzy theme song that genuinely sounded pretty good.
Yeah! What 3 year old wouldn’t enjoy that?
Then it starts out with a meteor crashing! Even better! Then some gummy old fool pokes the meteor with a stick and it breaks open and the blob climbs up the stick and on to the old guy’s arm. He runs away screaming and Steve McQueen hits him with his car. I screamed, turned off the TV, and hid on the porch, worried that the Blob was gonna get me.
Later that day my dad got in from the airport, and we went for a walk on the golf course my grandmother’s house backed up to. He could tell something was bugging me, but he couldn’t coax it out of me. I was afraid that if I talked about it, it would happen. Later he tried to hold my hand to make sure I’d be safe while we were walking around the neighborhood.
I yanked my hand away because I was afraid the blob would somehow materialize in between our hands and eat us both. My dad was very annoyed at this.
And that is the story of the first time I saw Steve McQueen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *