My parents gave me a gift every morning.
They called it a "morning toy".
They said it was a present for waking up.
Every day, without fail, for most all of my formative years (0-29), my father would present me with a small token of he and my mothers affections. At first, he just gave me the toy, saying "Happy Morning Toy Son Of Mine!" or "Here's Your Morning Toy, My Boy!".
After a while, he added the surprise element of hiding the toys in one of the upstairs closets. Sometimes it was in the towel closet, sometimes the pillow closet, sometimes the linen closet...
But sometimes, sometimes, it was in the most wonderful closet of all.
The fur closet.
My mothers fur closet.
Fur safe, to be more descriptive, for when you opened the closet door, it revealed a six foot by three foot vault.
Green iron door, never locked, pull it open and you would find a CS Lewis like wardrobian wilderness of wonder.
And fur. Enough fur to put the Freberg's on the PETA watch list.
Minks, stoles, rabbit, and beavers.
Which brings me to my next point of interest.
My favorite thing about the fur closet was reaching my hand through the soft coats to find my just rewards which would be stashed at the back.
Fresh from the wrapping room.
Part the soft perfumed fur, and extract the delights found deep inside.
PAGING DR. FREUD!
Dr. Freud, please report to the inside of Donavan's mind on the double.
Furs aside, my fun began.
It might be something as simple as Legos or as complex as a remote controlled robot that played eight-tracks and lit up in the dark. Illuminating on command was a most important feature for the baby's robot to have because most of his playing was done at night.
Perhaps now is as good a time as any to discuss the reason why I have bags under my eyes the size of Louis Vuitton steamer trunks in the picture of me at the top left of this page.
I cannot ever remember, from the age of 1-6, ever going to bed before midnight.
My parents were night people, so it would follow suit that I would be too.
If I wasn't playing Asteroids with Blondie in the recording studio lounge, or in bed with mom watching Starsky & Hutch while eating Cap'n Crunch and half and half, or swimming with my sister in Shaun Cassidy's pool, I was with my best friend.
My father picked me up when I was born and did not put me down until I was thirty.
We had endless adventures together.
My father would take me to the park and swing me in the darkness. His double D-Cell flashlight was loaded with Evereadys and he would shine it onto my tiny Adidas as they punched skyward through the cool night air.
"Kick your legs, son of mine!", he would yell, en-Courage-ing me to shoot for the moon.
If we weren't swinging at the park at 11, we were perusing the magazines at the Hollywood news-stand on the Sunset Strip at Nine Forty Five, or picking up some glazed donuts at the 24-Hour Toluca Mart.
Or, on special nights, we'd be feeding the ponys at the corner of Beverly & La Cienega, as they slept in their stalls.
We'd bring them carrots and sugar cubes just after 10.
My father would take me out as soon as it got dark and we'd explore the night together for hours.
Then, he'd bring me home and put me in bed with my mother while he went away to type.
For years, when people asked me what my father did for a living, I simply said...
Sometimes I'd sneak away and sit beneath his Eames desk, playing with my morning toy and listening to the clackety-clack-clack sound that his brain made.
Other times, I'd fall asleep in my mothers double king, the familar sound of TV snow lulling me into somnolence.
Through my sleepy ears, I'd hear my mom buzz Frances on the intercom.
"Come get the Baby".
"Right away, Mrs. F".
Then the big black arms of my angel in white polyester, then my room with the stucco walls that I was allowed to draw on, then the soft safety net of my orange crib.
Frances would tuck me in, turn out the light and turn on the TV.
The pink noise white snow would play, and I'd be in la-LA land.
Heaven at nine eleven.
Soon, all this would be over.
Soon, a hell like no other would steal me away into it's fiery nightmare of soul sucking torture.
Soon...it would be time start kindergarten.