FRESH YARN presents:
Day the Sun Exploded
Yeah, that cocaine. A lovely drug. Let me explain. It was 1973, and I was ten years old. My mom, dad and I had just come back from a trip to Hawaii late the night before so we were all sleeping in. At about 11:00 a.m. my dad came into my room and woke me up. He sat on my bed and said, "Kelly, I have something important to tell you." Now those words scared the shit out of me because during our trip to Hawaii my parents had argued every waking moment, which was a lot since they were doing cocaine, and at that particular moment I was sure that he was about to tell me that he and my mom were going to split up.
So I sat up in bed bracing myself for the worst when he said, "Kelly, the sun has exploded and we have eight, no seven and a half minutes to live."
Now, I knew my father had been doing a lot of cocaine and other assorted chemicals, so I thought he was probably just freaking out or something. But no matter how fucked up he was, he was still my dad. And like most daughters, I worshipped him. So I got out of bed and went to have a look.
My parents had these very thick curtains over sliding glass doors in their bedroom to block out the sun so they could sleep all day. My mom, dad and I slowly made our way through the curtains to the backyard. And when we got outside the sun was blinding. You couldn't even open your eyes. It was too painful to even squint them open. We were like some mole family suddenly outside during the day. My God, I can't see! My God what if he's right? My God were we going to die?
I didn't think so. At least I didn't hope so. What I was hoping was that there was a very reasonable explanation: "Maybe it's the smog?" "Maybe it's just that L.A. sun is different from Hawaii sun?" And then my mother chimed in and said to Dad: "Maybe it's the fact that you haven't slept for more than four fucking hours in the last three weeks?" Yeah, thanks Mom.
Now my dad is a very rational man, so he decided that he needed to check and see if this phenomenon was happening anywhere else on the planet. So he called his friend Joe Belardino in Sacramento. He could have called his friend Doc in New York, he explained to me, but there was a three-hour time difference and maybe the effects of the sun exploding wouldn't be so prominent on the East Coast. No we needed someone on this coast.
I remember sitting there on my parents' bed, tensely listening as Dad explained to his friend what was going on.
"Joe, it's George."
"I need you to do me a favor."
"Well, I need you to go outside and check and see if the sun is okay."
"I think the sun has exploded."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Um, do you think you could go now. I don't think we have much time."
Dad turned to us and said, "He's checking."
Now here was the moment of truth for me. Either the news was bad and the sun had exploded, but my dad was a genius for being able to calculate something that involved the speed of light. Or the news was good and the sun hadn't exploded, but my dad had completely lost his mind to drugs. Which would mean that the only sane rational person in our household was me, a ten-year-old who wanted donuts for dinner.
Then I realized that like all the other weird shit that made up my daily life, I could never tell this story at school the next day. Or ever.
I understand now that I never allowed myself to tell the story of what was going on in my life as it was going on. Most of the time I couldn't fucking believe what was going on in my life, so why would anyone else? And so I lived this life that I did not own. I lived the story that I could never tell. And so after the sun exploded, or more accurately after the sun didn't explode, I went into my room and turned on the TV to distract myself with stories that were never real. I've kept it on for the last 30 years.
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