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2004-02-10 - 11:45 a.m.

Commercials have a bigger impact on our lives than most people realize. Commercials can be touchstones that bring us back to another part of our lives; the people, the home we used to live in, the smells and tastes. Some of my earliest memories involve commercials. I remember when Lucky Charms added the purple horseshoe and the song of all the marshmallows in the cereal changed. My mom used to bribe me to take naps by giving me a handful of the marshmallows out of Lucky Charms. I'd never eat them, I'd hoard them for later, and I'd wake up with them stuck to my hand and arms. These days Lucky Charms have red balloons and rainbows and god knows what else. Marshmallow technology has really improved over the years.

I remember the Make A Wish commercials and wanting my mom to Make A Wish for me, not really understanding what the point of the foundation was. I asked her if she could Make A Wish for me and she said I had to have a serious illness first. I started to wish I could be dying too like all those other lucky kids who got to go to Disneyland.

Like I said, I didn't really understand.

I remember the commercials that had sequels. Like when Toucan Sam lost his voice. (I think that was the name of that bird who used to hype Froot Loops.) Will he ever get it back? You have to watch more TV to find out. And presumably eat his cereal.

I remember Saturday morning cartoons and those 3 clay people that would sing "after these messages" and then they'd all bow and their heads would fall off and roll around to a drum roll and then get on the wrong bodies. After this the clay people would stand up with their new heads and finish the song: "we'll be right back." I can't remember the cartoons I watched that went along with those clay people, but I'll probably remember those crazy clay people commercials for the rest of my life.

We had taped the Karate Kid off television when I was younger and my brother and I watched the Karate Kid all the time. One of the more popular commercials during that movie was a Sticklets commercial, with two people in evening dress dancing. I still remember the song: "skinny sticklets, packed with flavor, see how skinny, taste how fat!" I wonder if they even sell Sticklets anymore.

I was filing papers today when I came across the name Daniel LaRusso, which made me think of the Karate Kid, which in turn made me think of that Sticklets commercial, and then all of the other commercials I remember from when I was a child. I started thinking about the old house we used to live in, and my brother Jeffy when he was very young and thought the cat was a pillow. He'd chase it down and try to lay on it.

I remember a tree in our front yard that had two small trunks growing, forming a V shape. We'd try to climb it but only succeed in putting our foot over and over again in the bottom of the V. One day we realized that after putting our foot in that V all the time, we'd made the bark in that place smooth to the touch.

We had a lightpost type thing in our front yard, with a ring around the top of it. Maybe it was for decoration. I guess you could plant some small flowers in it. My neighborhood friend Rachel and I decided to use it to hide a bag of quarters. I don't remember if I went to get them before I moved.

I had also hidden a tiny heart sticker in the place in the wall where the doorknob shuts and latches, in what we called the Green Room in our house, because of the carpeting. There was no door there, so there was just a hole. I had put the heart sticker in that hole when I was three and I remembered to get it when we left. I saw no place to put it in our new house, so I put it into my sticker album. I still have that tiny heart sticker.

I remember playing in the ashes of the grill and getting in trouble for it. But I'd go back and play in them sometimes anyways. I didn't mind getting dirty back then.

I remember my grandiose designs for a birdsnest that I would make out of mud, thus forcing birds to be my friends. It was really hard to make, and eventually my mom said, "What bird would make a home in that nest?" She was right, and I lost interest.

There was a hole in the fence that our neighbors had. The fence wrapped around their house a little bit, and where the hole was there was a perfect place for a secret meeting place, hidden between the house and the fence. My neighborhood friends and I left a note on the neighbors door, rang the doorbell, and ran away. We hid and watched the guy who lived there answer the door and read the note, and say "you can use it for your secret hiding place." He pretended not to see us and just said it outloud to the backyard.

All these things I remembered today because I started thinking about old commercials. I wonder if we still have that old Karate Kid tape. It would be fun to see the commercials again.

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