When we were little kids, my cousins– mostly ‘Kaya and I– made up a lot of ways to spend time. My oldest female cousin and big-sister-surrogate, ‘Kaya, had spina bifida and so we did a lot of things that involved at least one of us mostly sitting. We did a lot of making things up and talking, and I sometimes think it served to skew some of my conversational concerns. It doesn’t take long for me to get all “Why aren’t we talking!?” because I didn’t do a lot of those “We’re working so hard, talking is impossible” things.
One of the oldest ones I remember was digging holes. We were small people, with inadequate tools. there wasn’t a lot of danger in our pursuits, except perhaps to the spoons we sometimes made off with to use as mini-spades. We would spend what seemed to be hours trying to make a respectable hole. None of us ever, even working together, made something one of us could stand in, but that was the dream. Well, that was the dream at first. Later we had to jazz it up a bit.
I don’t remember who the first one was to have heard of digging all the way to China. Perhaps we had learned of the roundness of the world and asked what was opposite of us. Perhaps someone asked if we were digging to China, and of course we said “yes” because once it was out there it was the coolest thing ever. Once that was out there, we would dig, and make plans, and start thinking about the most efficient way. Clearly we weren’t making very good progress, so we had to dig a deep, narrow, hole. This hole would need to be easy to slide into, so we had our first thoughts of ergonomics: We would contour our holes so that we could slide right in, with arm and leg “slots.”
Eventually, we were so overwhelmed with the possibilities of hole-related transportation, we imagined that we’d divert our paths to somewhere closer: Disneyland. Rather, we would say we were going to visit Mickey and Minnie Mouse. In my mind, that was Disneyland. Perhaps in the others minds it was some underground place where they lived. I don’t believe our discussions ever generated enough cognitive dissonance that we got specific. Other cartoon characters followed, but for one reason or another, Mickey and Minnie stick out.
Santa’s name was bandied about, I know this much.
Another, more disturbing when I think now, destination was “The devil and the people.” The phrase is exact and just seemed to roll off of our tongues. I don’t know what the others were picturing, but somehow in my head it was quite a lot like Wolfman Jack and a bunch of generic people. I don’t know now if we were going to rescue said “people.” I don’t remember ever discussing the inherent evil and danger in going to see the devil and his “people.” I’m, again, not sure where the concept came from, but it’s obvious how the connection worked. We were digging. Hell is traditionally subterranean. It fits by that logic.
Once, in our diggings, we hit upon some kind of abandoned mini-warren of some sort and felt elated at all this extra “hole making” that was already done. It didn’t amount to much, and as usual the holes would mysteriously disappear before we got too far. I guess our folks wanted to save us from Mickey, the devil, and those chinamen.
It was really all a stopgap between trying to make trucks use their airhorns…