The smudges on the lower right are from when this genius dropped the book in a mud puddle on the way home from “show and tell” day at school.

When I found “Sammy the Robot” from my previous blog, I also ran across another treasured relic that has been with me even longer.

My gram was severely disabled by rheumatoid arthritis for my entire memory of her. Most of the time in my life, she was fairly homebound. But when I was a very little kid, she and Pap would take the hour drive down to our house “in the country” from where they lived in Northwest Indiana every so often. They drove in a tank-like early 1970s brown Ford LTD. In my memory, there was nothing more thrilling than walking out of elementary school and seeing it parked down the street, waiting to scoop me up and take me home or to the Dime Store of Broken Dreams for a visit with them.

It was on such a visit when Gram presented me with “My Friendly Giraffe.” I couldn’t get over the fact she’d paid someone to write about me! As if I didn’t already feel loved by her, this confirmed what I’d always suspected: I was the favorite grandkid. By far.

I always thought it was funny that the book was only from her. Not Pap. Just her.

“My Friendly Giraffe” told the sweet story of me (the favorite), playing with my friend Carol (the impressive first of a long line of loud girls who I’ve blissfully crossed paths with) when a legit giraffe walks down the street and into my life to the amazement of all.

The book goes on to say how it’s not easy to tell if a giraffe is friendly–since they don’t wag their tails like a dog. Or purr like a kitten. To tell if its friendly, you have to look it right in the eye. If he’s smiling, then he’s a friendly giraffe. (Likewise, that’s how giraffe’s find out if little boys are friendly.)

In spite of all the commotion around the giraffe, he only paid attention to me (the favorite). This giraffe seems to somehow know me and beckons me and my sister Shelli onto his back and we walk away down the street, disappearing from my world into his. (My other sister Ronda, the middle child, will have a field day with this one.)

I found this quite funny. Notice the poster’s name and the name of their giraffe.

The giraffe takes us to his home–his very tall and narrow home. And on the mailbox the secret of his name is revealed: It’s Einnor. (If it helps at all, at the time I was called Ronnie–and still am by a few people.)

I think there are services still around the print customized booked. I’m sure they’re way more impressive and show up like they were ordered directly from Amazon.com. But the simplistic type of “My Friendly Giraffe” will always win for me. In the late 70s, when a shy, introspective boy unexpectedly receives a book that was written for him–about him–it underscored something.

It did tell me I was special–something my gram told me often. Not in the way the parents of Millennial tell them that. She was trying to bolster me, I think. To make me understand that we are all special and unique and that I should embrace it. “You should never want to blend into the woodwork,” she told me more than once, her eyes focused, her brows furled. “When you walk into a room, you make sure people know it.”

Back then, I wanted nothing more than to blend into the woodwork. But with age and perspective, I know what she was saying, and I agree with her 100%. Now, when I walk into a room everyone knows it…because I trip or something.


Also published on Medium.

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