Brett Buckner: Hiding from Clifford in my happy place
Feb 10, 2013 | 961 views |  0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When reality is simply too horrible to comprehend, the mind needs somewhere to go — a safe place, a happy place.

For instance, when getting a root canal and the smell of the whirring drill boring into a rotten tooth to the point of nausea, panic and pain despite heavy doses of Novocain, some may seek emotional rescue by looking back to a particularly happy time and place in their lives, like walking on the beach with someone they loved.

Personally, I delve into the abyss of pop culture.

For example, trying to come up with my Desert Island Top 5 Bands:

Iron Maiden

Bad Religion

Bob Dylan

Bruce Spingsteen

Drive-by Truckers

Or, my Top 5 movies of all-time favorite:


“Halloween” (the original)

“American Psycho”

“High Fidelity”

“Boogie Nights”

Or the worst Stephen King novels ever … keeping in mind that this appears to be a growing list: (In no particular order) “From a Buick 6,” “Dreamcatcher,” “Under the Dome,” “Insomnia,” “Cell,” “Duma Key.”

Or listing all the KISS albums in chronological order (excluding the 811 “greatest hits”: “Kiss,” “Hotter than Hell,” “Dressed to Kill,” “Alive!,” “Destroyer,” “Rock and Roll Over,” “Alive II,” “Double Platinum,” solo albums, “Dynasty,” “Unmasked,” “Music from the Elder,” “Creatures of the Night,” “Lick It Up,” “Animalize,” “Asylum,” “Crazy Nights,” “Hot in the Shade,” “Revenge,” “Kiss Alive III,” “Unplugged,” “Carnival of Souls,” “Psycho Circus,” “Sonic Boom” and “Monster.”

The past week, I found myself surrounded by hundreds of screaming kids hopped up on Coke and the chance to be up way past bedtime on a weeknight, sitting in seats that knocked against my knees while trying to keep a wiggle worm nicknamed Jellybean to stay still until the curtain opened. This Calgon-take-me-away evening went by another name — “Clifford the Big Red Dog: Live.” Yep, when reading the books just isn’t enough, you too can take your child to see the real thing.

Despite my trademark cynicism, I was actually pretty excited. It was Jellybean’s fifth birthday and, given that it fell on a Tuesday, a family adventure to the theater seemed like a suitable celebration, at least until Sunday’s actual party.

So I was initially determined to stay in the moment; to remember Jellybean’s unabashed joy and store it away in my memory banks for a time when she was a teenager who openly and loudly disliked me. Maybe it was the throng of squealing kids waving around these sparkling, twinkling, seizure-inducing swords for a king’s ransom in the gift kiosk. Maybe it was the terrible songs about wanting a dog for Christmas or moving to Birdwell Island, or the simple fact that, save for my access to money and a car, I really didn’t belong here … my mind began to wander.

I loved Clifford, and granted, he’s big, really big, but how come no one ever seems to address the fact that he’s freakin’ RED? I mean really red. Like Carrot Top on fire red. And no one ever seems to address this. Or, come to think of it, just how he got to be so big. I mean is this due to radiation from some sort of nuclear fallout, like Godzilla? And what do they do with the poop? All that food has to go somewhere, and is it Mary Elizabeth’s job to clean that up?

I was going off on an internal tangent when it was time for intermission and Jellybean thankfully leaned forward and said, “Can we go? I’m ready to go home.”

Guess mine wasn’t the only mind that was wandering.

Brett Buckner can be contacted at
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