Ticker Tape and Marching Bands by Bill Arnott

Ticker Tape and Marching Bands

I’m in the corner of the living room
4-year-old me
standing behind a curtain, with a softening red balloon
stuck to a length of Hot Wheels track
flexible yellow plastic that bends when held at one end
and attached to the flaccid balloon is taped
a torn and scalloped piece of foolscap
on which I’ve printed in strong lettering:

Do’t sink I am here dad, because I am not. Sined Billy.

This I wave from behind the curtain
like a white cloth scrap announcing surrender
the fact “because” is spelled correctly
now baffles and delights
like chimpanzees at Remingtons or rows of Smith Coronas
banging out Hamlet or King Lear
perhaps the hardest part is awaiting dad’s arrival
discovery of my wit, my brilliance
the imminent deluge of praise
it wouldn’t be beyond reason
to be hoisted onto shoulders
lead a parade, with cheering, ticker tape
maybe a marching band

Naturally there’d be scheduling to address
requests to appear on TV
dialogue with Johnny, Ed
likely cajole with Doc
then again I may not be able to stay up that late
so sadly have to let that dream go
be satisfied with the parade
and maybe a marching band
I was thinking this through when dad came home
to find his boy no longer behind the curtain
just seated on the sofa
deep in 4-year-old consternation
with a length of Hot Wheels track and a limp red balloon
all attached with tape to a hand-printed note informing him 

not to sink I am here because I am not

to which he smiled, hugged me
the result much better than Johnny, Ed and Doc
ticker tape and yes, even the marching band
Now, more often than not, that’s exactly where I am

First published in BPR with Pandora’s Collective Honorable Mention, 2019

Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of the Gone Viking travel memoirs (Gone Viking: A Travel SagaGone Viking II: Beyond BoundariesGone Viking III: The Holy Grail) and A Season on Vancouver Island. He’s won numerous book awards and received a Fellowship at London’s Royal Geographical Society for his expeditions. When not trekking with a small pack and journal, Bill can be found on Canada’s west coast, where he lives near the sea on Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh land.