How Tommy Tippee Blew My Mind
Most baby boomers will remember Tommy Tippee cups. They were a brand of training cup that were weighted on the bottom to avoid spillage, by tipping, and they came with a lid with a sippy spout. At age 2 or 3 I no longer needed a training cup but even as a child I was sentimental about favorite things and had a difficult time letting go. I continued to use my Tommy Tippee cup without the lid, for at least a year or two after becoming adept at drinking out of a regular cup (or as adept as I ever would be)
Tommy Tippee cups featured a picture of their name sake on the side of the cup. As long as you were right handed, as were all ‘normal’ children of the 1950’s and 60’s, the picture faced you as you lifted your cup to drink. The picture was of Tommy himself, a cute little bear, proficiently sipping with a self-satisfied smile on his face. Chin raised, eyes narrowed he seemed to beam proudly as if to say ‘good job with the big girl/boy cup!’ reinforcing our recovery from nipple dependency.
One day as I was sitting at the table drinking from my cup I stared at the smiling face of T.T. and realized that the cup he was holding was the same as mine. This meant his cup also had the same milk sipping Tommy Tippee picture. And in that picture was yet another picture and in that picture another and on and on…Tommy Tippees forever.
I called my Mom into the room to share my discovery.
"Mom” I asked, “how many of them are there?”
"Well there’s one cup and one picture”
“But no there’s a picture in the picture and a picture in that picture and how many more?”
“Well it’s probably infinite” my Mom replied casually
“It means there’s no end, it goes on forever, you know like space”. She said this as if it was something I already understood and for a moment I was wondering if I’d missed something somewhere.
“What do you mean? The stars have to end somewhere?” For some reason I imagined a large wall somewhere in space.
My Mother, being a clever teacher, replied with another question, “But what would come after that?”
“I dunno, more space?” I was reaching here, hoping for the right answer, for as good a teacher as she was I was prepared to match her skills by being a good student. Secretly in my imagination I pictured something like the Wizard of Oz dwelling behind that great space curtain.
“Exactly! More space on and on forever”
I would have preferred the Wizard of Oz answer. I began to cry. “But it can’t just go on forever there’s got to be something else”
“We really don’t know Jenny, that’s all we know” I could see my Mother starting to become slightly impatient. She had been baking bread in the other room and now seconds later she was trying to explain an uncomprehendable concept to a child who was barely into the concrete operations phase of development.
I don’t remember where the conversation went after that, I seem to recall helping my mom bake bread which meant I got to pull off a small piece of dough, mold it into whatever shape I chose and bake it in the oven. Baking bread is a great grounding method when one’s mind begins to spiral into the realm of fear and panic.
Regardless of whether that was indeed the outcome or if I was simply told to finish eating lunch and do whatever it was I did in those days, I do know that in the following weeks and months I spent many a night lying awake in bed staring out my window at the stars overhead wondering how far infinity is. And why no one seemed to have a reasonable answer.
© 2013, Jennifer Hazard