Yes, as a matter of fact I do. My childhood, that is. Why didn’t I think of that when a schoolyard bully had me in a half-Nelson. (I can’t imagine what the other half was like). I probably yelled, I take it back….whatever I said. I wasn’t against fighting on principle; I was against it because I’m a congenital coward.
And now I’m running out of childhood. If I had known I was going to need it I would have paid more attention when it happened. We only get one. I want to make something of it but I may have milked it dry. I need a Boswell for my Johnson, a diarist. Imagine Tweeting your entire life? No, I can’t either. But it wouldn’t hurt if I could recover just a bit more of my temps perdu. Since I was deprived of a deprived childhood the only recourse is to write about what almost happened.
Woody Allen said his only regret in life is that he’s not someone else. My secret is that I am someone else. The real me was lost at the 1939 World’s Fair. I was walking along clinging to my father’s coat when I looked up and saw that it wasn’t my father. We had just come out of the General Motor’s exhibit called, Futurama. I was six years-old with my head in orbit. Who knew I had left my previous life behind and was about to begin anew?
I wonder how long it took my father to realize I was gone…..a few minutes, months, never? I made a remarkable adjustment to my new family. We never spoke about it. They fed and clad me and signed my report card.
One August Sunday, when I was twelve, we all went to Rockaway Beach, found a patch of sand, threw down a blanket and dug our rented umbrella into the sand. 100,000 others had the same idea. From the sky we must have looked like a garden of peonies. I ran into the waves splashing and drifting laterally to Far Rockaway, drunk on sun and saltwater. Strange how the lifeguard station had changed and the hotdog stand was gone. I wandered among the orange umbrellas until they thinned. I was finally claimed by a large family, my third parents, who had an extra place at their table and a closet of hand-me-downs.
In my last version I was carried away at Birdland listening to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie going at it at full throttle, reed to wind. When Sarah Vaughn sang I disappeared in the smoke and sound climbing octaves.