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The Earliest

I will start as early as I remember:

My parents’ bedroom in the dark, my head weighed heavily on my mother’s breast. The slow, steady movement of the rocking chair next to the window. My cheek rested on my mother’s night gown, a soft satin sensation that left my tiny hands grabbing for more. Comfortable. Safe. Tired. Satisfied.

The sun batting me awake. So bright I thought it could blind me through my eyelids. My brother, Eli, to blame. We shared a brown or maybe orange buggy, barely large enough for the two of us. The topper was a quarter sphere and connected at the buggy’s midpoint, and as such only shaded half the buggy at a time. Eli had flipped the cover to the other side. We were at Valley Fair, I think, off to the right near the antique cars. But, like a dream, they weren’t there. Someone had cotton candy, pink not blue, and I wanted some for my face. Not to feed my face, but for rubbing because it looked soft. Also, there were no clouds, which ruined my nap. I was not strong enough to flip the cover back, nor even to stand up. So I lay there in misery, plotting, formulating a plan to change places with my brother.

It was autumn. I awoke in the darkness of my bed and wandered downstairs. I found no one there. My mother and father had not yet divorced. It was strange that one of them would not be there if the lights were on. I knew the button for the TV. I also knew it was way past my bedtime. I decided to hide underneath one of the wood framed chairs, which, looking back, means I curled up to about the size of a ten pound bag of flour. The TV channel was the Home Box Office. I remember the HBO lettering, even though I certainly couldn’t read yet. The program that started had a beach setting in the evening. At one point, one of the actors was (I think) the guy who played the classic nerd in every early 80s movie made. My memories may be confused, but in one of his movies he opens a beer bottle with his eye…. Anyway, there were definitely boobs on the TV at some point. Women boobs, which were much more substantial and I dare say rewarding in some way? I wanted to keep watching, though I could not have said why. Mom and Dad walked in shortly after. They couldn’t figure out why the TV was on. A quick search included the kitchen, the back room, and the bathroom before they found me. They had been out for a walk. I wonder what they talked about, being so close to their divorce. Dad dragged me to bed by the arm, perhaps more roughly than was necessary.

It was summer, and the family was at a cabin, including Dad, so again, probably before the divorce. Eli and I had action figures, Dr. Doom and Captain America among them (the ones released in 1984). The cabin had one light  above a card table. Dad emptied a bag of assorted Hershey’s chocolates onto it and told us to have some. I liked the ones with the nuts. The entire family was there.

I remember answering that I was three years old, though I don’t remember who asked.

You should know that I often dressed up in my mother’s nighties (so soft!). And I do mean that plural. I put on as many as four nighties at a time (so so so so soft!). Then, like a beauty queen without a float, I would sometimes parade down the sidewalk outside. Where some boys may have been mortified to be labeled a mama’s boy, considering this a walk of shame, I was never and have never been ashamed to be like my mother, whose unfaltering kindness patiently stripped from me the common desire of boys to benefit themselves by controlling other living things. But my mom was embarrassed. She would recruit my brothers as regulators. Sending them to collect me from the street corner where, had we lived in a larger city, I am likely to have been propositioned for illegal activities. And, yes, there are photos. To add to their delight, my mouth is smeared over with chocolate. I am smiling. Good times.


This behavior may be explainable by the first memory listed above, but I do not remember the exact chronology, just that these things happened. I guess the point is that I have been a conscious creature, actively making decisions that I could later reflect on, since I was approximately three. The stories to follow in this blog are the unique and often unfortunate ones that constitute me.

The Omens

I wasn’t born a naughty kid; I learned from watching my brothers. Especially Eli. We had a number of, well, let’s call them unspoken arrangements. It’s just how two people work when they spend enough time together. For example, when Mom pushed the grocery cart down the aisle and wandered, say, three feet from the cart, we got our snack time on. The arrangement was that Eli would open the package. Usually cookies. Keebler or Nabisco. Anything but Fig Newtons which took about ten years to properly appreciate and another five to un-appreciate again. Once Eli tore it open, I ate the first couple. Who was really to blame? Me for the eating, him for the opening?

The answer according to dear Mum would be that we were both little shits. We each blamed the other, of course, and then mentally hi-fived when the treats had to be paid for and then not wasted. In retrospect, it would have been a better teaching device to throw them away in front of our faces, to not let Eli have any for opening the container, and maybe even to beat him with a broom handle since it was really his fault that we had to pay for the cookies in the first place. But Mom loved us even when we were pricks, which played out to a much higher degree once we became teenagers, but that’s getting ahead of this blog entry.

This entry is about the first naughty things I remember (besides watching softcore porn when my parents went on a walk). Eli was naturally the captain of misadventures, and our older brother, Josh, was the victim. We did terrible things to that poor eldest brother, or at least the things in this life that he loved most: his toys.

Okay, Josh, here is the official apology that you have been demanding for nearly four decades now. I am announcing this officially to the entire world (or as much of it as both finds and reads this blog). Bear in mind that I am accepting partial blame only, to a maximum of 50% unless otherwise noted. Anything that I omit or don’t mention never officially happened, as course of record, and as such I am neither admitting to nor sorry for, so you can cram it:

I apologize for:

1). Stealing your complete collection of original Star Wars figures—which, I checked Ebay and, wow, that would have been worth LOTS of $$$ today!!!—and, one by one, burying them in the sandbox. Or underneath the apple tree. Or in the sand piles at the cement factory across the street. Can you imagine having your sidewalk put in only to have the top half of Boba Fett sticking out? You’d be the coolest kid on the block… Also, I apologize for putting a steak knife to the AT-AT walker (100% me). I remember knowing it was wrong at the time. I also remember thinking it would be cooler with openings on both sides for the figures to jump in and out. I had not yet seen The Empire Strikes Back. If you had watched it with me, I could have replayed those moments instead of relying on my serrated, cutlery-dependent imagination (let’s give you a 10% blame share on that one).

2). Jetfire. Perhaps the coolest Transformer ever. While Eli played with Soundwave and this flip open bot who wasn’t dignified enough to have name, I got Jetfire. We hid in the bushes at the corner house on Thompson and 4th, though I certainly didn’t know streets had names when we did this. Eli and I just knew no one would find us there with our bounty, and we were right. Oh, and yeah, sorry about tearing his arm off, breaking one wing in half, and snapping off the antennae on his head.

3). Your model airplanes. I feel the worst about this. Maybe it’s because you hand painted them. You assembled them with carefully laid epoxy. And then, proud of the hours upon hours needed to achieve this, you strung fishing line through them and hung them from the ceiling. You created your own miniature WWII dogfight, frozen in time at the top of the stairs. They were high enough that your troublesome little brothers couldn’t reach them. And why would we want to?
   I had no aptitude for language at that age, let alone foreign languages, but one word, man: piñata. Did I know what one was? No. Did I discover the joy of batting things down with a stick? Oh, yes! This may be more than you want to hear, Josh, but the plastic black baseball bat wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t coordinated enough to strike it’s limited surface area against the spinning, pendular motion of planes after first contact. So eventually, problem-solver that I am, I dragged a kitchen chair upstairs. Heavy though it was, took about fifteen minutes (I dropped it a couple times). Then I dug the pink, beefy wiffle ball bat our of the closet. Sixteen seconds. Max. I don’t think any of those planes withstood more than three hits.
   I don’t remember how heartbroken you were when you first witnessed all the destruction. You probably thought that these were omens, that your brother must be the antichrist.

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