I have been compiling some Classic Stories from my youth. I thought I’d pass a few of them on.
Every school morning when I was in high school, I used to walk 10 blocks to meet up with a friend of mine, then he and I would take public transit (“the big green limousine”) to school. About three blocks before his house, I would stop in this one garage that was always open, to smoke a cigarette. I was 15 and my parents didn’t yet know that I smoked.
One day I noticed that there were hundreds of books in this garage. Upon further investigation I discovered that these books were all porn novels. (“He slipped his hand over her milky white breasts, caressing the…” and so on.) I took one to school to read. After reading it, I showed it around to all my friends. One of my friends offered to buy it. Supply and demand, I said $10.00. He readily agreed. My other friends asked if I could get any more.
By the end of the semester, I had stolen almost all of the Garage Man’s porn books and sold them to my classmates at school. Once I ran out of books, I stopped and moved on.
When I was a kid, I loved to play in water. During the summer, my parents would drop me off at the local country club at 7 am for swim team practice and come back for me at 9 pm when the pool was about to close.
I remember begging them to let me stay.
Every summer I would have green hair because I would spend so much time in the pool that the chlorine in the pool would react with my white-blond hair and turn it a nice shade of green.
During the school year, when the pool was closed, I devised a game to keep me in water. We lived in a house that had about 25 wide concrete steps leading from the sidewalk up to our front porch.
I would take one of our trashcans up to the porch, fill it to the top with water, get in the trashcan, and dump myself over. The water and I would go cascading down all the steps, onto the sidewalk.
I did this over and over, taking a 20-minute break between rides while the water refilled in the trashcan. At the end of the game, I would usually have brush burns on my chest from slamming into the concrete steps as I was shooting down them.
I was telling Carlos this story:
Carlos: “Where were your parents when you were barreling down the steps on a small plane of water, almost killing yourself?”
Me: “Oh, they were around somewhere. Their theory was that as long as I wasn’t bothering them, I was okay, whatever I was doing. My parents weren’t neglecting me; they just trusted me.”
I played this between 12 and 14. My sister Claudia often played with me. She’s 8 years younger than I am.
My mom had me when she was 23 and Christine (my sister) came 13 months later.
(Christine and I were both accidents. My informal family nickname is “Went On The Honeymoon” since my mom was three months pregnant for me when my parents got married. Christine’s informal family nickname is “Can’t Get Pregnant While You’re Breastfeeding” because my Aunt Barbara – my mom’s supposedly-all-knowing younger sister - told my mom that. And Christine was conceived while my mom was breastfeeding me.)
I don’t think my mom was prepared for us. And she definitely wasn’t ready for two kids under 3 (and we were really wild kids) before she was 26.
Since she’s the oldest child in her family (thus had no one to ask about parenting) and since my dad was always at work during this time, she had to improvise a lot.
All of my family had a habit of reading while we ate. Not during family meals – We always ate those together while I was growing up. Even my dad was home in time. But when we were sitting down at the kitchen table alone, we would naturally would go to the bookshelf in the kitchen, pick out a book, get our food, read and eat.
My mom dealt with the dreaded Sex Talk by putting books on sex on that bookshelf. From the time I was 8 years old or so, my sister and I were perusing such titles as “Talking To Your 5-8 Year Old About Sex”, “Talking To Your 9-12 Year Old About Sex”, “Dealing With Sexually Transmitted Diseases”, “Your First Period”, “The Pill and Its Alternatives”, and my favorite because it had some graphic illustrations, “Where Do Babies Come From?”.
My parents never mentioned any of this to us. One day these books just appeared on the kitchen bookshelf, and Christine and I read them all. She and I were some of the most knowledgeable kids in our peer group.