Ok, I know this is my memoir and all, but can I be blamed for having a few junior moments?
The Plums of Childhood
This is fairly unbelievable, if oxymoronic. I left a segment out between Chapters Six and Seven – something very important. So is this Chapter 6 ½? Chapter 7 minus ½? Should I re-number? It's all so confusing. Numbers are not my thing, though I was an excellent math student (don't worry: I will bore you with that in due time). In fact, my daughter just asked me whether, like numbers, colors also do not exist. Why she can't ask the simple questions I don't know. “Mommy, why is the sky blue?” That's easy. Because it's not some other color. “Where do babies come from?” That's easy. From Satan. “Mommy, can I start dating when I'm eleven?” A snap. Yes, if by that, you mean adding dried fruit to your yogurt. “Mommy, why do we itch?” Hold it: that's more difficult. She wasn't speaking of bug bites or poison ivy. I said something like, “it has to do with the circulatory system,” but couldn't elaborate. I'll admit it. I'm no expert on itches. Just don't tell my daughter. She still thinks I know everything – well, everything that doesn't pertain to hair or fashion.
Anyway, this will be a short chapter, detailing the time before the last chapter, in which I became an existentialist, was immortalized as a pig-ship, and discovered my destiny in life. Something big happened which I forgot to mention. We left the apartment and diaper disaster behind (yeah, behind), and moved into a house. I don't remember moving, but know we did, because there were now steps inside the house, instead of outside, and a big front and back yard, and, get this, not one or two, but THREE toilets to terrorize and be terrorized by. But I might have thought we were just visiting a rich uncle (who, like my brother, was hiding due to some unspeakable trauma), or that we had escaped into a different universe, though I did not yet know what constituted a universe (like now). My guess is there was no thinking at all. One day you're somewhere familiar, another day not, like life then death. Except for the constant toilet factor.
We had moved to Milmar Drive, where I met my first real friend. Oh sure, I'd like to say my mother and father were my friends, and my brother, too, whom they had peeled off the back wall of a closet full of junk in order to get across town, but I mean a friend who wasn't related, and by virtue of knowing whom, could sometimes afford escape from those to whom I was and am and always will be. I realize that that was a terrible sentence. It's always that way with proper grammar. As with food, so with grammar. With food, the thing best for you tastes terrible and the best-tasting is killing you each second. I don't think good grammar has actually ever killed anyone, but then I haven't done the research. I can't do it now. I'm busy with the itch thing. An idea, though, would be for you to snail-mail me immediately if you died at the end of the first sentence of the this paragraph. This would be a small favor, and I could really spice up my stamp collection that way.
Re: itching. First entry: Blame your Brain. The thing is, I don't think mine can handle any more criticism. Then there are links like “Why can't you tickle yourself?” and “How Sweat Works.” Suddenly, I have the most non-inquiring mind. I don't want to know how sweat works. I didn't even realize it drew a paycheck! I'm suddenly thrilled with hot flashes. Anyway, I got sidetracked by a pop-up about being 58 and looking 38, via a skin product. Now, I'm not 58, nowhere NEAR, ok, sort of near, a little near (did you know itching can be an emotional thing? aggghh) – but say you snag a man who is also 38, or even 40. Won't he be a little surprised when, in a few years, he wants to climb Pikes Peak, then run a triathalon, and then swim the Atlantic with you, all within the space of two hours, and you are half-knitting, half-dozing in a rocker in between sips of Metamusil? Well, maybe not. Science seems to have answers for looking AND feeling young right up to keeling over. I guess that's a good thing. I can't say for sure. The products are not, thus far, de-aging my (blame-ridden) brain.
Somehow itching led to armored insects, then knights, and then something about 95 percent milk and 5 percent onion juice. I'd rather discuss my first friend, Annie. Annie lived directly across the street and was a gorgeous blond pig-tailed child. I was brunette, plain, and pony-tailed. We were fast friends, fighting constantly. We even went to the bathroom together. There we would talk as one of us sat on one of her (only two) toilets, and the other sat on a triangular leather stool (probably a poor word choice, but that's what it was), facing each other. I can't remember what we talked about, but am sure it wasn't about onion juice, the universe, or how to look 20 years younger, in other words, roughly negative 16.
Our favorite food was marshmallows alternating with potato chips, all the nutrition anyone really needs. Because I was slightly thinner and taller than she (though we were both skinny runts), she “became” Marshmallow, and I, Potato Chip. I can't say more about Annie now because Chapter Seven is in the way. But there's lots more to say, especially about her bozo bike, how we nearly murdered one another in a tool closet, how her oldest brother insisted on calling me “Jello,” and how she informed me, quite authoritatively, that witches lived in the trees behind my long yard, which effectively kept me from ever using the incredible playhouse my father labored over for months. What was I going to tell him? Surely, he'd seen them himself. Is that why he positioned the house there? What does that say about him? About me? About itching (witch being 4/5 itch)?
Ok, so now we are positioned to move toward age 5, my main memory of which is adoring the song “Away in a Manger,” having no idea what it was about, but singing it lustily and passionately along with the rest of my school, which was roughly 60 percent Jewish like me. By that, I don't mean that I'm 60 percent. I'm more like 160 percent. This is why I am reluctant to blame my brain. There's only so much guilt one brunette can handle, especially while typing, itching, answering a ten-year-old's unrelenting string of questions, and inhaling chips in order to bring on hot flashes closer together than end-stage labor-pains. Women are good at multitasking, but there's a limit.
Once, my husband said he could not boil eggs because he was doing the laundry (meaning the machine was running). He was watching TV. But I guess that is already multi-tasking. I don't want to get into man-bashing now. Anyway, I'd need to start with boy-bashing. Although at that young age, I didn't really mix with boys, except my brother, with whom I danced naked before each and every bath together, going cheek to cheek and then getting in the bath only to yank his chain, by which I mean literally, and I don't know where I learned that little ditty ("push the button, pull the chain.....” ) with its accompanying, uh,... choreography? It was all in good fun (mostly for him, of course, which I didn't know at the time), and my mother never said a word about it. By the way, my brother claims to have made a woman of me. But actually, that wasn't until I was nine and we had moved again. Moving definitely DOES age one, with or without a brother. He's just there to speed up the process. Some thanks for making him so deliriously happy in the tub.