Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains:
Knatz.com / Personal / Stories / by Age / Kid /
My best friend when I was around the seventh grade was John. Once day I was marauding my neighborhood on my bike: as I’d been doing much of the time, for years. I lived in that saddle!
But I tended to ride close to home, seldom further than the grade school which was just a block over, accessible by quiet streets: little traffic to quake in fear of. But on one particular day John came riding right onto my street. “Come on,” he called, “Let’s ride.” Oh, how that made me look up to this independent! Besides, he was actually a bit taller than I.
I’d seen this kid in school, had never talked to him that I remembered. And I’d never seen ride right onto my street before.
Ride we did, together, always, for years.
John lived on Lakeview Avenue: in a town where “avenue” meant at least some traffic. Not only did John live on Lakeview Avenue, but John lived on the other side of Lakeview Avenue! To get to John’s house you had not only to be on Lakeview Avenue, but to cross Lakeview Avenue. Wow. Now we were heroes, brave kids, adventurers.
Except for a bit of traffic, houses on Lakeview Avenue were like the houses I already knew: family: father, mother. kids. a front yard, a back yard. a driveway, a garage.
John’s father installed a basketball hoop on his garage front! An area to dribble on was paved!
Next door to John’s was a big house with a young family with young children. If I hadn’t been so little myself I would have seen that this mama was some mama! healthy, good-looking, young mother. I was standing there one day, probably with my mouth open. She said something to me, I said something myself, she said something about her kids, she had to take them to be tested for something or other. IQ test, and some physical test, the kids had to shovel something.
I assured her of some platitude. I hoped they did well, passed the test, grew up … She laughed and assured me all she wanted was for them to grow up to be able to lift the shovel!
I was astounded. I’d never heard, never imagined, such a thing from a mother. I was so impressed. The moment I was home and Mom was also home, back from work, later and later, our lawyer father banished to his floozies, I told my mom: so excited, what a novelty I’d met: a new kind of creature, a creature I loved.
My mom was scandalized. Oh, she didn’t approve at all. A mother!? with no ambition for her sons!? Horrible.
I was devastated. This woman, neighbor to John, had lifted a heavy burden from my shoulders for me that I hadn’t realized was there. In one second my mother put that burden right back.
Still, some of the young mother’s attitude rubbed off on me. It was a bit like 1949 when the family went to Princeton, cousin Tom had gotten engaged to a townie, we met the girl’s family: laborers, Italians. They were easy going, smiled a lot, loved their food, each other, sat around … played cards … lived in Princeton but didn’t go to Priceton. Oh, but they drove tractors, dug ditches! Shame, shame.
I outfoxed ’em though: I didn’t become a lawyer or a ditch digger.
Actually I did dig ditches once: for three days, working for the parks department, the Little League field need a trench to install something. I loved it. But then we went back to lawn mowing, weed whipping, painting fences …