My Aunt Sarah recently came for a visit……
And she promptly messed
everything up for me, man.
It had taken twenty some years,
I had just about convinced my kids
that I had been nominated for
Sainthood as a child–
— that I was a paragon of virtue.
One weekend visit
from my sweet Aunt Sarah,
and all that hard work
has gone for naught.
And to add insult to injury,
she brought proof,
in the form of pictures and 8mm movies,
that would prevent me from ever denying:
that she knew the real skinny
about the kid version of Chris —
—– or that I even HAD an Aunt Sarah.
Who was that again?
getting back to my
(really wonderful) Aunt Sarah.
She had the
of knowing me
and being around me as a kid
…. a lot.
It’s a wonder
she hasn’t gone blind
or crazy by now.
she’s only about 7 or 8 years
older than me,
— but that’s enough —
does she have a good memory.
I’m sorry to tell you this,
I’m already pre-dis-qualified
I couldn’t have been THAT
much of a hellion, could I ?
According to my Aunt Sarah, yep.
That and two family size bags of chips.
I had a pet chicken.
I learned a lot
from the “Manchurian Candidate”
about training him.
(And Parrot Jungle for that matter)
She also regaled my kids
with stories about me:
burying her copy of
“The Seven Minutes”
in the back yard ……
stealing her “Partridge Family”
and “Bobby Sherman” albums ……
(to make fisbees out of them)
— how she remembered me:
hiding behind the French Doors
of her closet to watch her snogg
around with her boyfriend
( I got caught because I was
breathing too loud,
but my Aunt Sarah really
did have a cute figure) …..
trying to set all the bears
“free” from their enclosure
at the Philadelphia Zoo….
spitting salted pumpkin seeds at pedestrians
from the back seat window
of my Uncle’s 1964 Buick,
(and convincing her to do it, too) ….
tearing out all the pictures
of nude natives in “National Geographic”
and hiding them under my bed….
— not to mention, me :
cutting my brother’s hair (while asleep)
with a pair of pinking shears…..
using my Uncle’s lathe to create a re-usable,
retrievable slug for candy machines….
trading with other kids in the neighborhood
those mini bottles of booze
my dad would bring home from trips
in exchange for dirty playing cards….
digging holes in the local cemetery lawn
looking for ‘lost treasure’ ….
smoking up 4 of my Granddad’s cigars
and then denying it …..
a distinctively nauseated shade
of GREEN from the experience)
swiping bottles from the back of the corner store,
and returning them in the front
for the deposit to play pinball …..
telling my Great-Grandmother Ida
how lousy of a cook she was,
even for an Irish one….
taking my Great-Grandfather’s jalopy
out for a spin even though
I couldn’t reach the pedals….
( I hope he had insurance on that thing…. )
getting so sick eating illicit
(and unripe) crab-apples
from my neighbor’s tree
I had to have my stomach pumped….
creating so much acrid smoke
experimenting with my chemistry set,
they had to open every window in the house,
despite it being freezing outside……
breaking my Dad’s watch
so I could figure how much
of a lickin’ it could take,
and still keep on tickin’……….
( not much, really )
While I might,
in a rare moment of clarity,
admit that perhaps just maybe
she is remembering these things correctly,
I have to say in my own defense
that I was a spirited child.
I’d like to point out
that even though my Mom,
my brothers and my sister
had to live through much worse–
— since they had to live with me all of the time —
they have always had the good taste
to keep a lot of this stuff to themselves.
Or maybe it was fear
that kid was still around somewhere, I dunno.
( And he is, I promise. )