So, I have this early childhood memory that comes to me every so often.
It was summertime. The sun was setting and my bedtime was around the corner. I tried to argue my case about staying up later, but my case was denied.
Instead, I took the trade and I was allowed to drink iced tea for the first time.
The brand was 4C Lemon Iced Tea
(Isn’t it funny the things we remember?)
I recall lying in my twin-sized bed with Popeye sheets and pillow cases beneath a maroon colored blanket. I remember looking at the old brown and gray air-conditioner, which hung in my bedroom window. The room slowly dimmed with the sunset, and everything was good.
I was too young to know about loss. I was too young to understand insecurity or become worried with doubt. At that age, everything was possible. My worst fear was the Feetie Monsters underneath my bed. And in order to keep my feet away from the monsters, I would tuck the covers beneath my feet. In fact, I still sleep with the covers wrapped around my feet to this day.
My mother has a few memories of her own….
We used to live in a duplex apartment building before moving east to the suburbs of Long Island. My bedroom was small. I remember blue walls and a white crib. I remember a brown table with green plates in the dining room, and I remember the brown rug, which covered much of the apartment.
One day, my mother left me for no more than two minutes.
(That was her first mistake.)
I was riding my tricycle around my room, and then I moved into the hallway. I am told I was wearing a little cowboy hat and I was pretending to be a cowboy.
Moving down the hallway, I reached the top of the steps. The staircase was steep, but I did not stop. This is when my mother shouted out, but it was too late. I already made the commitment to move forward and head down the steps on my tricycle.
At the bottom of the steps was the bathroom. The bathroom door was opened, and after bouncing perfectly down the steps, I flew into the bathroom with my front tire hitting into the bathtub, causing me to end over, and land inside the tub.
Running in, my mother saw me.
I was sitting in the bathtub with a shocked look on my face. I was not crying. My mother said she was unsure if I was more scared than hurt…..but she never let me take my tricycle upstairs again.
My mother laughs about this now. I supposed she laughed then too, but not until much later. She said, “You almost gave me a heart attack.”
She laughs about the stories I hardly remember, like the time she brought me into a country club and I was walking behind my mother and her friend. They were walking too quickly for me, and while straggling behind, I shouted, “Hey fuckos….wait for me!”
Neither my mother nor her friend turned around.
They just kept walking as if I were someone else’s kid.
They say I had an imaginary friend when I was a small boy. His name was Abbie.
Whenever I was in trouble I would say, “I didn’t do it.”
And when my mother or father would ask, “Then who did it?”
I would say, “Abbie did it.”
This became somewhat of a popular joke
One day, my mother and father had company at the apartment. One of their closest friends asked, “Hey Benjy, where’s Abbie?”
“He’s not here,” I said.
“No,” I told them. “He’s gone.”
“Well where did he go?”
“I killed him…”
Man….I was an interesting kid.