I was trying to think when my earliest moment of “Hey, that’s fucked up” was. I thought we’d talked about this before, and recently, but I couldn’t find it. Well, fuck, you get old and weird, you start to repeat yourself. I’m sure even Greil Marcus repeats himself, so I’m in good company.
There was a church picnic and I was five years old. My mom wanted us to wear matching sun dresses. I wanted to wear jeans. I can remember looking out my bedroom window (the house was, like so many parsonages, right next to the church) and seeing that some kids were wearing jeans and they were running around and jumping and playing baseball and wrestling and having a grand time. And some kids were wearing dresses and they were, maybe, swinging, but otherwise, they were standing near their mothers who, I imagined, were constantly admonishing them to keep clean.
“But the boys are wearing jeans!” I sobbed. “How come the boys get to wear jeans and I don’t?”
“That’s just the way it is.” Mom said.
“That’s not fair.” I shouted and then spent the picnic pouting in my room.
Ha. My poor mom. There she was climbing up television antennas to see if she could see grandparents arriving in the distance, helping me find and catalog ladybugs in her flower gardens, painting her gas tank to look like a happy caterpillar, and hanging upside down from the swing set when it suited her. And she had a job.
It was 1979. I’m not sure my mom could even have a credit card with her name on it.
And there was her five year old daughter demanding to appear before the whole congregation in pants.
I should ask her about that. I wonder if she remembers it.
Or if she remembers it the way I do. I was young. I don’t have very vivid memories of that house.
I remember laying on the kitchen floor while our dachshund Fritz licked my face. I remember my dad almost cutting his finger off and my mom freaking out while I nursed him back to semi-health. I remember playing a lot with the recalcitrant brother. I remember once seeing a little girl in a white dress sitting at the top of the stairs. But that may have been a dream. I also once dreamed that I was floating down those same stairs and when I woke up, I was really at the bottom of the stairs. For a long time, I was convinced I had floated down those stairs. Now I wonder if I sleep-walked.
And I remember one night when I was convinced that the dark was full of eyes watching me, and I was so afraid, and I ran into my parents room and said, “Mom, mom, everywhere I look there are evil witches’ eyes looking at me” and my mom said, “They aren’t evil. They’re just watching over you.”
I was a old weird kid, too, I guess.