Snippet: The Inner Child (playing with autobiographical infomation)
Back when I went to country school (and we didn’t have running water, and we did have outhouses), I idolized one of the boys at school, Mr. K. I thought our love was meant to be, since if I married him, my initials wouldn’t change. I would be Mrs. K. We would be Mr. and Mrs. K. He was an older man, in fifth grade, but that only added to his allure.
I would have fourteen little K children. I would keep his house. It would have been heaven.
But for Mr. K’s younger brother, also named Mr. K. The bully K.
The bully K was a terrible, terrible man. He had an evil laugh and a henchman named Jason. He was in the fourth grade, and he liked to catch flies and stick them down people’s pants. He picked on everybody smaller than he was. He was always trying to break or steal my glasses. He tripped me whenever I had a chance. He made fun of me for playing make-believe. He was always trying to burst my bubble: what’s more cruel than bursting a poor, defenseless little seven-year old’s bubble?
That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.
That year, during Christmas vacation, it snowed. It was so deep we couldn’t see the van when we went outside in the morning! Dad was so careful digging it out that the sides of the snowbank looked like frosting on the side of a cake. We dug tunnels in the back yard, tunnels you could stand up inside. We–and this should say it all–went sledding down the big hills. Every day was a wonder. You could tell where my brother and I were on the farm by following the trail of little footprints and listening for the sound of Christmas carols (“We three kings of Orient are/ tried to smoke a pale green cigar/ it was loaded it explooooooooded/BAM! Hahahahaha’). Or else just yell “Who’s ready for some hot chocolate?” and wait for two snow suits with snot dripping down the front to come scrambling for the back door.
There was so much snow, going back to school wasn’t too bad at all. We built a snow fort.
And then we built a fort on top of that.
And then we dug a fort underneath the whole thing. A three-story snow fort.
It was the best snow I’ve ever seen, and the best winter (as such) that I’ve ever had.
Except for the bully K.
His big thing that year was spitting. I can’t tell you how many times he spit on little kids that winter. It was so cold the loogies would freeze right on you, unless it was on your face, and then it would drip into your scarf or your ski mask and freeze there, right on the edge of it, right where it would rub on your face.
I know this now, but I didn’t know it then: no matter who you become, you never stop carrying around the memories you have of the person you used to be. The bully K, here’s what he’s carrying around: a picture of a nine-year old who spit loogies onto the backs of even littler kids’ coats, a jerk whose friends were happier when he wasn’t around, a guy who never got along with girls. Boy, those were the days, weren’t they, bully K? Where are you now? Are you someone a little kid would admire?
You know what I’m carrying around?
It was recess. Everybody was playing at the fort. K the older threw a snowball at me, not hard, and I tackled his legs and knocked him down. I ran away, laughing, and he couldn’t catch me because I was too fast around that slippery snow. Then I started thinking: if I could knock down K the older (no disrespect intended), I could knock down his younger brother too.
Justice! Revenge! The admiration of my peers (I was the only kid in my grade–nevermind)! The worship of the kindergarteners! The respect of…the fifth graders.
Recess was nearly over, but it didn’t matter. I found him. He was throwing–whipping–snowballs at the kindgergarteners. My little brother was in kindergarten. For a single moment, I had no fear. I couldn’t fail. It was fate. It was…destiny! Oh, after I knocked him down, he’d spit on me, but it would be worth it.
So I went for his legs…
I didn’t knock him down. He spit on me, everybody laughed at me, even the fifth graders, and the bell rang. It was so lame.
But when you think about it, not a bad thing to carry around at all.