An American Child

February 6, 2009
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Caleb?s childhood felt of cheap blue carpeting, Chef Boyardee and the original Willy Wonka film.

It felt like the American 90?s, humidity, and the Clinton administration. It sounded like anti French-Canadian banter, Rush Limbaugh, and repudiated affairs with Monicas.

It was playground politics, recesses on asphalt, theatrical scraped knees and short cadmium yellow buses bringing in the ?out of town kids?.

His childhood was tucking the spelling list under the desk and glancing down for guidance at the baffling word ?people?, all while under the detection of the prowling Mrs. Simpson who scanned the room for academic integrity.

It was ignorant comments and petty argument over even pettier incidences of pilfered goldfish and toppled classroom plant experiments, of having to sink low into his seat upon finding the stolen articles in the accused boy?s lunch box.

Then there were the blonde boys. Translucent white hairs flopped while they ran and reflected the sun when they cried. Unlike the little foreign Vietnamese boys that now crowded his classroom to capacity, these children had the chatty blonde mothers that wore the funny tight pants to come collect their little jewels promptly at 3:10 every day. Caleb and his brothers saw a vulnerable target in these blonde boys, and found harmless amusement in pushing them into puddles on opportune rainy days, then running away quickly to avoid accusation. Quick, clean, simple, push-run.

Caleb was however, not a cruel boy, mostly curious at the working of others, to incite a stimulus then reaction from those he would otherwise never have been associated. The other boys in his class did not seem to take to his often overambitious, mildly sycophantic tendencies, and so the boy relied on these interactions in favor for repulsive friendship.

It smelled of smoky elevators to apartment 209- spending days that drifted indiscernibly into nights in that room straight ahead and to the left, captivated by Cartoon Network and the yellow haired Lizzie McGuire. It tasted of thin coffee ice cream at 3 pm, churned meticulously with a silver spoon until of a satisfactory consistency.

Caleb?s childhood was Mrs. Jones, the immodest widow to a Tuskegee Airman that never let anyone inside her apartment. He thought of how when, delivering Christmas presents, she made painstakingly sure to usher the transaction from the interior of her living quarters to the turquoise hallway. Lysol and Indian food clung to the air inside like bitter cold on the damp, and lofted out intensely and unpleasantly from her front hall into the nostrils of anyone who may have passed.

There was a stunning brunette, tall, thin ankles, that occupied 211. On rare and fortuitous occasions, he would catch her at the elevator. Like the gentlemen he was he would push the ?door open? button as if the gesture would make him somehow prominent in her mind. She thanked him with a smile, her rich amber hair shone in the yellow green lighting of the small cubby. And then when her elegant, slight husband appeared from the doorway and trotted attentively behind her to the elevator, Caleb?s daydreams dissipated into nothing more than a smoke choked elevator with synthetic wood paneling.

There was Bootsie- Barabara, reclining in that old high backed seat of hers, resting her portly frame on the chair?s arms worn of their original hideous paisley. Yes, Bootsie, this title less exhausting, simple vowels rolling off on the adolescent tongue like curse words. ?I?ll be damned, if that Ted Kennedy doesn?t know something about conspiracies than we?ll all be going to hell? She leaned somewhat out of her chair, the mouse brown hair fell in front of one eye as she pointed her cane to the none existent assembly in front of her to emphasize the point. Caleb was now used to the nightly attempts to indoctrinate him and his brothers of matters he hadn?t had the faintest idea about. The conversation descended quickly into unintelligible grumbles about invoices, fax receipts, and 401k?s.

His childhood was the business. It looked like afternoons on Capital Hill, red brick buildings cloistered close and painted bright. Like liquor stores, police sirens, coffee shops and gray-brown homeless.

Adjacent to the its entrance, tied behind a wire fence, a Doberman Pincher gnarled his teeth and barked menacingly, every time the post holding him convincingly gave way a few inches as if to tease something terrible. Since the dreadful accident, when the canine escaped and mauled Steve from accounting, this leg of the journey always terrified the boy, being of diminutive stature in comparison to the great howling beast and none to prepared if a confrontation were to arise. After safely entering through the great iron door that slid with a fury and grinding, he and his mother disappeared from the street.

Well behaved in her office, he spun away hours on the intriguing black leather chair that pivoted on its axis. It seemingly flew him into other vortexes and seconds of blurry and resplendent vision intoxicated him, until it lost acceleration. His feet once again met the floor, and he saw the same brick wall, desks, computers, and paper. His childhood was stacks of paper, white, and beaming,

It was generic brand cereal in the morning to accompany the guilt his mother served for forgetting to feed the cat and being infinitely stupid.

It was making tents out of the blankets he slept on, constructing something impressively sound, and drifting to sleep thinking of the television, crunchy carpet, and paper.





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BreakingRose said...
May 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm
The ending could have ended a little better - it was a little plot-less, but it was amazingly descriptive. I could see, smell, taste, and feel everything you described!
 
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