Friday, January 13th, 2017 – 2:05 am
I first unearthed my compulsion to artistry and authoring at the amorous and awful age of six.
A few doors down lived the prettiest five year old girl in the whole Mare Island Naval base apartment building. I didn’t let the age difference bug me too much, but sometimes fondly called her “Kid” to remind her the many more roads I’d hewn.
She was Filipino and laughed at my jokes and I thought I was in love and probably was. Every Sunday, their food was the best food in the world and maybe even my whole neighborhood and I trusted the way to a man’s hard earned meal is through his woman.
At night, my brain refused to obey arbitrary, man made systems of bedtimes and adults being in charge, so I spent it planning and scheming and plotting and scripting. I had an admittedly ambitious plan for gaining the glory, getting the girl and grabbing the grub.
In the first story (which I wrote, starred in and directed) I pushed her out of the way of an oncoming car or bus and she immediately devoted to me her heart and cuisine. As one would expect her to do as a courtesy for lifesaving, if not already owed to me by law. Fair is fair, fairest maiden.
In another story, I pushed her out of the way of an oncoming boulder. Again,she avowed fealty and feeding of me for all time and memorial. I admit the sequel was a little derivative of my original night’s tale, fancy art critic.
The next morning I saw her and poured out my heart and explained my exhaustive work thence penned. I assured her that love and bravery and food were all related and if she needed saving, I would be her man in training. She said I was silly and my eyes were pretty, but it was still a binding agreement as far as I was concerned.
Later, as Sol said so long to SoCal, the building shadows sprawled, cooled and merged into the day’s final blues and I heard the secret knock on my door.
Everything was going according to plan. We crept over and she rushed in for sustenance while I waited breathless and panicked, hiding poorly behind the bush outside her back door.
She promised to grab a plate from the buffet and return before my discovery and sure banishment from her food and life. I imagined family members of size and dangers unknown grabbing me by the collar or ear until I screamed a confession in hatching the plot for love and spring rolls. They never came, but my girl friend did.
After we finished the greasy delicacy, she asked if I would kiss her. I closed my eyes and tried. I may have kissed her face, but I don’t know for sure because I couldn’t see.
WHY WOULD THEY MAKE US CLOSE OUR EYES FOR THAT AND EXPECT ACCURACY?!
And then she slapped me.
I felt this conveyed a bit of mixed message and quietly but quickly excused myself.
The next day, I asked her if she still had feelings for me and she admitted we had maybe moved a little too fast. But now she suddenly wanted me to meet her four year old sister. My insisting “NO” seemed to help propel her rocketlike into her house to almost immediately reappear with a slightly smaller version of her adorable self.
I was known for many things in that neighborhood and startling intellect and charm were both overshadowed that day by the fact I was the fastest six year old in the world and maybe even my whole neighborhood. I was already in my house before they were halfway to my door.
I slammed it hard and loud, as what I clearly assumed was the universal code for “it was really nice meeting your sister, I’ll talk to you tomorrow”, but their pounding fists said otherwise.
My mother ran toward the noise to ascertain what fresh new hell I had hounded or harbored and so I affixed my best, “it’s really not my fault this time” face on. My splayed X shaped frame of forty pounds feebly blocked the door and enemies without, while I negotiated with mommies within.
“What is going on?!” she demanded.
“Nothing. Don’t open the door. Please God please mom it’s not my fault this time,” I offered as a means of clearing up things.
“MOVE,” the matriarch commanded.
As she slowly, barely crept open passage to 254 McDougal St., I slinked further toward the hinges to hide and hope. I was in my “stand in the corner” corner and knew the hinges well. I’d studied them more than once for hours. Once, four hours.
“Hi! Can I help you, little girls?” my mom asked.
I noticed it was with a cheery tone that sounded a lot like another mom than the one that just yelled at me to move.
“Hi! Can Patrick come outside? We want to kiss him!” asked my once friend and frankly, failed henchwoman.
My mom looked over at my terror and horror at the drama I’d wrought, having almost sold my freedom and birthright for a bowl of lentils. My oversized eyes and waving twigs for arms were the universal code for “get me out of this mess and I swear I’ll only cause trouble another twelve, horrible years”.
Mom came to my rescue.
“I’m sorry. Patrick has homework. I’ll tell him you came by, though.”
It was days, if not weeks, before I could even begin to think about giving away my heart like that again.
Undeterred in matters of love and palate, I knew even one such as I could grow and mature from what we’d all endured. I knew in my heart to not take someone’s precious feelings – even a girl’s – so lightly in the future.
I also knew now to case a place more thoroughly next time.
Sorry, but I got places to go, people to kiss and food to eat, “Kid”.