… I thought life was harder than it really needed to be.

… I thought garbage men had it easy. I figured they only worked twice a week because we only had our garbage picked up on Mondays and Thursdays; little did I know, the other days of the week, they were in other neighborhoods, picking up other people’s old refrigerators, ruined couch cushions, and banana peels.

… we didn’t have any color televisions in my house because they cost “too much friggin’ damn money.”

… my father said I had to eat dirt if I didn’t eat my vegetables. I ate dirt every night until Mommy complained she didn’t have any soil left for her potted plants.

… I dented my little red wagon when I crashed into Mr. Stevenson’s mailbox; to this day, the “lil' bastard” has not been found.

… my youngest sister Kate treated me like her hero.

… I cried a lot.

… I thought human beings controlled the traffic lights. I thought there were little, tiny cameras mounted to each traffic light and in some huge, office building downtown, people sat in front of little video screens deciding who to let in and when, while drinking their cups of coffee. My brother thought something a little different: he thought there were midgets inside the traffic poles. He was stupid.

… my father took me to the track and didn’t say a single word to me the entire time.

… I had a crush on a red-headed girl.

… my older brother Eric kept four separate hamsters named Jovi, Axl, Duff, and Bon in the garage, secretly, that all lasted a week or so before succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning.

… I swallowed a pirate Lego man with a brown beard painted on his yellow face.

… my mom put notes in my lunchbox that said things like, “I love you,” “You’re a good son,” “You’re the best,” and “You are a good boy.”

… my father was always falling asleep on the couch.

… I was scared of monsters under the bed.

… I thought that when I looked into a bathroom mirror at school, I was looking into a video camera and another man was looking at me on a video screen in a big room with lots of other video screens.

… I left my favorite red jacket on the bus after coming home from school and my father grounded me for four weeks. He also made me mow the lawn for the rest of the year (about seven months) even though I was six years old. When I lost the new jacket, he smacked me across the face and told me he wasn’t going to give me any more money until I learned the value of it.

… I liked Flintstones vitamins.

… my younger sister Debbie liked it when I gave her noogies. I did not like it when Eric gave them to me.

… I went camping in the woods with Eric once a month.

… I fantasized about one day getting the chance to move in with Bert and Ernie. I cried the day my father told me they were just puppets.

… Kate begged me to play Chutes and Ladders with her all the time.

… I was scared to lie to my teachers when I didn’t do my homework.

… I cried when a bird crashed into a window on our porch and died. I spent three hours watching him struggle to try and get back up again; Eric took a picture. Mom yelled at him and hugged me.

… I felt like people were always looking at me and making fun of me. Whether it was my big black glasses, my pimples, or the scar just below my chin, I knew people thought there was something wrong with me.

… I liked peanut butter on toast.

… I bit my fingernails twice a day. My father smacked me on the knuckles every time.

… I liked cherry-flavored soda.

… teachers at my school thought I was very well behaved.

… my father thought they were too lenient.

… my mom read me a different Berenstain Bears book every night. One night, Sister would be scared about going to the doctor’s office. Another night, Brother would be having nightmares. By the end of the week, Papa had taught them the value of saving money and Mama taught them about the joy of giving.

… I dreamed about becoming a movie director.

… I also dreamed about becoming a lawyer.

… I even dreamed about becoming a taxi driver. My father said that job was more likely.

… Kate liked it when I called her Kat.

… my mom said I would grow up and marry a nice girl with a big smile.

… Eric and I made home movies with our father’s 8mm.

… Debbie would sneak into my bed to hide whenever my father was yelling.

… I used to lick all the icing off cupcakes before eating them.

… I used to try to make anagrams out of road signs when we went on family trips to the beach twice a year.

… my mom called me Mikey.

… I knew that I wanted to name my first daughter Annie. In my world, I figured I would always have a least one daughter.

… I pulled my pants down for the little girl who lived across the street from us. She giggled and pulled hers down too. Then we both laughed and went back inside after recess.

… my father used to let me pick up the beer cans he threw at the TV.

… I liked butterscotch ice cream.

… Mommy cried a lot.

… I was scared to go in telephone booths because I thought I might get stuck.

… Kate cried when I cut all the hair off her Barbie dolls with plastic scissors I snagged from her Li’l Miss Sewing kit.

… I thought Dracula was real.

… Eric would punch me in the shoulder every other day because he wanted me to build up strength there so one day, I could “beat the living crap-ola outta some wise-ass fourth grader.”

… Kate used to sit on my lap while I read my comic books.

… red was my favorite color.

… my father used to beat Mommy every time his casserole was too cold, his beer was too warm, and her ass was “too goddamn big.”

Copyright © Alan M. Danzis 2004. Title graphic: "Kid's Blue Shorts" Copyright © The Summerset Review 2004.