Monday, June 24, 2013

Losing My Marbles

As a kid, my desire to write corresponds very closely with the year I lost my marbles.  This was circa 1972, when we used to play marbles in the yard--not the kind of traditional marbles with the circle and the aggies and the shooters--but mumbly-peg marbles where we tossed our "cat's eyes" and "beanies" and "milk glass" from a standing position.  We played for "keeps", and over one summer I amassed a veritable pot of decorative glass and steel marbles which I collected in a pottery urn.

All of my prizes I kept in a small leather pouch that was cinched at the top with a shoestring.

Later that summer, when the pouch disappeared, I began writing to pass the time.  Summers were long then (with school letting out around Memorial Day and not beginning until after Labor Day).  A kid could get lost in those three months if he didn't have a plan for baseball, or bicycles, or fighting in the alley between the drugstore and the five-n-dime. 

Me?  I began writing my own magazines after I lost my marbles, and I learned that being a writer requires an even tougher disposition--especially since writing is a solitary pursuit and feedback, even from one's parents, is sporadic and fleeting. 

Me:  Mom, look at this book I wrote! 
Mom:  That's nice, honey.  Now why don't you go outside and push mow our five-and-a-half acre yard or weed the poison ivy that's growing up the gutters?

Me:  Okay.  And after that, can I show you some of the stories I've written?
Dad:  Be glad to read 'em, pal . . . but first, take these trimmers and get to work on the hedges.  Just don't cut off your pecker.  Don't want any accidents out there!

Me:  Sure.  And how about I also show you some of these poems which bear a remarkable resemblance to the work of Robert Frost or Edna St. Vincent Milay?
Mom:  No problem.  But first I need you to hop on your bicycle and peddle down to the IGA and buy a quart of ice cream.  Hurry back.  If I see any melting it's gonna be your hide, mister.

Me:  Then will you read my four-thousand word essay about the greatest horror movies of all-time?
Dad:  Horror?  There's nothing more horrible than losing your pecker.  Have you scythed that acre of sticker bushes yet? 

It's no wonder I kept writing.  Words have saved me from a life of manual labor, but I'm still looking for that leather pouch.    

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