I was born in Mexico in 1966 while my parents were visiting my grandparents. It was the first time my parents had been back since they had emigrated to America.
Even though I weighed upwards of 12 lbs when I was born, it was a relatively simple birth from all accounts. It would be the last time anything that involved me would be described as simple according to my father. Of course, you can’t really rely on my father’s testimony as he once told my brothers a story about how he had walked to the United States from Mexico City in just over a day, fighting bandits, corrupt Federales and two vacationing starlets who wanted him to marry them.
At the age of three, I began reading. First it was just the big words I could see around me. I believe my first word was Budweiser. Shortly thereafter, my father was asked to move his collection of beer cans to the garage. I think my love of reading was a defense mechanism. I wasn’t particularly fond of people. They spoke too much, thought too slow and more importantly, they thought there was something wrong with me. It took years for those people to figure it out… though I can understand the confusion. It can be a bit disconcerting when the realization that a child is out thinking you comes along.
I began school early. I was just four when I was assigned to Mrs. Donohue’s kindergarten class. Mrs. Donohue was a little person. Of course I mean to say that she was a midget but most midgets, Mrs. Donohue being among them, don’t like the word midget preferring the more socially acceptable label, “Little Person.” She was just over two feet tall and at 3 feet, four inches, I thought it was great that I was taller than my teacher. My glee may have angered the gods because I wouldn’t grow much for the next 13 years.
Mrs. Donohue was the first to discover my love of the written word because I would often skip other activities, including our daily nap time, to cop a few minutes with Dick & Jane. She did her best to focus that energy into finger painting, lego construction and general playground chaos. She was relatively unsuccessful unless she called for a game of dodgeball or kickball. Only those two pursuits could tear me away from reading. By the end of my first year, I had read all the books in the class and had begun sneaking over to the first grade classroom to raid their book case.
First grade began with a glimpse of something that would trouble me for the rest of my life. A girl in my class, Justine Harris, who, though she claimed to like me, kicked me in the shins each time she saw me. It wouldn’t be too bad if I had been allowed to smack her back, but of course my father taught me that I should never hit girls. It was tough resisting the urge to pull back my hand and even the score, but I did it and I’m proud to say that I have yet to raise a hand against the fairer sex… even when anyone would agree they had it coming.
Anyway, first grade was a vacation to life at home around this time. My mother began to experience, what would many years later be labeled Post Partum Depression. After the birth of my baby brother she kind of tuned out. Unlike modern mothers who are given various psychadelic remedies to this accursed malady, my mother found solace in the idea that she had two older children who would make suitable aggression therapy tools… you know, just to get it out of her system.
To be continued…