THE PSYCHOANALYTIC STUDY OF THE CHILD
I'm thinking about my father and writing things down:
he just died, he was young.
Some people couldn't care less. One puts up a bridge
to them, they take it down: it's the Blasé Age. And others-one
more bridge to anyone for any reason is just what they want (How
died?What disease? At home?In hospital? How sad am I?How sad will
I be?). The bridge to them is iron and intact, of course:
it's the Overwrought Age.
I am an historian by profession, and I'm writing
things down. Present times is not where my expertise lies. At
any given moment it's the Zeitgeist inquiry that I live
for: What about This Age? What about That Age? Can there be a
more crucial question?
But I'm thinking about my father. Interesting: I
exhale and run a hand through my hair. I comb my hair straight
back, the way my father combed his. But my father's hair was very
dark; mine's not dark at all.
My father was young when he died, but I've got his
photographs here. So he was young, but there was a time when he
was younger still. Here's a shot he took, of my mother
and me at my camp, and we're both eating watermelon and letting
it drip, and we're wearing similar pink-frame glasses and smiling.
It's a good shot. Maybe my father had a knack for this and should
have chosen photography.
But he didn't.
I've got his photographs here. And a scuffed-up shoe
box (a coin collection). My father was young.
But there was a time when he was even younger, and
there was a day in that time: it was late summer, and I, a boy
of nine, had just returned home from camp.
But the historian rears his head! With me, as I said,
it could hardly be otherwise. And he, I am compelled to
ask (and it's a compulsion that was never my father's): What societal
questions are raised? Reminiscence may, perhaps, be appropriate,
but the proper initial inquiry addresses the larger forces: which
ones were driving humankind (when was I nine)? The inquiry might
begin with names. In my field terminology is seen as an historical
In that picture, you can see a drop of juice just
as it's coming off my mother's chin, and there's a drop on my
chin, too. That's why we're laughing.
In any case, where I had been when I was nine years
old-the term for it was sleep-away camp. Now, why
wasn't it live-away camp, which would have been more logical?
We don't yet know the answer. It may be that something was "going
on"; it was possible: other things were. We could point to
a malignant world, governed by whispered rules, whispered words
we know in retrospect only: sleep away your lives, children,
but do it within our reach; it's always-shhh-the policy of
containment that's best in the end.
But in developing this thesis, shouldn't we refuse
to feed the Monster Cynical? Let's remember that all camp
is live-away camp: after-school, day, and sleep-away-at least
once the children are on the bus. And I do remember something
relevant (remember without reminiscing): that "sleep-away"
was the dreamt-of thing, and, come one awaited summer, it came
true. The name's precise point of origin remains unknown (schoolroom?
school yard? school bus?), but clearly the lexical choice was
the children's. We, the children, were the larger force! Even
as we rejoiced the name was ours: "sleep-away camp!"
We, we in academia, are often accused of wasting
time (and of wasting away)-as we investigate the obvious.
And "sleep-away" or "live-away"-a
child's mind has no need of Zeitgeists either way,
And I was a child, nine years old.
I run my hand through my hair. I find myself feeling
urged. Shelve humankind for the moment, man. Indulge the nonhistorical
It was late summer, I was nine years old, and I had
just come home.
Where Justin had been: they called it "sleep-away
camp." When all the grown-ups at sleep-away camp were asleep,
it became the goal of the children to stay awake. In the dark,
to pass the time, they invented epithets aloud, and used them
across the spaces of blackness between and among their beds. "Ricky
Lish is a stinking Commie!" was frequent (and "Chris
Malicki is . . . !"); "No I'm not, you are!"
was frequent, too. The children loved hearing disembodied voices
in the dark. And they ate candy.
At the midpoint of every summer came Parents' Day:
two days when the children's parents were invited to come up to
Maine to visit. By late afternoon of the second day there was
a single child who remained unvisited. His name was Alan Berman,
and for twenty-four hours he had been crying. Except when he was
in bed his sobs could be heard from far away (such a private sound
through the trees, or-when Justin found himself down at the lake-across
the sand). Alan had buckteeth. He wore thick glasses. He had grotesquely
large ears which grew straight out from his head. He was uncoordinated.
When his parents did arrive, and had debarked from their sizable
car (and they seemed much older than the other parents, to the
children), Alan jumped up and down and shook his hands from his
wrists like rubber, and he made a continuous noise like a purring
moan. Most of the nearby children thought this was funny. Justin
thought this was funny, and he pointed, bringing Alan to the attention
of others who, till then, had been distracted by games.
Alan's mother wore jewelry and high heels on her
August visit to the Maine woods. And a hat shaped like a pillbox
but made of black fur. One of Justin's friends knew the hat was
Russian. He ran and got a Superman comic. In it Superman spied
on the Russians with his X-ray and telescopic vision, and on the
Russian sidewalks every Russian-the women and the men-was
wearing that hat. This left the children puzzled because the Russians
planned to bomb America, and even though in a comic book the hat
might generate a force field and confer invulnerability, it couldn't
do this "in real life." (The children liked to say "in
real life": the words embodied a recent conceptual achievement,
and they were proud.) The hat was so ugly because the Russians
were really bad people. Americans were good people, but some of
them were stupid. Since Alan's parents were very bad parents,
they had to be stupid people, and this meant that Alan's mother
couldn't be a spy because spies were smart. She was probably a
"sympathizer," Justin said (he had heard this word).
And Justin said that she probably thought that no one in Maine
would recognize her hat. Several of the children, including Justin,
bunched together and considered telling their counselors about
Alan's mother, considered advising them to notify the police in
West Baldwin Township.
Alan Berman's parents brought him a brand-new catcher's
mitt. They handed it to him and watched his response for some
seconds, then turned away. The mitt was thick. The mitt was round.
To the children it looked a lot like Alan. The mitt was very expensive,
and it was much too large for a child. It had a cup-like depression
in its center that was barely bigger than a ball. Yogi Berra,
who had joined the Yankees in 1947, used something similar. It
was a very difficult mitt to use.
Whenever the boys allowed Alan to play, they did
make him play catcher-but the reason was that there was a backstop
behind home plate.
Alan put the catcher's mitt on as soon as it was
handed to him. As he jumped up and down and moaned he waved it
wildly about as if he had already forgotten it was there, but
it was on his hand through this movement for forty-five minutes-because
that was the length of his parents' stay. His parents chatted
with other grown-ups, in the long shadows of birches and pines,
and Alan trailed behind them, wildly craving interaction, a captive
to his frenzy. When soon it was clear that his parents were leaving,
Alan began to mutter instead of moan. He muttered louder and louder.
At some point Justin and others heard his words: "Don't leave
"Don't leave me here!"-Alan began to scream.
He pronounced "leave" like "leaf." He groaned
and wept and writhed, and screamed, "Don't leave me here!"
His nose was running snot. His mother put her hand on his head.
His father called him "son." And, as his parents drove
away, he was on the ground-in the dust, with his catcher's mitt
on. He writhed on the ground, and moaned and wept, and screamed,
"Don't leave me here!"
"Don't leave me here! Don't leave me here!!
Don't leave me here, noooo!!!"
Alan beat on the ground. Then, as Justin watched,
a tall and gentle counselor stooped down. He lifted Alan up and
carried him while he thrashed and screamed. He carried him into
his bunk and laid him on his bed. He removed the catcher's mitt.
For several hours Alan thrashed, making muffled and unmuffled
sounds-more muffled each time the gentle counselor came in and
checked on him. And then Alan fell asleep.
On the way up the hill to the mess hall, that evening
with all the other children, Justin remembered being left alone
once. It was in a concrete parking lot, on a bicycle without its
That summer the first half of camp before Parents'
Day was the same as the second half after, except that after Parents'
Day the children no longer laughed among themselves at Alan Berman.
When, on a day soon after Parents' Day, Bobby Forbes, the largest
boy, began taunting Alan as he always had before, Justin stepped
in quickly and made him stop.
Note that even transported to sleep-away camp we
suffered gladly an historical insight: "Commie!" we
cried; "sympathizer," we suspected; prepared to be junior
intelligence agents, we were, every last one of us. (Is this insight
profound? I grant it: it isn't. And Alan Berman, his story, follows
hard upon it. Did I give him pride of place? unconsciously, perhaps?
To this day, it's true, I can bring on a sadness-Although, why
I would want to-)
Interesting that I remember that we children enjoyed
saying "in real life." A "conceptual achievement"?
Interesting that I used those words, whereby I sound like a psychologist,
a shrink, a shrink like my father. Although not my father:
developmental was not where his expertise lay; the man saw adults,
Yes, it is interesting. The child is father to the
man-and yet my father never kept a journal, told a story,
reminisced in any way.
In any case, it is certainly clear that there are
points to be made with reminiscence, historical ones among them,
as we've seen. Or sociohistorical; or psychosociohistorical.
Have I resisted reminiscence in the past?
Sometimes, it seems, there's no good reason to do so.
I begin puttimg these photographs away. Then I stop.
Camp and Alan Berman were in my dreams my first night
Justin felt odd in his body when he awoke.
He'd been sleeping on his side on the edge of his bed, looking
out into the center of his room. The shades were drawn and the
morning was cloudy, and when he opened his eyes the light was
dim. He thought he saw bunk bed shapes against the wall. He thought
the wall was made of pine with knots. He thought he saw rafters.
It didn't feel right that he was still in Maine. He felt as if
he couldn't move.
But pine melted to plaster. And fuzzy Maine congealed
into New York City.
Justin made his way to the bathroom, and by the time
he was there he was already forgetting his dream-but he could
feel the remnants of a sense of relief. He looked in the mirror.
-I'm glad that I'm not Alan Berman.
He stood at the mirror for a moment.
-I feel like crying for him. Am I going to?
-It would be an O.K. time to cry, if I did. (Justin's
father-who worked in a hospital and had a private practice
on Saturdays, in the living room-slept in on Sunday mornings.
Justin's mother was with relatives for the weekend.)
Justin thought himself precocious ("I'm precocious!"
"No you're not!You're big-nose-cious!" "No I'm
not, I am!"), and he thought his preference for showers
over baths was one proof. But this time he felt that slower ablutions
were right. He reached down and turned on both taps in the bathtub.
He was running a bath for himself for the very first time. He
watched the water.
The tub took a long time to fill. He felt like crying
for Alan Berman again.
Justin climbed into the tub. He began to lie down
in the water. The moment he realized the water was up to his nose
was the moment that his rump went out from under him. Then he
was saving himself and coughing up.
He let water out. As it was draining he stood in
it carefully. And he spoke to himself as his mother used to speak
to the parakeet: "Silly boy! Watch out! Silly boy!"
He settled back into much less water, and soon he
was comfortable. He closed his eyes. Soon he found himself re-living
another settling back, a recent one.
It was camp again.
On Parents' Day the kitchen staff took picnic tables
to the edge of the playing fields, and someone laid out kites
on top of them for the parents and children to fly together. While
Justin's mother had a smoke with other mothers, Justin and his
father went over there.
"You fly one and I'll fly one," said Justin's
father. He handed a green diamond kite to Justin. "They'll
look great, we can show your mother."
It was a command. His father was certain that two
kites was best. Justin wanted to refuse.
-What if I can't do it? Show me, Dad. Show me how.
But Justin wanted his father to have a good day.
And from the look on his father's face-the look that's on the
face of the child who, on the first day of camp, feels set free-it
seemed that if he, his father, got to see his own kite aloft soon,
and see it before too long next to others aloft, and see it all
seen by a special person who hadn't stayed away for too many smokes
meanwhile, then he would definitely have that thing: a good day.
It was gusty, and every time Justin chased a gust
he lost his concentration, and then he forgot to give his kite
more string. And when he remembered to give his kite more string,
he forgot to keep running. And sometimes he let his kite arm shoot
up as if he were supposed to get airborne, too. He couldn't
fly his kite.
His father had his kite up in no time, and
he was making it bounce in the sky, making it rise all the while,
looking up there, and down to his hands, and looking up there
and making it bounce.
Justin drifted farther and farther from his father,
across the fields. There was an archery pit out there, and soon
Justin found himself near it. Parallel to the pit, just beyond
its far side, there were several spruce trees, in a careful row
as if they might come to life for an animated film. Justin held
a corner of his diamond kite between his thumb and fingers. He
stepped down into the sawdust, went through it with the tail of
his kite dragging and sawdust pushed from his sneakers in two
forward wakes. He passed the padded targets, which were as high
as himself, without taking in the bright rings. He left the pit
and sat down against one of the spruce trees with the kite.
He settled back. He closed his eyes. Soon he was
When he opened his eyes there were other kites in
the sky above child-parent pairs, and, looking up at their colors
and movements, he began to feel better.
Then he looked across at the figure of his father,
and his father was waving to him. At the same time his father
continued to take lateral steps and make adjustments with his
kite-string, and, as he did, parts of him were obscured behind
one of the targets.
And then Justin heard his father yelling into the
wind. But he couldn't hear words. His father continued yelling,
and Justin continued unable to understand.
If the sky hadn't been so cloudless, and the day
hadn't been so warm, Justin would have begun to cry.
"You saw me waving, Justin," his
father said later. "Why didn't you come over?" his father
said later. "I was trying to get you to come over and help
me fly mine," his father said later. "I guess
you didn't want my help," his father said, looking sad.
And Justin didn't answer. He hadn't been able to
make out his father's words-but it wouldn't have been hard to
decipher his gestures. Justin knew that it was possible that he
simply hadn't been able to see what he hadn't expected to happen:
his father beckoning. He was angry at himself, but he was angrier
at his father.
-You should have come to me.
-Why didn't you come to me?
-And I didn't make you sad, you made
you sad. You should have come to me.
In the tub, Justin opened his eyes.
Of course something he would never do-in front
of his father or anyone else-was fall on the ground and writhe.
I know I knew that my father wanted to help me fly
my kite. And I know I knew it was the thought that counted.
But it wasn't the thought that could fly.
It's vivid, the length of that bathtub daydream.
My eyes were closed for a very long time. I was remembering all
the while, and loving the water. On the lake at camp there were
always wavelets (at least) in the shallow water; you could
never sit perfectly still, never as if you were in a bathtub.
What you could do was lean back on the lemon line, close
your eyes, and let the voices of the shouting kids blend.
What need of "the larger forces" has a
And I'm a new child, in a sense: the child
of a newly dead man. With boxes of photographs here, and a scuffed-up
shoe box of coins, it feels, now, as if smaller forces might bind
us, my father and me. There is, for instance, a particular coin.
It's a quarter, a 1924-D.
This date, 1924, has its historical significance,
of course. Why, at the height of the Roaring Twenties, was there
a silver shortage, and therefore a shortage of mintings? Had "the
war to end all wars" depleted supplies? I could expound upon
this. The question was fascinating to me-once.
Perhaps there's an addictive element in the process
In this disorganized shoebox collection it's
the only coin I remember, the 1924-D. The day I keep going back
to, the day after my return from camp, is also the day my father
Justin was still in the tub-he felt as if he'd been
in there forever-when he heard his father's voice at the bathroom
"I'm gonna come in and shave, O.K.?" said
The voice had an echo: the bathroom was tile.
One half of the shower curtain was bunched between
the bathtub and the sink. When his father switched the light on,
it let Justin into a secure umbra. It was like the virtual chamber
the painter is in, before his canvas.
And Justin thought of saying, "OK, long as you
promise to let me not say anything, or if you promise to talk
about everybody else but not me."
"OK," said Justin.
Justin's father had just finished putting on all
his shaving cream and had just begun to shave when he said, "So
how do you feel about camp being over?" stroking with the
razor upward along his neck.
"I don't know," said Justin, and then he
let himself slide down under the water. When Justin surfaced his
father's face was turned toward the tub and aimed at him. It was
clownish with shaving cream from the cheekbones down, but had
the disapproving look above of a knot in the brow and narrowed
strong eyes, eyes below strong black hair and above a powerful
nose. A face that in an instant could weaken and sadden. Justin
took the soap and washed himself although he'd washed himself
When Justin's father's brow had slackened, and the
shaving-cream part of his face had slackened, too, he raised his
razor. "So," he said. Then he turned back into the mirror,
saying, "You and I are looking through quarters today."
Which was true, and Justin had forgotten.
When the two of them were on the way from the bathroom
to the living room, his father said, "Let's do it on the
couch"- which was long and white and rough-textured and in
front of two windows. And his father said, "I'll go get them."
Justin went into the living room alone. The curtains
were open, and he could see how bright the day was.
-It would be great if we could just go to Central
Park, with my bat and ball.
Fungoing flies was something his father did very
well for Justin. He could hit the ball high enough for Justin
to run to it, and far enough for Justin to feel just like an outfielder.
And with every shot off the bat there was a look of satisfaction
on his father's face. But maybe his father had decided it was
too humid to play. Justin remembered the day before, his parents
meeting him at Pennsylvania Station, his mother getting her own
train later. His father kept sweating and wiping it off, and he
looked anguished about it.
Justin got a kick out of sweating. The other kids
tried to make fun of him, but he'd stand with his arms outstretched
and pant theatrically and theatrically wipe his forehead with
the sides of two fingers going in opposite directions.
The apartment's only air conditioner was in one of
the windows behind the white couch. Justin's father came in with
a smallish white box held against himself down at hip level. He
turned the air conditioner on to "low."
Justin's father sat down on the couch, leaving some
space between them. Then he unpacked the white box, putting forty
dark red rolls of quarters on white, near his knee. Justin's eyes
widened as he calculated one thousand dollars. His father smiled
and banged him on the shoulder.
"It's going right back to the bank," his
father said. "We're not rich, bud."
They looked through four thousand quarters for something
valuable, throwing the culls into a growing, swimming mass (which
soiled the couch a pencil-lead gray). Whenever there was a question
about value his father consulted The Red Book Bible of Coins,
a book he had given to Justin for a birthday (a book which Justin
hadn't been able to find that morning-but his father had). There
was a moment, with quarters and quarters between them, and his
father saying nothing, when Justin remembered the evening when
his father was the happiest he had ever seen him. His father had
come home and had shown him a coin that a teller had given him
in change. It was a Standing Liberty half-dollar, which they didn't
even make anymore. It was a 1916-S, which they hadn't made many
of. How a teller could have put it right in his hand: his father,
beaming, had wanted to know. It wasn't in great condition, but
The Red Book said it was worth twenty dollars.
"Right in my hand!" Justin's father kept
The little door on the air conditioner had begun
to vibrate and buzz.
Justin was looking out the window onto the second
half of the afternoon. His vision was hazy, but he saw himself:
circling under a high fly ball.
Justin was thirsty; he had found nothing. For over
an hour and a half his father had hardly looked up from the couch.
He had found one quarter that was worth two dollars-an hour ago.
Suddenly Justin's father began shouting: "Well,
I'll be! Well, I'll be! Buddy, look at this!"
It was a 1924-D.
"It's not a 1924-S, but it sure is close, it's
goddamn close! How d'ya like that!"
Justin smiled. His father banged him on the shoulder.
The Red Book Bible of Coins
said forty dollars.
"Great! Great!" his father said.
The "Great" Depression: my father was a
child of it, of course. Humankind's second "great" twentieth-century
scourge: my father of coins and perspiration was a child of it.
I could expound on the Great Depression. I was always
told that my monographs on it were of high academic quality (the
relationship between its macro and its microeconomics).
The Depression was one of my natural subjects-a while ago.
I could resurrect my work-
But instead, now, I'll do what I ought: let the "larger"
inquiry hang fire; I'll tell you one person's story. (In
fact, I'm hardly capable of macro, really. That work should rest
My father: bang your son on the shoulder and make
certain he knows: "We're not rich." And we weren't
rich. Not a Park Avenue shrink, my father.
Yes, my father had a story-not that he ever told
it. I wonder if he might have: he died young.
My father had a story and this is part of it: something
happened following which the flame of ambition was lowered. And
not raised again. He never talked to me about his work, so it's
a story that he never told. Once he was dead my mother told it.
He worked in a Catholic hospital, Justin's father.
There were very few non-Catholics there. There his most difficult
patient was a nun. She had incessant sexual fantasies which tortured
her incessantly. She had sought help from clergy and had received...essentially
nothing. Justin's mother said that Justin's father had told her
that the nun was very short and not old. Several times a week
when they met, in Justin's father's hospital office (she in her
light blue "working" habit; her hands, at the beginning,
folded), he nodded at her words and said very little and, like
any adult in the fifties, he smoked (the glass on a Holocaust
woodcut above his chair was covered with tar-on its inside
surface, too). Nod and say nothing-this was how Justin's father
had been taught to work. And he was still young himself, of course.
One day the nun was so distraught that she was distraught
for the entire hour. Justin's father must have been lost as he
stiffened and tried to maintain a therapist's demeanor. But he
did promise to call her that night. When he did he was in a hurry
and it was raining and he used a phone booth. The nun was still
distraught. Justin's father tried to be firm, through the rain
and the bad connection, then he went on to his poker game. He
left his umbrella in the booth and came home with his clothing
and his thick hair wet. And on that night the nun killed herself.
Over the following weeks, Justin's mother said, several
of Justin's father's colleagues asked him (usually one-on-one
in an empty corridor) whether he knew what was meant by the suicide
of a nun, and he said that he knew. He did not let his response
to the question become a discussion-with any of them.
Father-figure, daughter-figure: she was his child.
Justin at the time was a tot and just learning to speak. Of course
he was never told that he had had a kind-of-sister; he only knew
that for over twenty years there was guilt in the air. The secular
gods of the age were Sigmund Freud and Joe McCarthy (abundant
wrathfulness). Justin's father was never able to regain his Freudian
faith, and his overarching American faith disappeared. These were
the only faiths he had had and he lost them.
Yes, there was some kind of faith in the act of bringing
home four thousand quarters. But what was it? Faith in odds?
Justin saw that the 1924-D just lit up his father's
eyes, and he saw his father's heavy eyebrows dancing a heavy little
dance. And his father, in small amazement, ran a hand through
his hair, which was combed straight back. The coin was still in
his hand, and he put it down on a small lacquered table. Then
he went to the bathroom, leaving Justin alone on the couch.
Justin looked out the window. He felt he was looking
at an afternoon that was burning. Suddenly, above the golden mess
of buildings, in the vague flames in the sky, there began appearing
a single image from the dream he had had that morning, golden
because it couldn't have been otherwise. It was a face. It was
the face of Alan Berman, and Justin stood up as fast as he could-to
change the world.
Justin went into the kitchen, quietly but quickly.
He opened the refrigerator, took three deep gulps from an orangejuice
bottle, wiped his mouth on his shirt and then went back to the
living room, fast. The 1924-D was there on the table. Justin put
it in his hand. Then to avoid the window he turned to the wall.
There was a floor-to-ceiling bookcase there. Along two shelves
there was a set of books: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child.
In addition to the title there was a year on the spine of each
volume. Justin didn't feel like counting them. Their jackets were
perfectly intact. Each one was a different muddy pastel color.
Each one looked unopened, unread.
Justin lifted the quarter in his hand, the 1924-D,
and pretended he was at a vending machine, then he pretended,
without letting it go, to put his quarter in the slot. Then he
pushed a button in the air, and he followed one of the volumes
of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child as it didn't tumble
from the shelf and didn't make a noise and as it didn't hit the
ground. Then he kicked the place where the book was not on the
floor as hard as he could. This rid the earth of the book forever.
Once Justin rid the earth of them all, his father
could never read them. Then, in his understanding of his
son, he could never claim additional authority for . . . for .
. . for a word Justin hadn't yet learned: infallibility.
Justin vended a second volume, kicking it even harder
than the first one at the place where it didn't land. He was about
to vend and annihilate another, when his father returned. The
1924-D was in the air, having just acted like a coin pushed through
a slot, and Justin was pushing the non-machine's non-button.
His father saw, drew breath through pursed lips with
some drama and sound, and said, "Oooh, yeah, it would
work like a plain old quarter for a soda. Smart aleck." Then
he banged Justin on the shoulder and said, "If you're as
thirsty as I am-why don't we go out and split one, a soda?"
Justin said, "OK," quietly.
"Better yet, let's get our own, I'm thirsty
As they were exiting the apartment, Justin's father
turned to Justin and said, "Hey, let me have that. No way
are we taking it outside." And he lay the coin on a telephone
book on a chair. Then he looked down at the coin, and then at
Justin, and then he said, "Isn't that something, huh?
Isn't it?" And he banged Justin on the shoulder.
How was my father to know that I had already slaked
my own thirst? I could have told him I had taken some juice
(and, unlike my mother, he didn't give a damn if I drank from
the bottle). But I withheld the information. And now I saw no
reason to go outside; and I was afraid of going out there.
I was terrified of another dream-return vision in the sunshine:
a little boy's face. But I could see in my father's face-an
innocent opening up of that face to possibility, done with an
upward slide of the brow, along with the smallest possible smile
(his most endearing one)-that he wanted at least an excellent
end to what had been a "great" afternoon; I could see
that it would help him retain his happiness for a bit, if he and
his boy went out for sodas.
(Was it an enormous perception? I can't claim
We went outside. The exertion required to cover my
fear made me cranky (I was nine years old), and my father's face
as he held my hand did a sort of cave-in as he saddened.
My father just died. He was young. That makes me
A foolish designation, perhaps: young historian.
Historians make predictions, and I've just made one.
Actually, it's merely a vision. There's a crucial question inside
it, true; nevertheless it's just a vision. Nothing more than a
Every so often, I find myself just standing in front
of books (suffering, in all likelihood, a lack of professional
inspiration), and I think I've wanted one book in particular,
but now I've forgotten which. So I'm standing in front of some
wall of books, and I'm staring right through and beyond that wall,
and at the center of my stupor is a thought that repeats and repeats:
I didn't know you well,
but now I'll always know you
better than you knew me,
and what's that worth?
I'll always know you better
than you knew me.
And what's that
And I'm wondering if maybe, every so often, Alan
Berman (his expensive catcher's mitt in a box in a closet) doesn't
stand somewhere in a stupor of his own and ask the same damn thing.