In nineteen seventy-five I was tall, awkward and wary of people. I haven’t changed at all.
The garbage men called me son. Other children teased me mercilessly. Anti-bullying laws did not exist. No Internet– no cell phones. People fried everything in a pound of butter. KFC was good. Ordering cable gave you ten extra channels. Kids played outside. Nothing was open for business on Sunday– unless you count Church. Squirming through one hour of Latin Mass in the clumpy, pinching tight shoes my mother insisted on buying.
All of this paled to the question. The feared, dreaded hated question adults felt compelled to ask children.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I was eight. I didn’t have it mapped out yet. I gave a stock answer. Ballerina, gymnast, teacher. It didn’t matter how I answered. Only that I answered appropriately. Every response was met with an “oh well that’s lovely dear“. Each adult questioner was given a different answer. I doubt they compared notes. I couldn’t give my real answer for fear of unbridled ridicule.
I wanted to be Stevie Nicks.