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  • I remember when I wandered into my parents’ bedroom, and checking around the items on the dresser, found that bottle of perfume that smelled so good. I remember how it burned the hell out of my mouth and my throat when I tried drinking. I remember screaming my head off, thinking I was going to die.

    I remember when I started going over to the Tepe’s house across the street, like I had been doing for years since we moved into the neighborhood, and asking for Clare instead of Jack. I remember sitting on the porch swing with Clare on warm summer evenings, the porch with the old-style canvass awnings that all the porches on our street had, just talking, but wanting to do more.

    I remember delivering newspapers in the early morning, well before dawn, walking past Depaul Institute for the Deaf, smelling the bacon cooking somewhere in their kitchens, wishing I could have some right then.

    I remember playing little league baseball with a biased umpire. The time we pulled off a triple play on a groundball and the umpire called all of the runners safe. I remember the outrage at the injustice. I remember Billy’s father saying, “Come on boys, let’s go get some ice cream” as we left the field in protest, forfeiting the game. “There are some things in life more important than winning or losing – ice cream is one of them”, he told us. I never forgot.

    I remember the first time my heart got broken in two, the utter devestation I felt in the moment that I knew, the difficutly catching my breath, the complete unfairness of life coming down around my head in that single, tragic moment, wandering how I would possibly manage to go on.

    I remember that first time I saw the ocean, at Atlantic City, when the Boardwalk was “The Boardwalk”, the Steel Pier, the person sitting on the platform hundreds of feet up who had been there for many days, I remember the waves crashing, learning to body surf those waves, I remember “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” and “Heat Wave” playing on the radio, summer’s end was right around the corner, Labor Day looming on Monday, I remember how bittersweet it all was. I remember it was 1964, and we were picking my brother Chris up from his summer job in Atlantic City to take him back home to Pittsburgh.

    I remember being the king of Forbes Field when I was 10. I knew everything about that Ball Park, and a ballgame did not involve sitting in my seat for 9 innings, watching and keeping score of the game. I would move all over that park, and keep score. A dollar to get into the left field bleachers. Talk to the pitchers in the visitors Bullpen out there. They would always talk to you. Second inning, wait for the usher to leave his post, and climb up the rain spout into the third base box seats. Sit behind the visitors dugout. Talk to the players when they came over to get a drink of water from the cooler beside the dugout. 3rd inning. Wandering around behind the grandstand, waiting until the guard behind the announcer’s booth left his post, stealthily making my way up the metal stairway, across the catwalk, and through the door into the booth. And so on. After the game, I might sneak through the “No Admittance” door that led to the dirt tunnel under the stands, that snaked around to the players’s clubhouses. Sometimes I would stay in the tunnel and just listen to the players talking, sometimes I would sneak into the clubhouse and chat them up, until I got thrown out. I always got thrown out. I always went back.

    I remember the smell of fresh doughnuts baking as I walked down Brookline Boulevard past Kribel’s Bakery, making my mouth water, making the money in my pocket burn a hole, and always turning into the bakery to buy a big, glazed doughnut. I remember who thrilled I was when, at age 9, Jake Kribel talked his mom into letting me work there with them. I ate a lot of doughnuts, then!

    I remember the first time I was honest with the priest in confession about masturbation, and how I came away feeling like I had just committed a mortal sin, based on his overreaction. I remember vowing never to be honest with the priest in confession again. I always kept it vague after that.

    I remember when my brother Chris sat me down on the second floor of the old house on Midland Street, and told me the truth about Santa Clause. I refused to believe it. I kept throwing up items of proof that he existed. Chris had an explanation for all of them. When I finally conceded that maybe there wasn’t really a Santa Clause, I ended the conversation with, “But, there still is the Easter Bunny!”
    (I secretly still do believe in Santa Clause)

    I remember the first time I dreamed about something that happened later on. I remember how different that dream felt from “regular” dreams.
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