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  • When I was about 6 years old, my sister, mom & I lived in an upstairs apartment. Below us was the owner of the house, Mrs. Livingston, and her twin sons, Stanley & Joel.

    They were just about my age. They had a red convertible metal car just our size that you could drive on the sidewalk. You could make it run by furiously pushing on little peddles beneath its hood. They actually let me drive it and I was thrilled. They also had a big TV in their front room. There was some kid's show that came on Saturday mornings where they had ordered something through the mail to go with it. It involved a big piece of transparency you would put over the screen and draw on. In this way you could participate in the show. (Other people my age, who watched TV in 1955, always think I dreamed this up, but I actually do vaguely remember it.)

    Thus, Stanley & Joel, the amazing downstairs twins, seemed magical to me. They had everything... AND, they were nice to me. Didn't seem to care I was a girl. (That's one of them standing beside me at my birthday party.)

    But I guess, even at age six, we were highly influenced by the grown-ups world. We knew that when we grew up we were supposed to get married. (In first grade, the institution didn't signal the same negativity in my psyche that it still does today.) So, eventually one of them and I (can't remember if it was Stanley or if it was Joel) discussed how we were going to get married to each other when we grew up. I remember making this announcement to my mother one night at dinner. She responded with such mock surprise and delight that even I knew she was making fun of me. I remember putting my napkin down beside my plate and saying, "Okay, I'll just go downstairs and call the whole thing off."

    My mom loved to tell that story about me as a kid. Sometimes it's hard to discern if the storytelling creates the memory or the memory creates the story.
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