Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mo (Hugs, Kisses, and Playground Games)

I can’t believe how much Mo has changed within a few short months. He’s become so comfortable opening up to us. In the beginning, it wasn’t that he was reserved, he was just guarded. He told me he had never tried to write, let alone write about his feelings.

But if you’ve been reading along, you can see how much he’s willing to tell us. He’s practically working on a tell-all of his life, starting from his childhood, and now moving on to his adolescence. He’s been waiting to show this blog to his kids, he tells me, but now he’s about ready. He wants to have written enough for them to read so that they would be adequately surprised. He’s never been able to tell these stories to them. (In fact, lately, I notice that he’s been calling his writing “chapters” not “stories” – that’s how I know he’s really on a mission.) His kids are the reason he’s doing any of this. He’s so proud of himself, I can tell, because he knows all this – the fact that he is opening up, the fact that he has a mission – will make his kids proud of him.

Now, Mo comes to class early and stays late. After class, when I step out to xerox what everyone had written for the day, he would remain in the room, writing more. And when I return to the room to organize my papers, he would stay to chat with me about how much he’s enjoyed the other seniors’ stories that day.

The nuns seemed to mention “The Occasions of Sin” more often than in 5th grade but I was a sheltered only child who just realized that more than hugs and kisses were in my daydreams but nothing that seemed sinful.

A girl named Gail was very attractive but when we were close at recess she smiled and her teeth were covered in a film and something between her teeth and gums that actually repelled me. I thought about asking one of my girl cousins to suggest she brush her teeth but I never did. Gail left the school later that year. The teacher wrote letters to my parents about my attempts to read library books during class by hiding them inside my text books. When caught I would have to stand out in the corridors until the next subject came up. As my grades were very good nothing else was done. It was so boring.

At the town playground we sometimes formed teams to play against the Cub Scouts and teams from other playgrounds. No adults were involved in these games.

Louie Spinelli, Snuffy Flynn and John Brennan made varsity football, basketball, and baseball teams but I was neither big enough or good enough to compete with the 8th and even 7th graders. There were no junior varsity teams but we became pretty good competing on the playgrounds and sneaking into the public school and various Protestant church basketball courts.

By this time we had moved out of the Little Italy neighborhood and in to an apartment on top of Dan’s Barber Shop on the hill leading to the bridge for automobiles and people which connected the North and South sides of the town divided by the railroad tracks.