Tag Archives: my memoir

Back to School Special

Today is the second day of the teacher’s strike. To try to appease the back to school gods, I have posted another excerpt from my coming-of-age memoir. Everyone has a story about facing the generation gap with their parents: this one is mine. I hope you like it.

Slacks

Coming down the third floor stairs, I hear Mom call to me from inside her bedroom. I have been looking for ways to make up with her, so I quickly poke my head into the room and find her sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Listen,” she says to me with no preamble. “I got no money for your school clothes this year.”

I look at her confused. Lack of money is always a complaint, but this comment seems uncomfortably targeted towards me.

“I’m buying for all the others,” Mom says. “You get your dad to take care of you.”

“Dad?” I ask, panic in my voice. I have been avoiding Dad since my failed attempt to steal the car radio from his van, but that’s not what alarms me.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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A Mother’s Day Story

I wanted to post another excerpt from the work I’ve been doing in my memoir.

I show my wife all the stories I come up with and rely on her sage comments and suggestions. After reading this one, she said, “You were such an pain in the ass.”

But she said it with love.

I call this one, “I Am Not Your Broom” (with apologies to They Might Be Giants).

I Am Not Your Broom

“I’m sick of this,” Mom says. “Sick of it.”

I am lying on the love seat and hear Mom come grousing into the living room. Cocking my head, I see she is upset but have no idea why. I ignore her and continue to watch TV, a dull sitcom from the 60s.

My little brothers retreat from the living room to the front porch. Still complaining, Mom continues into the kitchen. I can hear the kettle being filled with water for coffee as Terri heads up the stairs toward her room, calling for Tina to follow.

When Mom’s mood plummets, everyone knows to leave her alone. She makes coffee, calls one of her sisters, or just sits at the kitchen table, staring across the room. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. When I was little, Mom would regularly throw everyone out of the house. I remember staggering into the afternoon sunlight, after being in the cool of the living room, curled up with a book. Mom would say, “Run around, play! Have fun like a normal kid, for Christ’s sake.”

Although I can go hang out with my new friends at their apartment on Front Street, I decide to hold my ground here in the living room instead. I haven’t had an opportunity to swipe any cigarettes, and I hate to arrive at the girls’ apartment empty handed. I focus on the TV, even though I’m not that interested in the program.

Mom stands in the entrance to the living room.

“Out,” she commands.

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My Favorite Father Story

For Father’s Day, here is an exerpt from the memoir I am working on. This is from a chapter called Save the Children.

The Gremlin

A FEW DAYS GO BY AND I have almost forgotten about the day Mom threatened to leave. Dad comes home unexpectedly one afternoon and asks me if I want to go for a ride.

“Where?” I ask.

“What do you care,” he says. “Come on. Go for a ride with your dad.”

I feel a little anxious about committing to something as visible as a trip with Dad, but I decide I don’t have much to lose. This summer I am spending most of my time at an apartment down on Front Street, smoking cigarettes and attempting to impress two young ladies who are somewhat older than me. My sister Terri, my primary ally in the house, is only now just beginning to shun my company for the company of our next door neighbor. Although Terri and I are not disdainful of one another yet, our relationship has devolved into constant pestering: I bum cigarettes from her while she chides me to help her clean. I hold a vague hope that I can hide my travel with Dad from the rest of the family, but especially from Terri.

Jumping into his Gremlin, I slink down into the passenger seat, furtively looking out the windows. How will Dad feel if I ask him to drop me off up the block when we get home?

As it turns out, none of that matters. This is the first of many car trips for me and Dad that summer. At the start of each trip, I am always a little hesitant to get in the car, but once we pull away from the curb, everything changes: I am on the road with Dad.

I get to operate the radio and the 8-track tape player. He teaches me how to read a road map. If we stop for gas, I watch as he jots down mileage and time in a little spiral notebook he keeps in the glove box. We always go to his brother or one of his sister’s houses, just like the whole family did when we were kids; only now, it’s just me and Dad.

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