Friday, June 19, 2009

A Quaint Childhood Remembered

**Please note that I have consumed no alcohol before beginning this particular blog post**

I don't know why it came up, but Mr. CP and I were sitting in the cinema during the dull stuff before the trailers and I recalled the murderer for whom I used to babysit. And about a week ago, my sister reminded me of the pedophile who taught our health classes - including sex ed. I got to thinking that I had a fairly normal childhood, though I don't remember much of it and I sometimes request that my mother tell me if I actually had a horrible and traumatic childhood, cause to repress all those memories, but maybe it wasn't so normal, after all.

Every teenaged girl babysits. It's sort of a rite of passage. You are too young to get a legitimate job, too old to live entirely of your parents, and hiring teenaged girls desperate for even a little pocket money is the only real way for adults to go out and have dates or dinner out or, you know, murder people. When I was in my early high school days I used to babysit this little boy named Connor. He was a cute and energetic young guy who loved playing outside and board games. Once we had a scare when he was trying to catch a chipmunk and the end of its tail popped off in his grubby little kid fingers. We went to boardgames for the rest of the afternoon.

His dad would sometimes come and pick us up, though we couldn't have been more than a half mile away on the same network of dirt and gravel roads. He was a friendly guy. So was his wife. She was a runner and would frequently be seen running up and down the main gravel road. They were super normal, nice people with a cute kid. Then one day my mom called me with some juicy neighborhood gossip: he was arrested for a murder that had occurred shortly after I was born (and I'm going on 24 here). It's hard to believe that it is even possible.

Now, when I was in high school we had to have two health classes during our four years. The first was to occur during the first two years, the second was to occur during the last two years. I remember people used to joke that if you got Mr. Smith he was so shy about talking about sex that he'd turn down the lights during that whole section, presumably so nobody would notice his cheeks reddening or something. For a man with a kid, that seems silly.

My sister was a TA for him one trimester in school. She spent way more time around him than I ever did, since I had ony one class with him ever. She said that saliva used to gather at the corners of his mouth. We used to ride the bus with his son. After he was arrested for trying to cyber-seduce a teenaged girl (who was actually a police officer) on the internet, I teased my sister that he must have been drooling over her. Creepy more than funny. He was another seemingly normal guy. He was a high school teacher who nobody disliked and nobody thought was creepy. Though apparently he really liked teen girls. He also lived in roughly the same neighborhood as we did. Apparently it attracts real weirdos.

Some of the memories I do have from my younger childhood includes having to stay out late because our neighborhood in an East Bay city was the host site for a gang fight. Or then there was the time when the escaped felon was running around in the concrete aqueducts connecting our street to parallel streets. Apparently we lived pretty near this neighborhood where there were lots of gangs and drugs. My mom lied about where we lived so we could go to school in the Hills with the more well off kids. In a city with a pretty ethnically diverse breakdown, we went to the public school that was mostly middle class white kids. I think that, in our neighborhood, we were one of three or four white families, and including the Costillos and the Gutierrezes we were some of the few not sort of sketchy families on the block. I remember living in a neighborhood once in which we were able to ride our bikes and rollerblade on the streets, when we knew all the neighbor kids and one of them convinced me that black ants taste like pepper (they don't). That wasn't this neighborhood - in this neighborhood we would get to play in our backyard, our grandparents backyard, and maybe the Hodges' backyard.

Now I live in a town, in a community, where I know everyone I see and even strangers say hello. I hope to never discover that some acquaintance or neighbor is actually some sort of horrid criminal. Having Governor Palin as a neighbor is as much as I can take.

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