I know I will never be a kid again, I’m no Benjamin Button, but I have discovered a few ways to feel like a kid again.
- See the Wednesday matinée of any Broadway show (excluding Book of Mormon). Sit in the orchestra. Notice that 90% of the audience is well past retirement age. No one can feel old in this audience. If you are 20-something, you feel like a child.
- Order something from an ice cream truck. Something with rainbow sprinkles, strawberry flavored, in a novelty shape, or all of the above. Walk down the street eating it. Focus on how good it tastes, not the looks strangers are giving you or the fact you will probably get some on your shirt.
- Go on a date with your Elementary School Nemesis.
We had a lot of ground to cover, both literally and metaphorically. It was the first day of my visit to San Francisco, his last. Both of us hungry to take in our home town, the city where we had both been born and raised. But first we were just hungry. So we headed down the hill to North Beach, San Francisco’s “Little Italy”.
As with any trip in a city of your past, our walk was full of reminiscences and memories. “Hey, that’s the tree where I saw my beloved pet parakeet for the last time”, and “See? That park is where I broke my arm 3 times” (he spent most of third grade with his arm in a cast. I never signed it.) More fun however, were the things we remembered from our mutual past in elementary school.
“I remember a poem you wrote about bees.” I said.
He laughed, “How the hell do you remember that? I don’t remember that at all.”
“I remember because the teacher read it out loud to the class instead of my poem. I was way jealous.”
He laughed again, even harder, “Of course you remember that.” He grinned and took my hand.
I smiled, “I never expected that story would make you want hold my hand.”
“Do you remember that Russian kid, Victor? In second grade?”
“Yeah, I think so, why?” I replied.
“That kid could barely speak any English but man, he was good at math.”
“That’s a random thing to remember.”
“Well, I copied off all his tests.”
“Yeah I did!”
“Aw man, I wish I’d known that.”
“Because I so would have told on you.” I said and we both burst out laughing. It was too true. He squeezed my hand. There we were, holding hands: the little poet who cheated on tests and the little tattle-tale who wanted everything she did to be the best in the class.
“When I mentioned to my mother I was seeing you, she said, ‘Why? So you can push her in a mud puddle?'”
“You better not!” I cried, surveying the bone-dry ground for possible traps.
“I think you’re safe…for now,” he said. It was funny, we still pushed each other’s buttons (to use the cliché) like we had all through elementary school. The big difference was now there was chemistry, the pushing was blatantly flirtatious.
We ate lunch at a little café with drawings all over the walls. After a thoroughly satisfying pasta, we wandered around North Beach. Passing Washington Square Park (yes, there are parks with this name in both San Francisco and New York), Nemesis sighed, “Man, I wish I had my frisbee!”
“How SoCal of you,” I teased, “You wanna kick off your shoes? Toss a frisbee around the grass? Smoke some grass?” I’ve lived in NYC long enough to make fun of Californians, even though I’ll always be a proud native of the Golden State. “I’m so glad you don’t have your frisbee. I beyond suck at frisbee.” See? I still talk like a Californian. But I play frisbee like a New Yorker.
The way back to his car was, of course, several blocks up hill. We were tired by the last block, the steepest so far. “Oh these hills!” I said, “Gotta love them.”
“I’m going to kick this hill ass,” Nemesis announced and then began running up the incline. I giggled like a kid and chased after him.
I didn’t have a hope of catching him, “This isn’t fair! You had a head start! I haven’t been through basic training! Your legs are half a foot longer than mine!” I wheezed. He stopped and waited for me, grinning. No sooner did I reach him then I saw something, and started running again.
Near the top of the hill there was a Christmas tree placed by the curb, waiting for trash collection (this dates my story and forces me to reveal this all happened months ago, in January.) On top of the tree was a Christmas wreath. When I saw that wreath I couldn’t resist. It was the perfect shape. I ran to grab it. Holding it triumphantly in my hands I yelled to Nemesis, “Look, it’s your frisbee! Here, catch!” I said, and chucked it towards the ground by his feet. He covered his face, afraid I would hit him. “What! You think I would throw it at your head? Who do you think I am?!”
“I don’t know! You said you were bad at frisbee!”
Then we were both laughing and a moment later we were kissing. Nemesis and Cliché standing by a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
[Want more on Nemesis? See my previous posts: A Date with My Elementary School Nemesis: “Background” and “He’s in the Navy“]