Other summers

Don’t you ever look at pictures of yourself and think, really? I was that small? Already so deeply committed to navy blue? Standing way out there on that age-inappropriate play system ledge? In the overly watchful world of today this picture would result in an immediate call to the cops by a nosy stranger and land somebody in the cooler for sure.

My friend Meredith sent me a postcard one summer, when we were in our early tweens, I suppose, from someplace fabulous like Scotland or Alaska, and all it said was BEWARE OF THE MAN IN THE PLAID PANTS. We used to publish an alt-weekly newspaper out of my parents’ garage, printed in exotic hand-lettered type and featuring gritty neighborhood exposés such as “Tuesday Morning Mrs. Raimer Blocked the Sidewalk with Her Car.” Once I threw editorial oversight and common sense straight out the window and inserted a coded message to my mother that read, in its entirety, “I DEMAND THAT YOU PUT ME IN PIGTAILS TOMORROW.” I suspect that may have resulted in one cancellation amongst our subscription base of three. Whatever! Pandering to your audience is for the birds.

The kid in the limoncello shirt in this photo is Brett, who lived in Boston but used to visit his grandparents in Wisconsin for a couple of weeks every summer. My brothers called him “Spartacus” for reasons I can’t remember. He was super smart and had this loud wild cackle when he laughed but his face would turn bright red when he was mad, so maybe that was why. My dog bit him once, right on the earlobe, which he was none too happy about either. Dogs and kids from Boston don’t mix, that’s the moral of this important story.