(Right now, I’m focusing on my memoirist work that I’ll call, simply, “Pictures of Tommy” -- all about my psychotic brother and his legacy. If so inclined, please share, and tell me what you think. . . )
Leave it up to kids to know how to twist a name like “Agnelli” into “Egghead.”
I’d ask my father why were kids so cruel? This was invariably when I was in the car with him, alone, driving home from dropping grandma off every week (she was a regular visitor to our house, assisting with housecleaning, cooking, and child care for our “poor mother,” as grandma’d affectionately call her).
Wisely, dad didn’t know how to respond, just listened to me as I poured my sad heart out. When we were growing up in Douglaston, Queens, my brother, sister and I attended the local parochial school, Saint Anastasia’s, grades Kindergarten through 8th. It was called a “Grammar School,” I guess because the nuns especially were good at drilling in the rules of grammar and the ol’ 3 R’s: Readin’, ‘Ritin’, ‘Rithmatic.”
At “St. A’s,” the bully contingents were out in force, and nobody did a blessed thing about it. The nuns themselves were often bullies. . .
At any rate, the kids called my brother -- then me -- “egghead.” It was a big put down. It meant you were smart, strange, a studious kid, a real “grind.” I guess nowadays we’d be called Geeks, or Nerds. Since we had little social grace, neither Tommy nor I knew how to handle being put down and called “Egghead Agnelli” every day.
Anyway. I hated being a kid and couldn’t wait to grow up. I wonder if Tommy felt the same? Then, to add insult to injury, because he was so bright, they skipped him a grade. That meant that Tommy was even more of an outcast, being way younger than everybody else. He only had that one friend -- Doug Schneyman -- and so life for Tom was a pretty lonely thing even in childhood. . .