(Right now, I’m focusing on my memoirist work that I’ll call, simply, “Pictures of Tommy” -- mostly about my psychotic brother and his legacy. It touches on my fears, too. Here’s the part that I talk about my experience growing up, and some of the factors contributing to my early teen breakdown. . . This is the painful stuff for me, bad choices, stupid moves. . .)
At any rate, once Jonathan and I met and became friends, he’d call me on the phone and we’d have these marathon talks, really silly ones, but great: he had a way with words and joked around, and a deep, sexy voice. But at the same time, he had a silly giggle, and that was endearing, too. I definitely fell for him, hard. And, for a while, he was in to me, too.
We couldn’t see each other in person till I got over mono and school was out for the summer. But once late June rolled around, he’d take the bus down from Bayside, walk a half mile down Douglaston Parkway, and visit me a few times.
Eventually, I would go and visit him. His parents divorced, his mom worked during the day and was away from the apartment (I think she was a social worker or therapist), so we could go there and fool around. We’d play Beatles records (The White Album, Sergeant Pepper’s, Abbey Road) and, well, fool around. Jon’s mom had muesli cereal in the kitchen cupboard, and once I tried that (stirred in a bowl with a little milk) there was no going back. I loved it!
We became young lovers, an inseperable twosome. Jon introduced me to some older friends of his -- like me, he was precocious in body and mind -- who also lived in Bayside. One of them had a garden apartment and was a rabbinical student. At any rate, we spent more and more time there, listening to the Beatles, Firesign Theater, and the Mothers of Invention, having bizarre discussions about anything and everything, eating delicious junk food. . .
We also went to the beach one time with one of Jon’s older friends, driving in his car. We sat out on a beach blanket in the sand, from morning till late afternoon, in the bright early July sun -- no beach umbrella.
My skin sunburned so lobster-red it blistered and peeled on my back. When I got home, I cried and cried, in pain. My grandma was there, and she put a poultice on it, tsk-tsking about kids these days. For days, I couldn’t move without almost screaming. Bad, bad sunburn.
THAT is why I shun the sun with a righteous fear. My whole life, I’ve never sunbathed, and I seek the shade at all times. You may smile and say, “Oh, how nice, the sun is out!” and I’ll just keep my words to myself with an inner smirk, “Yeah, nice, hot, hurtful, damaging sun. Stay away from me!”
. . . Turns out a lifetime of sun-shunning was a really good move: I have few complaints about sun-damaged skin now, in my later years. Very few wrinkles, too. . . .