(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. . .)
For the entire summer I was 15, Jon and I spent every day together. We never spent a day in our house, in Douglaston. Mom wasn’t too happy about me going to Bayside every day, but she usually drove me there or picked me up. Eventually, she and dad decided that Jon was a bad influence.
Good call! Too bad they didn’t figure that one out sooner. And once Jon tried to visit me at night and climb up the side of the house to the upstairs bathroom window (probably because of that Beatles song, “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window.” We might have made a dare, something silly). My parents found out and then called his mom and it was a mess.
Things were getting bad between Jon and me, anyway. He broke up with me unceremoniously one day -- the darkest day in my young life. I couldn’t stop crying; so attached to him, the separation was painful. That kind of hurt is so terrible. . . which is why I am glad that the kids in my family aren’t getting too serious about anybody romantically, yet.
(Family portrait around when I was ten or twelve. Dad is, of course, behind the camera. There I am, little pudgy kid on the left, buck teeth, diastoma, and all. Tommy looks demented -- shape of things to come. Mom looked thin -- she'd been on a yo-yo diet again and this was in one of her "skinny" years, and Carrie, far right, is just the happiest, lovingest little girl -- she's still remarkably content in life. . .)
Why didn’t he love me any more? He couldn’t say. But I thought it was because I was too fat. All right, I could do something about that. I could go on a diet. I’d already shed about 20 pounds before meeting him; couldn’t I do that again, and better?
If I looked like a beautiful, svelte model -- a lovely waif like our friend Kenny Cohen’s sometime girlfriend, Carol, whose Mona Lisa smile and ballerina-thin figure made me cringe with envy -- maybe I could win Jon’s love back.
So that’s when I decided that strict dieting -- and extra exercise -- was what I needed.