“There will be a quiz on Chapters 11, 12 and 14 on Friday.”

Remember those hated words? And do you remember how much shorter you were when you were a child?

I have some vague recollections of having been a child once, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, and since there’s photographic evidence to support such a claim, I have to acknowledge the fact. 

I was, or so I am told, a precocious child. Well-dressed too. (Re the word “precocious”, “pre” from the Attic Greek “premature”, as in “WAY too soon, Sparky”, and “cocious”, which, as we all know, is a “Maghrebi dish of small steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina”, which when read aloud sounds suspiciously like the instructions for applying roofing tar…”apply the roofing tar with your roller in short, smooth strokes.” Okay.)

Like most people, I suspect, my memories from my childhood range from joyous (vacations at Grandma and Grandpa’s place down in Southern Indiana) to sublime (the first time I heard “California Girls” by the Beach Boys…I was 14, and life was like a wide, wide highway open far ahead of me) to agonizing (my first kiss, and the immediate aftermath, which I will not discuss here, other than to say that it involved a calliope, a chain-saw, two Hostess SnoBalls and a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee) back to joyous (day-long baseball games) to painful (never mind) to REALLY painful (I’m thinking of writing a book on my summer camp experiences…”Summer In The Gulag: Wait, There Is No Summer In The Gulag”) and back again, all across the gamut of emotions that we, everyone, experience as kids.

I overheard my mother once remark to a neighbor, when I was six or so, discussing her youngest and brightest star (that’s me, on the left, with my cousin, Martha, my occasional accomplice)…”He’s adorable in a ‘you want to smack him on the side of the head’ kind of way.” Mom and I had many issues, and never really got along, but I give the old girl credit, she was long-suffering with me. My brother and sister (both older and not NEAR as smart or as good-looking as their younger sib) combined didn’t even come close to having as many emergency-room visits as I did; they were dull and respectable (still are); I started playing drums at 13.

We raced our bikes (which meant more than a few falls and at least one trip to St. Joe’s, the local Catholic hospital) and built our forts (ER visit #56…stepped on a nail that went ALL the way up through my right foot, so my Dad had to come and carry me home from the woods…I needed a keeper, for sure), we played Monopoly for endless hours on rainy days, and wiffle ball Home Run Derby in the backyard, and there were Halloween nights that we ravaged the neighborhood and 4th of July fireworks at the Municipal Stadium just down the street from our house, where we sat 50 yards from the pyrotechnic displays, watching the rockets go off, right up over our heads, and then as I got to junior-high age, I walked with Jimmy Roberts down to the Rec Center swimming pool every day during the summer, to check out the, ah, swim meets and Red Cross events.

I had a shitty childhood, in between all the fun I was having.

And then there was this headline on the ‘Net last week…”Congressional candidate says aliens took her on a spaceship”, and oh joy, yes, she is from Florida, running to replace a retiring Congressperson over in the Miami area. I mean, come on guys, isn’t it bad enough that we already have Senator Marco (The Hispanic Donald Trump) Rubio and Rick (Am I Governor, Really?) Scott here in the Sunshine State, do we need this as well?

The candidate in question, Bettina Rodriquez-Aguilera, says that she was taken up when she was seven, and has had telepathic contact with her alien “abductors” several times over the ensuing years. 

She further says that she learned many things from these creatures, such as “the world’s energy center is in Africa” and, even more interesting, that the Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction in the Miami-South Dade area, “is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid”. No mention was made as to how an ancient Egyptian pyramid came to be in the Miami Florida area here in the 21st century, but it would be reasonable to assume a rudimentary United Parcel Service was available back then, to expedite shipping it here. (Who are they united with, do you know?)

Taken up in a spaceship at age seven…boy, the most exciting thing to happen to me when I was seven was getting a new 26” Schwinn bike for Christmas, which was red, of course (see above).

I promptly went out, on the first day that it was warm enough and there was no snow on the streets, jumped on my new bike, which by that time had had the chain tightened and oiled, the tire pressure brought up to optimum, the seat height adjusted to millimeter specs, the handlebars at just the right tilt and the streamers on the ends ready to meet the wind I would create on my new racer…and fell off the damn thing, two blocks from home, when I turned a corner too quick and went down, spang on my butt.

I have no idea if aliens fall off of, or for that matter, even have bikes, but I’m pretty sure they have synthesized, gamma-ray generating, 56mm harmonized laser cannons, so there’s that.

We can ask Bettina…I bet she would know.

Love and fireflies in the summer,

Cap’n John

Post Script…Game One of the 2017 World Series, featuring the Astros from Houston as the American League Representative, and the soon-to-be World Champions, and the best team in MLB, the Los Angeles Dodgers as the National League reps, takes place this evening at the home of the eventual champs, Dodger Stadium.

A small sign has been placed over the doorway to the visitor’s clubhouse…”Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”. 

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