tells their children that grown tall is not necessarily grown up,
and that adulthood is a lot more than cleaning your room and no
texting at the dinner table. I don't want Truth anymore, I'm looking
for something better. So this year, when my kids asked me what I
wanted for Christmas, this is what I meant to say:
I want to again believe there's a man in the moon and think his
cheeks are fat because he blows clouds all around the sky. I want
another chance to wear the pretty dresses my mother made for me,
and not feel embarrassed because other kids had store-bought. I
want to know what I don't know and not care that I don't know it.
I want to play
stickball in the street in front of my house and know that nothing
bad will ever happen to me or anybody I know. We are safe. I want
to sit on my friend's stoop at twilight playing Simon Says, and
telling ghost stories when darkness falls.
I want to listen to the radio again, hear Inner Sanctum's scary
squeaking door, and look forward to the million stories of the Naked
City. I want to think my best friend, Nancy, is smarter than Chopin
because she can play his Minute Waltz in 59 seconds.
I want to ride my bike without a helmet because the wind in my hair
is way, way better than any laws anybody can make about protecting
your head. I want to be able to get a tan without knowing it's bad
for me. I want to go to the beach and taste again my mother's sandwiches
of egg salad on white bread. "Don't complain about sand in the egg
salad," she'd say, "Why do you think they're called sandwiches?"
I want to know that dinner is at 7:00 p.m. sharp when my father
comes home from work. I want to again hear my parents ask what did
I learn at school, and be interested in my answers.
I want to express myself without editing every thought for fear
that someone will criticize me for being politically incorrect.
I want to believe in government again and not know the meaning of
lobbyist. I want to believe cops are there to help us, teachers
do not lie, and your best friend would never betray you. I want
to believe in justice and fair play. I don't want to fear someone
stealing my dog, my car, or my identity.
What do I want for Christmas? I want to tender my resignation as
an adult. I can't recall why I spent so much of my childhood impatient
to be one.
"A Balloon In Cactus"
- December 22, 2017 column