Based on a review of my elementary school report cards and personal interviews with family members and lifelong friends, a uniformly accepted message becomes painfully clear. I could use some guidance.
From the age of nine until we moved to the sticks a few years later, I frequently rode the city bus. My usual trek took me from the suburbs on the East side of the Connecticut River into the not quite bustling capital city. Hartford is not famed for its excitement or rapid pace, but it was the home of a classic old-style YMCA where I was an enthusiastic member of the swimming and diving teams.
Returning home from a day out was always a terror. Not for me. For my mother. You see, when the bus door opened at my stop, I had the unfortunate habit of rushing down the steps, out the door, and doing a quick U-turn to run across the street. The same street that was filled with cars moving at normal speed. Nobody stops for a city bus and I was all go in those days. No waiting for me.
Amazingly enough, this almost always worked out. There was no tragedy. Sure, there were a few close calls, but somehow I always made it across the street unharmed.
This held true until that time when a gang of neighborhood kids were riding our bikes. And by “gang” I mean more than three but less than five kids. Some of the specifics escape me, because while my fellow riders stopped at the intersection across the street from my house, I continued on as usual. I have a vivid memory of rolling merrily across the pavement on my Schwinn, only a few dozen feet from my own driveway on a beautiful summer day.
My next memory involves waking up in the hospital as a doctor was sewing closed a large gash above my eye. He appeared to be miles away, while his hand zoomed in to fill my entire field of vision with each new stitch. It was like viewing the world in a huge convex mirror.
A concussion and a plethora of stitches was my reward for going it alone.
My downfall came at the bumper of a car. The driver apparently stopped, walked up to my front door, knocked, and addressed my mother when she answered.
“Do you have a little boy?” he
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