I was thinking back to the post ‘The curse of technology’ where I recollected shooting the kid across the street with an arrow at the age of five and it got me thinking for the first time in years about my earliest crimes.

This photo is personally important for two reasons. First, viewed retrospectively it was highly prescient and second, it is the earliest known record of me getting punished for something. Judging by the pudginess, I must have been somewhere around two years old. Looking back I suppose that the entirety of my childhood and adolescence  could be viewed as one long chain of events comprised of playful experimentation, willful disobedience, and punishment.

Image

So, anyway here is a partial list of my earliest crimes:

  • Oh yeah, a note on the arrow. It actually stuck for a brief moment and drew blood.
  • I was five or six when a little buddy and I trashed the inside of Becky Swinky’s house (and I have no remembrance of why).
  • I smoked my first cigarette at five.
  • I participated in numerous fistfights between the ages of six and fourteen.
  • When I was eight or nine I hit a kid with a rock square between the eyes. The fact that he started the rock throwing didn’t abate the punishment. I was pleased that the rock knocked him to his knees but immensely relieved that I didn’t put out one of his eyes.
  • At the age of ten I began to plot out a long and successful career of talking girls out of their clothes.
  • Started smoking pot at eleven or twelve.
  • In the spring of ’69 I dropped acid at the age of thirteen.

And that’s just the stuff I remember. The list of crimes is long. I was still adding to it in my twenties, thirties, and (heaven forbid) forties.

But I never looked at myself as bad. Even as a kid there were just things that I needed to try. The problem to me was one of authority inasmuch as I never accepted anyone’s right to rule over me (and still don’t).

But I understood consequences – as in the consequences of one’s own actions. And it was this understanding that kept me from spending too much time on the wrong side of the yellow line; but not enough to keep me from habitually straying.

For example in ’93, long after I should have known better, I was sleeping in my usual unprotected way with the company’s twenty-eight year old receptionist in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

I penned this prose poem ‘Is She Pregnant?’ as a way of trying to wrap my head around my feelings and my knowledge of the situation. The last line presents the conclusion: I might find a way to extricate myself from this particular situation but there was no fooling myself; future crimes would follow.

 

I cannot look beyond Brazil.

Beyond this time and place

there is a foreignness where

I might not recognize myself.

I should isolate myself to this

island in time, for today at

this table I can see myself

as I truly am.

Perhaps nothing but the folly of

my earlier choices have led me

here, to her, now.

Still, there is a magic here

if I could only find it.

At this table still cluttered with breakfast

dishes I sit with my hands

folded and head bowed –

not knowing whether to weep for my loss

or for the frightening thought of

crimes yet to be committed.

                                              5-16-93 pnc

                                              Valinhos, Brazil

Advertisements