Union, New Jersey… that’s where my earliest recollection of life began… not even of the visual variety, but through my olfactory memory (Yeah, I said it.) comprised of malodorous scents in a house full of pets that at one time or another included dogs, cats, rabbits and a monkey named, “Jerry”… true story. I neither remember seeing nor knowing when he came and went, but was aware that this primate had existed by the smell of his cage… probably, why our exotic boarder might not have been there long.
I began to take note of the world through my eyes when introduced to my siblings’ Spirograph kit. This contraption that housed a slew of many little gadgets mesmerized me with vivid colors of red, black, green and blue, unleashed from pens that would create synchronized, swirling patterns onto paper, imitating residual track marks that might be left behind by figure-skaters in a magical world. I was enchanted by those hypotrochoids, before I knew their proper names or that they were linked to my eternal archenemy… mathematics. If permitted, I would have played, incessantly, with those addictive instruments for hours. Instead, I was steered away to other activities that included my daily dose of television where crime-fighter, “Courageous Cat“, would invite himself into my den to go “head-to-head” with the forever-crooked, Jimmy Cagney-like amphibian, “Chauncey ‘Flat-Face’ Frog”. Naturally, my required regimen of animation was never complete without a visit from “Mighty Mouse” who always showed up to “save the day”.
As the evening approached, so would “The Mike Douglas Show” and “The Streets of San Francisco” featuring Michael Douglas… a fact that freaked me out, knowing, there were two men with virtually the same name within my lineup of programs to watch.
Sometimes, while playing, I’d get a “Charley horse” and needed my brother, nine years my senior, to help straighten out a random leg that was uncomfortably locked with a muscle spasm. He enjoyed Yankees games so, would often tease me, while mending my leg or otherwise, by singing the famed baseball anthem, “Take Me out to the Ball Game“, exclaiming, “…and it’s ONE, TWO, THREE strikes, you’re out, at the ooooold baaaaalllll gaaaaaame!!!!” I would giggle then, become livid because I knew that he was counting out those numbers to imply, I was three-years-old when I was waaaaay more mature than that, as I had already turned four on my previous birthday. (Being from a family of “button pushers” made it easy for my elder to trigger me into yelling out, “Moooommmmyyyyy… Shurland keeps saying that I’m three when I’m not three… I’m FOOOOOUUUUR!!!!” This would be followed by my exasperated mother hollering out in a melodious, Trinidadian cadence, “Oh gawd, ooohhhh… leave da child alone na!“)
I was soon freed from membership of my brother’s captive audience after witnessing More