Once when I was Yogi
A 1st grade Halloween memory
This morning, the wide grin of a little boy in a smart batman costume caught my eye. The joy on the child's face is unlike that of any boy photos I have in my collection. Beneath the photo appeared a proud grandpa's FB boast "Have you ever seen a happier Batman?"
The man making the boast, roughly 25 years my senior, is the father of 4 boys and 3 girls, the oldest "boy" a childhood friend. I don't know how many grands, grandpa Joe has. My friend, Joe Jr , has sired a couple on the upper end of the age spectrum, and in the post's comment section, Joe Sr mentions that little Paolo is the second youngest.
I will never walk in the shoes of a family patriarch, but I speculate the good ones exercise care with words. Grandpa Joe, is a retired computer engineer who raised 7 children in an affluent neighborhood. On his way to success, he mastered computer languages and algorithmic logic. Thinking as hard as he did may have served as a natural buffer against speech. What countless worth an extra nanosecond in a household more than twice the size of that to which i had belonged!
I must say that the blond headed boy grandpa Joe was beaming about was quite handsome. Despite being maskless for the photoshoot, there was plenty of costume tinsel to appreciate; the black bat-sleeves with pointed ridges, in particular.
Wisely, though,Grandpa Joe alluded to the boy's joy and not to his looks and kept the message brief. In it, perhaps, there was a coded message to his clan for these troubled times.
"Life is good, and this here is the evidence!"
While lingering on this FB post, the faint outlines of an old memory came back into focus. Once again, I saw the multicolored leaves on the maples and oaks of the neighborhood around the school, and I walking in step with fellow first graders on a leaf strewn sidewalk. Once again I recalled the "butterflies" while shuffling along in formation, incognito, surrounded by an eclectic group of kids whose voices I could not distinguish being that they too had disappeared beneath their cloaks and such. I recalled the dark brown coverall that enveloped me as I kept pace with my classmates, the pressure of the mask against my face, and the chafing of its bands against my scalp.
But as my thoughts turned to the mask's painted outer shell, they turned unexpectedly to a different day; to the dress rehearsal that had taken place when the permission slip had been signed, and an adoring smile flashed my way.
The person who once knew the real me reminded me in my thoughts today, that I was Yogi in that parade.