Beating children.

11 Mar

I brought my group to the water’s edge of the western shore of The Lake, beside a huge hunk of Manhattan schist just past the Ladies’ Pavillion on the northern tip of Strawberry Fields under the bright blue noontide canopy draping the loveliness of Central Park. This usually quiet spot was presently peopled with very young youngsters wearing large name tags in huge block letters dangling from their pencil necks on bright orange lanyards. Way off to my right, barely in my periphery, stood Derrick and his miserable three feet of height.

I began my lecture.

It was a surprise to me to learn that I cannot seem to talk without the accompanying gesticulations of an impassioned Italian. My hands take flight with my mouth, married like the brakes and the car horn of a NYC taxi cab. This fact was made known to me by the chimp in the distance, Derrick, who slowly, but methodically, began to accurately ape my every movement, much to the delight of my tourists who, like most of the tourists from across America, would be distracted from my compelling tales by a butterfly. I believe I heard a few muffled laughs.

I was not happy.

The last time I worked with a child was in a play directed by the child’s father. As such, I was often blocked to stand with my back to the audience and face her so that everyone had a perfect view of this star-in-the-making and my ass. Backstage one night, and oddly fond of me, she positively beamed as she told me she had just been cast in another play. “My,” I lavished, “is your daddy directing that show as well?” She laughed, not noticing the acid off my tongue had burned a hole through her costume.

I work best alone.

Derrick did not seem to understand the daggers I was shooting him in my mind and mistook them for an invitation to stand next to me and continue his act. The more I tried to quiet my arms, the more they flew, fodder for Derrick who has a talent, bless him, the little fuck. I was openly being laughed at by forty people who had worshipped me not seven minutes earlier.

My mind flew to the playgrounds of my youth: The endless parade of bullies who threatened me and mocked me and occasionally landed a punch, and their flunkies who laughed along for the fun of it all. Either I had shrunk or Derrick had grown a full three feet as we stood side by side in this park turned boxing ring, its loveliness lost under a burning sun, as sweat flopped off my brow and back. “Please stop!” I heard my mind plea to Derrick:

“What did I ever do to you?”

So strange that we can be transported to our own childhood in mere moments. Or maybe it is just me. Maybe I should strike that sentence as a window into my own peculiar neuroses. But there I was again, five years old and terrified. Fortunately, the forty years since finally clicked in and I took charge.

I realized that Derrick must be a part of some Day Camp as the place was crawling with urchins, and that for heaven’s sake some adult must be nearby and watching–and most likely laughing. I would turn Derrick against Derrick. So, while I talked about Bow Bridge, I shoved my index finger as far up my nose as possible, forcing Derrick to do the same. The I removed my finger and put it directly in my mouth savoring the meal. As Derrick was in this thing deep, he had to do the same. I pointed off to the Dakota Apartments to speak of Yoko Ono, then continued my finger’s path to my bottom where I shoved it in the ass crack of my pants. Derrick complied. The coup-de-grace, I pointed my two ring fingers (not my middle fingers to avoid any prosecution) and pumped them up and down as though I was in the barroom brawl that I was. Derrick mistook the gesture and pumped his middle fingers back at me, the fool, the dolt, the child.

“Derrick, you stop that right now and get over here,” some tardy supervisor finally screamed at the top of her lungs from atop the schist.

Derrick plodded away, a petulant poor loser in my opinion. The last sound he heard was the applause aimed at me from the fickle tourists who to their credit recognized a victory when they saw one. In my mind, they all picked me up and carried me off the field while Derrick spent the remainder of the day with his offensive arms chained to the schist while vultures ate his liver and Pale Male plucked out his eye balls.

Maybe I haven’t grown up all that much. But I’m faring better on playgrounds these days.

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5 Responses to “Beating children.”

  1. Joe Pineda March 11, 2012 at 4:10 am #

    I loved everything about the post, particularly the word play (intentional or not) in the title. I also really liked how the language definitely expressed frustration and stress without losing touch with reality and a sense of humor. Sure, at times it got a bit intense, but then as I continued I realized it was only for dramatic effect.

    As someone who’s also rich in non-verbal communication (I’m hyperactive) PLUS a teacher, I know how tough it can be to speak in front of a crowd while being taken seriously at the same time.

    Thanks for the enjoyable read.

    • Necessarily Cruel Coot March 11, 2012 at 4:21 am #

      Thanks, Joe, and thanks for being a teacher. If there’s anything we need, it’s good teachers. Best!

      • Joe Pineda March 11, 2012 at 4:45 am #

        I wouldn’t know about the good part, but I’m working on it.

  2. Ron Siebert March 11, 2012 at 5:23 am #

    Fuck Derrick and all his ilk in all our lives.

    • Necessarily Cruel Coot March 11, 2012 at 5:44 am #

      Derrick was six years old, but if he’s of the same ilk at eighteen, off with his hands.

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