, Gloucester, MA


May 17, 2013

Naps, lies, and the bobby pin incident

I remember an occasion when, at the age of 5, I lay alone in my parents’ double bed resisting the suggestion of a nap. Perhaps they chose their bed rather than mine because there were fewer distractions in their room.

Too old for naps, I thought, and was perplexed by the prospect of daytime sleep. It must have been in preparation for some evening event later on — an unusual thing in our family’s quiet life — that I was put to bed in the afternoon.

Finding myself in this seemingly impossible situation, my eyes scanned the room, seeking points of interest.

On the bedside table I spied several bobby pins, the hair curlers of post-war America. Endlessly fascinating to me was watching my mother arrange circles of hair on her head after shampooing, securing each with an “X”of bobby pins, the end product being curls.

I recall clearly still, 60 years later, reaching for one and tugging on the rubber tip with my front teeth until it surrendered, sliding off into my mouth. I flicked it onto the floor, and embarked upon a secret venture born of boredom coupled with a slight resentment.

The smooth, polished maple headboard above me beckoned. Mine had not been a pre-meditated deed; it simply, seductively, presented itself.

I remember rolling over onto my belly, bobby pin in hand, as my imagination peaked. Before me lay a tabula rasa, first beckoning, then challenging. Hesitating for hardly a moment, I was emboldened by some measure of entitlement, having been banished into the dimmed room while the sunshine surely danced gaily beyond the drawn shades.

I scratched a small square on the very lower left corner of the pristine surface, filling it in with a window and a door. It looked fine. Now it was a house. I added a chimney, and on the ground, some stick figures of reindeer and a rabbit with extremely large ears.

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