The Visit

“I think it all began when my parents wouldn’t let me wear blue jeans…”

“Wouldn’t let you?” The doctor is in.

“Well… that’s not entirely right.  I didn’t know that blue jeans existed until I went to college!  Well look… sure the other kids were wearing blue jeans when I was a kid… it wasn’t something that I really thought about ‘til I went to college.  I spent my entire youth in grey flannels… grey flannel pants, grey flannel shorts.  I went to school in grey flannels, I played in grey flannels.  I even had grey flannel Bermudas… the kind with cuffs. My Dad had them made special for me because we went to Hamilton every June.”

“You say you really didn’t think about blue jeans until college.  Still you were feeling different from your peers?”

“Different?  Back then? Who knows?  But Sydney Kaufman gave me some trouble.”

“Oh? And how old would you be at this time?”

“Maybe seven or eight?  Her Father owned Kaufman’s Variety.  It was a small store on the corner of Edgewood and West Rocks Ave.  It had candy and comic books… maybe other things; but that’s all I can remember.  Mr. Kaufman terrorized us kids.  He had this big fat unshaven face.  He couldn’t keep his shirt tucked in, and there was always a button undone by his fat belly.  He sweated a lot, and didn’t smell good.  And he wouldn’t let us read the comic books in the store.  He would scream at us, ‘get outta’ here you kids! You wanta’ read the comic books? Pay a dime and read the comic books! Read outside! Don’t be bothering my real customers!’ He wore grey flannels, too.  There are ten reasons for Anti-Semitism to exist, and he was two of them!”


“Anyway… this Sydney Kaufman lived in our neighborhood, had curly red hair and freckles and she was in my Sunday School class.  She sat in the desk next to mine.  We were the shortest kids in the class, so we had to sit in the front row… right in front of Mrs. Goldberg’s desk.  I felt like we were being punished. I don’t know which was worse… sitting next to Sydney Kaufman or in front of Mrs. Goldberg.  It was three hours of agony every Sunday.  And then for reasons I can’t guess, one day my Mother gets a call from Sydney’s Mother asking if Sydney can come over our house to play!  And before I can say anything, my Mother agrees!  I immediately got nauseous!  I couldn’t believe it!  Why did my Mother agree to this?  Was this Mrs. Kaufman’s idea?  Or Sydney’s idea?  And if it was Sydney’s idea… what did she think we were going to do?  Skip rope?  We probably didn’t like the same things… and hey!  Didn’t she have any girl friends?”

“You found a girl having interest in you upsetting?”

“Hey!  I was seven or eight!  What boy at seven or eight likes girls?  Maybe Joel Schwartz, OK.  But he was a weirdo.  Actually, I heard that Joel runs a successful hedge fund today and is a scratch golfer. But for all I know, he still is a weirdo.  Sydney should have gone over to his house… they had the first color TV set in the neighborhood; but all he wanted to watch were old black & white movies. Joel had this irritating laugh.  One time we took our bikes over to Edgewood Park, armed with pea shooters and we set up our ambush positions near the entrance over by Chapel & the Boulevard.  And who comes by but Sydney Kaufman!  She was wearing a light blue plaid dress and riding a Schwinn.  Joel hit the spokes of her front wheel and I got her on the calf.  It must have stung like hell! She fell off her bike and scraped her knee.  Then Joel and his goofy laugh gave away our positions!  And Sydney shot back… ‘I see who you boys are! And you’re in trouble now!’  She took off on her Schwinn crying and ratted out Joel to Mrs. Kaufman!”

“But not you?”

“No I dodged the bullit that time.  But I got nailed later.  Sydney and I got married just after college. We were married for just three years.  It was a train wreck.  We never should have gotten married in the first place. Luckily, no kids.  Honestly, I was a miserable husband.”

“I think it goes back to you not being able to wear blue jeans.”

“Thanks Doctor… I will see you next week.”

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