01 July 2009

A True Story That Will Never Become a Picture Book

In the comments to yesterday's posting, one Oz and Ends reader asked, "So inquiring minds want to know: what was your favorite phallosymbolic school-age anecdote of the last five years?"

This story starts two summers ago when I was visiting a friend's house in the country. Between that house and others nearby, there were a great many children underfoot, all related by blood, marriage, adoption, or simple proximity.

One little boy (who, I should note for the record, was neither Godson nor Godson's Brother) was about to go into kindergarten. As a consequence, his parents were working hard to discourage his habit of absently clutching his genitals through his shorts.

This little boy, whom I'll call L, held himself tight only when he was anxious or upset. However, since he was four or five, those occasions were not infrequent. L had learned not to clutch himself in public, but soon I and other guests had become familiar enough that we didn't count as the public. He was more successful at remembering not to hold himself when he was outside.

But one afternoon L's father set up some simple model rockets in the big back yard. We all gathered to watch. After the first couple of launches, the dad started inviting different children to come and help him press the launch button. "This is E's rocket. . . . Now we'll try K's rocket. . . . And now it's L's turn."

L's rocket failed to launch. His father worked furiously to fix the problem. The other children ran around offering advice. But L's only consolation was clutching his genitals more firmly then we'd ever seen. L didn't let go until, as Freud would have told us, his rocket successfully shot into the sky.

But that's only my third-favorite phallosymbolic school-age anecdote of the last five years. I tell it because it's necessary to set up my top choice, which comes from the following summer.

A year in school matured L tremendously. There were fewer anxious moments, and he handled them better. His speech now differentiated the sounds of R and W. He no longer clutched his private parts, even in the privacy of the home.

Except once. When I had to break the news that there were no hot dogs left for lunch.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I generally find it alarming when life starts imitating Freud, but this is hilarious.